Monthly Archives: July 2011

Last Day of July

I cannot believe how quickly July has gone! Tomorrow is August, the holiday month, especially out here in France where the whole place just seems to shut down. This weekend is meant to be the busiest on the roads. The transition from July into August. Paris becomes empty of Parisians and, instead, fill up their countries other smaller towns fit to bursting.

Here, in Brittany, it is quite nice in some ways to see so many people, but always a pain when the car park is full. I asked some Parisian friends of ours why they never go abroad for their holidays but, instead, choose to holiday in their own country.’ Why go anywhere else when there is so much to see here?’ was basically the answer and in some ways you have to agree with them.

We have just got back from England. We went to Dorset in search of a new place to live. The ‘next chapter’. Having been away from the UK for over 7 years l was pleasantly surprised to find a corner of ‘our green and pleasant land’ relatively undisturbed, in fact, it was thriving. A new phenomenon ‘Farmers Markets’ were everywhere, ‘eat local produce’ was the big thing being promoted, and there was an overwhelming feeling of pride in the small towns we visited. Pride in their local individual shops selling locally produced meat, fish, beer, vegetables, dairy products and bread, mostly organic too.  Pride in their music and arts, their local fetes and festivals. As l looked around me it was refreshing to see so many people supporting their independent shops and keeping the supermarkets at bay.

Interesting too to see so many people on holiday in England. I am sure l would have been met with the same answer from the Parisian if l had asked someone in Dorset why they had not gone abroad for their holidays. Rose-tinted spectacles off, l am fully aware of the economic situation too but that is what makes my ‘discoveries’ so much more interesting. Despite all the cut-backs, job losses, etc, England’s small towns are fighting back. And l didn’t want to leave!

Railway Carriage Charm

We stayed in an old Railway Carriage in Eype that had been converted into a beautiful place to live, complete with kitchen area, living/dining room, a double bedroom, dressing area and bathroom. We loved it and as it was my birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary too, it made it a special place to be.

Back to reality, and here in France l have been scouring the internet for work in Dorset. There are a number of options open to us just as there were when we came to France, after all, if we could build up a small gardening business here, l am sure we could do the same back in England.  I would turn my hand to most things so l am quite hopeful something will come along.

The garden was like a jungle by the time we got back but just in time to start picking the first of the runner beans, one of my favourite vegetables. Finely sliced and boiled there is nothing better on a plate along with a knob of butter gently melting among them. I will miss my vegetable plot as our cottage we have rented in Dorset only has a small courtyard. Still, as it is a winter let it will be nice to have a break from looking after such a big garden for a while and to concentrate my efforts on making a living as well as exploring the beautiful countryside and Farmers Markets!

So, where does this leave me with this blog? Very soon l won’t have a garden to compare with the writings of Mr Middleton every week which, in a way, spoils the whole concept of this blog. I am thinking of still writing up his weekly gardening advice and just adding my own thoughts and other practical tips from other books instead? What do you think?

Some of the second-hand books l found in charity shops

It’s another lovely day out there so l had better tackle that jungle. I don’t want to leave our new owner a mess to deal with when he takes over in September. After all, us Brits do have a gardening reputation to keep to!


Posted by on July 31, 2011 in Gardens, July


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July – 1st Week

Mr MIDDLETON says: Keep quietly on without over-exerting yourself. That is the golden rule for all new gardeners.


July is a busy month in the garden even though the bulk of seed-sowing and planting is done. It is the time, too, when the vegetable garden normally looks its best, being filled with maturing and growing crops.

1. Fertilise Onions, Leeks, etc.- The last summer dressing of fertilizer is now given and feeding of crops, such as leeks and onions, is carried out. Both appreciate a watering with soot water. Water onions if weather is dry. Allow to drain a little, then apply liquid manure. Never apply liquid manure to plants suffering from drought, but first soak them with water.

2. Sow Turnips: Uncover Marrows.- Make a sowing of turnips now in the south for storing in the winter. Marrows in frames can be left uncovered.

3. Feed Tomatoes.- Feed outdoor tomatoes. Top-dress those in pots. Top-dress indoor tomatoes. Good soil, preferably from well-rotted turf, should be mixed with sand and peat, and impregnated with fertilizer as a top-dressing for tomatoes and cucumbers.

4. Work on Celery.- Finish planting main crop celery.

5. French Beans, Mint and Tarragon.- Make last sowing of Dwarf French beans outside. These will mature in September. Make new beds of mint and tarragon by transplanting young growths from old beds.

6. On the Potato Patch.- Spray potatoes with Bordeaux mixture to prevent blight. Lift early potatoes as required. Fill land cleared of potatoes with winter greens, or sow mustard as a green manure. Short-horn carrots can also be sown after potatoes.

7. Sowing and Planting.- Plant out winter greens. In the North this should be done without delay. Plant white and purple sprouting broccoli, late Savoy’s, cottager’s kale and January King cabbage. Every delay in planting in the north reduces chances of real success. Lift shallots if ready. The foliage will die down and turn brown.

8. Fruit Culture.- Continue to summer-prune trained fruit trees, first doing cherries, plums, pears and then apples. Red currents and gooseberries should also have their growths tipped.

July is turning out to be a busy time everywhere and not just in the garden. Funny thing blogs. I mean what are they exactly? Who do we right them for? Ourselves? Yes, to a degree of course, but then we share them with the rest of the world to read and make of it as they wish. So when, suddenly, your life is being taken over by issues that cannot be disclosed on a blog for all and sundry to see, and your time is taken up dealing with whatever life happens to throw at you, it makes writing your blog, at best difficult, and at times almost impossible. Giving up would be very easy. But l came downstairs this morning faced with another pile of paperwork to sort out and thought, blow it, l’m writing my blog. I need to escape back into the world l love and share with people the nicer things in my life. One day, all of this crap will be sorted out and put behind us, but right now its not a nice place to be.

As a lot of you know, we are selling our home and returning to the UK. With a fair wind we will know by tomorrow. Its pretty certain so we are having a week or so back in blighty to look for somewhere to live. All very exciting!

We had some friends over yesterday and they left with a bumper bag of goodies from the garden; courgettes, beans, carrots, potatoes, lettuce, tomatoes, radish, mange-tout and eggs.Enough to keep them going for a few days. I love giving friends some veg. It makes all that hard work worth it when you see their faces so appreciative.

Better get things sorted ready for the weekend. We have a good neighbour who is going to look after everything for us while we are gone. I’ll just add a photo of the potatoes we had the other evening. Whoppers! It’s a variety called ‘Cherie’ and are big enough for jacket spuds. Mmmm…my favourite.

Big Spuds


Posted by on July 4, 2011 in July, July - In Your Garden


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