Gourmet Girl Denise here from the Loire River Valley, France.
Well, it seems we are soon to all be vaccinated from the dreaded Covid-19 virus that has been wreaking havoc upon our mother earth for the past year. Thank goodness! My age group will be eligible for the jab in April and will be administered by my local pharmacy. Pharmacies are quite different here in France than in the U.S. One difference I found quite unusual when I first arrived here four years ago was that you can go mushroom hunting in November and if you can’t identify a certain cepe, you can take it to your pharmacy and they will identify it for you. This is an important skill as one poisonous mushroom can kill you.
Oh, and they also fill your prescriptions.
The weather here has been chilly in the evenings with intermittent rain all week long, but that has not deterred the French from starting their veggie growing. Everyone has a potager (French for a veggie plot) and neighbors will actually judge you based on how big or small your plot is and what you are growing. It’s a matter of national pride here. Most folks here have a mini greenhouse or serre where they start their seeds, as it has proved fatal to direct-sow seeds before May 15th. It has been known to freeze before that date, although with climate change it has become less and less frequent. The change of seasons here is approximately six months of fall/winter and six months of spring/summer, so not a bad balance really. Here’s a pic of my tiny little serre:
and this is the greenhouse/sunroom of my dreams.
Just have to win the Lottery.
Despite the fierce veggie garden competition between neighbors mine have been very helpful in the relocation of my current plots. My dear friends Gilles and Alain came over last week with a rototiller and cut five new beds out of a rather wild grassy area behind my chicken coop. It made sense to move it there as it has a southern exposure and my compost is over there as is my well, which I look forward to using to water my crops this summer. Here they are hard at work!
I had marked out the beds with orange paint prior to them getting started. Alain ran the rototiller and Gilles and I cleaned out the grass clumps after the first pass of the rototiller. My hens Red and Coucou helped too!
When we were finished I brought out a bottle of Cremant de Loire, sparkling wine from the area, and a small nibble to thank them for their hard work.
They then hurried home before the six p.m. curfew and I took this last shot of the finished beds. The pink flowering shrub in the foreground is an ornamental current. Bees love it!
Next will come fencing and gates to keep the deer and chickens out. I can’t wait to plant out all of the beds! I’ve already planted three varieties of raspberries along the coop fence and will be planting Binje potatoes (the closest potato variety to the Idaho spud. Great for french fries or wrapping in foil and throwing them into your campfire!), Romanesco broccoli, strawberries, Brussel sprouts, and carrots. In my mini-serre are golden zucchini, eggplants, tomatoes, and flowers for the old plots in front of the kitchen.
So I am well on my way to my next harvest and exploring new recipes to share with all of you. Do you have a veggie plot? Share what your planting with us!
Stay healthy and happy and keep on enjoying the outdoors!
Denise, Gail, and Lindsey