Salad days, slugs and seedlings

We are eating masses of salad as the mixed leaves and herbs in the polytunnel are romping away. I’m pleased with the bunches of ‘French Breakfast’ radish I’m picking; something is nibbling the leaves, but the roots are unblemished, tender and peppery hot. I’m not planning to plant any outside this summer as the slugs are such a pest so we will enjoy them now and sow again in the autumn.

‘French Breakfast’ radish for our salad bowl.

 Talking of slugs, I realised that the combination of a newly planted bed of baby lettuce and the first rain forecast in a fortnight is bound to get the little blighters excited. Time for a pre-emptive strike so I’ve dusted off our very beautiful ‘Mighty Snail’ beer trap ready for action. Unfortunately I can’t persuade Roger to part with any of his smart French ale for the cause (what a ridiculous suggestion!), so I’ve bought a can of the cheapest stuff I could find and hope the slugs aren’t fussy. In fact, I’m hoping they become addicted.

Cheers, slugs! This round’s on me.

The ‘Mighty Snail’ on patrol in the salad bed.

The really, really, really good news this week is that my poor, pathetic little tomatoes have rallied and are looking a hundred times better – that’s to say, they are growing and have several green leaves now. True, they wouldn’t win any prizes but I think they’ll pull through which is all that matters.

A slightly happier little ‘Sungold.’ Maybe we won’t be tomato-less after all?

Our neighbour Rolande tells me that it’s been the same for everyone round here this year and is all down to the terrible weather. The locals are very cheesed off, saying it’s the worst winter and spring they’ve ever had; that does make me feel a bit better, I just hope they don’t think we brought it across the Channel with us! 🙂

I’ve also been told not to think about planting anything tender out until the 15thMay which is the official ‘frost free’ date for this area. I’m trying very hard to resist but it’s not easy; the polytunnel is bursting at the seams and some things are begging to go out. I’m hardening everything off during the day but tucking them all back under cover at night.

The courgettes are ready for the world beyond the polytunnel…

…and so are the climbing borlotti beans.

I will probably chance a few things and cover them with pots or fleece if a cold night is forecast but for the rest it’s going to be a long fortnight. Apart from anything else, I’m fast running out of pots and could do with freeing some up; in the meantime, I’m making my own from the plastic bottles our milk comes in.

Homemade plastic pots – we can’t drink the milk fast enough!

I’ve been busy working down the soil in the second section of the potager and the courgette bed ready for everything to go in. I’ve also planted a few more seeds: ‘Little Gem’ lettuce for braising rather than salad, two rows of green French beans ‘Canadian Wonder’ (with plans for yellow beans to go in later) and a short row of asparagus pea. We’ve grown the latter once before, I can’t say I was over-impressed with the vegetable but the flowers are a stunning colour so they’re welcome in the garden. I’ve been weeding by hand and by hoe to try and keep a step ahead of the annual weeds (fat chance after the rain comes, I should think!), I’m pleased to see plenty of vegetable seedlings germinating despite the dry conditions.

Parsnip seedlings.

Spot the spinach emerging between the broad beans.

Rainbow chard seedlings.

Finally, in the ancient Celtic calendar today is Beltane, festival of fertility and fire. Here in France it’s a public holiday (the first of four this month) and people are exchanging sprigs of lily of the valley as a token of affection and friendship; not quite as exciting as jumping over Beltane bonfires, but a lot safer and sweeter, I suppose! My lily of the valley is still some way off flowering but I’m hoping that courgette, tomato, pepper and herb plants will all be acceptable alternatives when the time comes to share them with our neighbours.

No lily of the valley yet, but we are enjoying plenty of other spring flowers.

 

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2 thoughts on “Salad days, slugs and seedlings

    • Oh yes – we’d have given our eye teeth for the winter we’ve just had here when we were gardening in the Welsh uplands. It’s all relative, I suppose!

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