Brassicas, beans and bashful leeks

 We’ve had rain this week – lots of it. Bad news for all the local outdoor festivities taking place over the holiday weekend but great news for gardens. Our water butts are full to the brim and the ground has had a thorough soaking.

A brimming butt – what a beautiful sight!

When the sun breaks through it’s incredibly hot and the garden steams like a Lord Of The Rings landscape: the plants are loving it. (So are the weeds 😦  – hoe, hoe, hoe!)

I promised Sam and Adrienne a photo of the ‘Charlotte’ potatoes they planted in April. Well done, you two – it looks like all that grubbing about in mud was worth it. Good luck with the exams, we’ll save you some spuds!

The students’ spuds are doing fine.

There have been many times over the last few months when I doubted we would ever be able to say these words, but here they are: we’ve FINISHED DIGGING!

At last, the digging is done…

(Okay, ignore the strip of ground still covered with polythene and lino; that’s next year’s little digfest in waiting.) Neither of us minds digging, it’s good exercise and a satisfying job but it has been a bit demoralising when every forkful looked like this:

…but it hasn’t been easy.

I’d be happy never to see another couch grass root in my life. Dream on…

The good news is that I can see now that there is plenty of room for everything I want to grow this year. In fact, I’ve already planted a small patch as a seed bed for some perennial herbs and flowers and I’m planning to cadge a bit more next month to start some biennials off. The next batch of brassicas – cauliflower ‘All The Year Round’, broccoli ‘Green Winter Calabrese’ and Brussels sprouts ‘Evesham Special’ and ‘Red Bull’ – had outgrown their seed tray so they’ve gone out.

New babies in the brassica bed.

They’re a bit small but perfectly formed and seem happy enough outside; the summer cabbages have outgrown my pigeon net arrangement so it’s on standby in case these babies need it.

Brussels sprout ‘Red Bull’: beaks off, pigeons.

I’ve transplanted a few dill seedlings to make another protective ‘anti-cabbage white butterfly’ fence and I’ve stuffed in lots of French marigolds. There are plenty of brassicas following on to fill the bed: purple sprouting broccoli, romanesco and cabbage ‘Kalibos’ seedlings are doing well in the tunnel and I’ve just started off a tray of winter cabbages ‘Red Drumhead’ and ‘Christmas Drumhead.’ Fingers crossed (birds, beasts and bugs permitting), we should be fine for greens this year.

French marigolds in the brassica bed are close to flowering.

I’ve planted three melon plants in the tunnel and transplanted the overcrowded French beans and ‘Little Gem’ lettuce outside.

Melon ‘Canta Charentais’.

From 2 rows to 4 rows of French bean ‘Canadian Wonder’! Now it’s really starting to feel like a French potager.

It’s been a week of happy finds to make me smile. Asparagus pea seedlings (they’re so pretty),

Asparagus pea seedlings

flowers forming on the broad beans and sweet peas,

Flowers on the broad beans – can’t wait for that sweet scent.

a decent little picking of strawberries coming along by the front door

Here they come, the little beauties.

and fruits setting on our mystery currant.

I think it’s a blackcurrant…

 Not-so-happy finds? Aphids on the tomatoes and basil, something chomping the onions and way too many leather jackets –  nasty little beasties. 😦

The last patch we dug (in front of the spuds) is earmarked for leeks. Mmm, my leeks:  I’m beginning to wonder if there might be a bit of a nationality identity crisis thing going on here? It seems strange that the French beans (I know they’re South American really but please indulge me on this one), French garlic and French potatoes are all kicking away merrily like a troupe of can-can dancers while the leeks – which always grew fantastically well in Wales – appear to be sulking in their seed tray, doing very little.

Oh come on, you lot – you should be twice this size by now.

Are they homesick? Are they shy? I’m giving them a few more days in the tunnel to snap out of it, then they’re going into the ground, small or not. Yes, it’s time for some tough love. They are one of my all-time favourite veg so the thought of a winter without them is just too depressing. I’m hoping that once they hit the ground they’ll perk up; if not, I’ll have to sneak out and give them a couple of verses of ‘Sosban Fach’ when the garlic’s not listening.

Sticking with a Welsh theme, a quick peep at the flower garden to finish. It’s still not as full as I like, but the annuals are slowly filling the gaps and there is plenty of colour from the perennials. I’m already planning to include some colourful veg next year – rainbow chard, climbing borlotti beans, etc – to blur the boundaries a bit. When we dug the pointy rock out from behind the house (we have more rock than Blackpool here) it reminded me of a standing stone so I decided to plant it round with Welsh poppies as a nod to our British roots; unlike the leeks, the poppies seem very happy to be in France! 🙂

Room for some colourful veg next year?

At least the Welsh poppies are happy in their new French home.




4 thoughts on “Brassicas, beans and bashful leeks

  1. Oh, it’s all just so pretty, pretty, pretty!

    Your seedlings ARE perfectly formed (ashamed now of my sad, sorry little weirdos)

    Welsh poppies seem happy anywhere – Mum has some self-set wild dudes growing in her WALL. You’ve spoilt them rotten giving them some actual SOIL and French France sunshine 😉

    Kind regards, Penny


    • Hi Penny,
      Oh, don’t worry about your little weirdos – you should see my geraniums and morning glory, strange little oddballs that they are 😦 With so much stone round here (houses and barns literally held together with a dirt mortar) I’m wondering how long it will be before the Welsh poppies colonise the hamlet, hope the neighbours like them!

      Best wishes,



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