Friday, 26 February 2010
Thursday, 25 February 2010
Tuesday, 23 February 2010
Now is the time of year to be vigilant for emerging caterpillars. Late this year because of the prolonged cold weather, they will soon be leaving their cocoon in pine trees to move on to the next stage in their lifecycle. If you see them on the road, try and run over them – obviously making sure you drive safely !
If you are able to reach a nest, carefully remove it by cutting down and burning. [Make sure you burn according to local fire restrictions / regulations] Be aware that even hairs left in old, disintegrated nests can still cause a skin reaction.
[nighttime when they emerge to feed on the sap from the pine needles]
They are extremely dangerous to domestic pets and people as their hairs are extremely urticarious. Any contact with the hairs will cause a severe rash to the skin and if they get into mouth or eyes, you should wash with abundant amounts of water and see a doctor as soon as possible. If you know your cat or dog has had contact – usually through sniffing at them or trying to eat them, again use a shower to rinse the remaining hairs away, especially from the mouth, and get to the vet URGENTLY.
[it didn’t help that the wind was blowing whilst trying to film this !]
The following is from Wikipedia :
The Pine Processionary (Thaumetopoea pityocampa) is a moth of the family Thaumetopoeidae. It is sometimes placed in the genus Traumatocampa. It is an abundant species of pine woods in central and southern Europe.
It has cream coloured forewings with brown markings and white hindwings. The species flies from May to July. The larva is a major forest pest, living communally in large ‘tents’, usually in pine trees but occasionally in cedar or larch, marching out at night in single file (hence the common name) to feed on the needles. There are often several such tents in a single tree. When they are ready to pupate, the larvae march in their usual fashion to the ground, where they disperse to pupate singly on or just below the surface. The larvae should never be handled as the abundant hairs on their bodies cause extreme irritation to the skin.
- Pine processionary INRA-FRANCE http://pin.processionnaire.com/
- La processionnaire du pin revue Stantari août 2008
- Chinery, Michael Collins Guide to the Insects of Britain and Western Europe 1986 (Reprinted 1991)
Sunday, 21 February 2010
Thursday, 18 February 2010
Tuesday, 16 February 2010
Sunday, 14 February 2010
Saturday, 13 February 2010
Thursday, 11 February 2010
Then last year we spied three flowers on our lemon tree and eventually three fruit appeared, but instead of being lemon shaped they were completely spherical … and they kept on growing. Imagine our surprise (and Madame’s) when we eventually cut open the fruit to discover they were delicious grapefruit !
As you can (hopefully) see in the photo, this year the tree has fruited prolifically – Madame has had her fill and so have other neighbours and friends in the village and one has even made grapefruit marmalade for us.
I would like to know if we have the only grapefruit in the Var? According to Hugo Latymer in The Mediterranean Gardener grapefruit trees only survive above -3°C, so there can’t be many around and ours must be a particularly hardy one. If any one knows of any growing around here I would be fascinated to hear about it.
[There’s a very interesting article in French on the Gerbeaud site about grapefruit]
Wednesday, 10 February 2010
After pruning I give them a generous layer of manure : about two large French breakfast cups of manure per rose and try to mix it with the existing soil. Then they are sprayed with Bouillie Bordelaise, which I repeat when the new young leaves appear on the branches.
I’m always looking out for bargains where manure and fertilizer are concerned. Today I found horse manure at the Intermarché in Barjols very reasonably priced, just 4.90€ for 20 kilo. One bag was sufficient for 10 roses and 4 fruit trees.
The photo shows the yellow Rosa banksia, Dutch irises (Iris x hollandica) and white flowering ground cover roses.
Sunday, 7 February 2010
If one of our readers has an idea please comment on this post.
Still looking for this tree under the name Ficus in a book by Serge Schall about Plantes Mediterranéennes, I came across an entry about the normal fig tree – Ficus carica. Something I did not know and might be of interest to our readers. I’ve quoted the French text :
“Les variétés unifères donnent une seule récolte de figues d'automne, (certaines dès le mois d’août)
Les variétés bifères produisent une première fois sur le bois de l’année précédente, à partir de juillet. Mais l'essentiel de la récolte est fourni par les figues d'automne, du mois d’août aux premières gelées.
Chez les variétés unifères : on peut tailler à n’importe quel niveau, car la production de fruits se fait sur les rameau de l’année en supprimant 1/3 a 2/3 de leur longueur.
Chez les variétés bifères : il ne faut pas tailler tous les rameaux aux mêmes temps car on risque de se priver de la récolte. On se contente d’en tailler une moitié à la fois, en réduisant les 2/3 de leur longuer.”
Apparently there are two types of fig trees :
Fig trees that fruit only once every year, they produce their fruit from August onwards. You can prune the whole of the fig tree by 1/3 to 2/3 as the fruits are produced on the same year’s growth.
Fig trees that crop twice a year, the first crop from July onwards is on last year's growth, and then again in autumn from August onwards till the first frost. When pruning this type of fig tree, only half of the branches are pruned by 2/3, the remaining branches the following year.
So before pruning your fig trees make sure you know what type you’ve got.
Saturday, 6 February 2010
Février reste le mois de la taille et des premiers semis au potager.
Au verger, nous allons tailler les arbres fruitiers à pépins, c'est-à-dire pommiers et poiriers avec pour objectif de réguler la formation des fleurs et d’obtenir une belle récolte équilibrée tout en pensant aux années suivantes. Une bonne observation des « yeux » est nécessaire à cette pratique, des cours à ce sujet sont très utiles pour se sentir « plus à l’aise » avec son sécateur à la main. Le traitement à la bouillie bordelaise peut encore se faire sur les pêchers pour la cloque mais avant la floraison.
Au Potager, le semis des fèves et des petit pois doit se faire en cette période et en profitant des périodes plus sèches pour bien préparer le sol, mon conseil est de n’apporter aucun compost à ces légumineuses qui ont pour faculté de « fixer » l’azote de l’air sur leurs racines. Sous abri chauffé vous pouvez semer les tomates, courgettes, melons pour plantation en avril ou mai.
Les Rosiers, seront taillés à partir du 15 février dans les zones bien protégées et en mars pour ne pas prendre de risque avec les froids de printemps. Le dicton nous dit : « Taillez tôt ou taillez tard mais taillez en mars ». Je conseille des tailles modérées qui consistent à « rajeunir » le rosier sans tailler court.
Les dernières plantations en racines nues doivent se faire pour laisser la place aux plantes en conteneurs ou godets comme les vivaces, arbustes et conifères.
Les plantes sensibles au froid resteront encore sous abris, les serres et les vérandas ont besoins d’être bien aérées lors des belles journées ensoleillées. Il faut aussi veiller la présence des insectes comme les pucerons, acariens et surtout les cochenilles. Vous pouvez faire des lâchers d’insectes prédateurs spécifiques à chacun. Une adresse utile pour acheter ses « auxilliaires » : Harmonia.
Bon jardinage à tous …
Jardinier de l'Abbaye de Valsaintes
Jardinier de radio France Bleu Vaucluse
(thanks to Jas de Marmatel for passing this on)
Friday, 5 February 2010
Fennel is native to the Mediterranean area and introduced to other regions of Europe. It prefers wasteland and well-drained soil in a sunny position. Fennel is one of the oldest cultivated plants and has been used for culinary and medicinal purposes for at least 2,000 years. Every part of the plant can be eaten, from the seeds to the root.
The Romans had a real liking for it. It was used to keep in good health and by the women to prevent obesity. The famous emperor Charlemagne, who ruled a large part of Europe and set up herb gardens near all his residences, declared in 812 AD that fennel was essential in every imperial garden. It was one of the nine herbs held sacred by the Anglo Saxons for its power against evil.
As it turns out the ancients were quite right in valuing the herb.
Drinking an extract of the seeds (simmer for 30 mins) helps against constipation, stimulates the production of breastmilk and helps to regulate the menstrual cycle.
An extract of the seeds and root together helps with slimming by working as a detoxicant and diuretic.
All parts have a culinary use :Seeds – in curries, fish sauces, bread and for sprouting for winter salads and not to forget in Pastis.
Leaf – finely chopped for salads and cooked vegetables. You can add it to soups, sauces and for stuffing oily fish.
Stem – young stems can be added to salads and eaten as a cooked veg.
Bulb – (Florence fennel, the fennel you find in the shops), slice or grate raw into sandwiches and salads or cook as a root vegetable.
Depending on the weather we can start gathering the leaves by the middle of March.
Thursday, 4 February 2010
The agenda for the meeting was to discuss buying seeds and possibly sharing the cost of postage and whether we should have a blog ! We discussed what we might grow and Saskia showed how she starts certain seeds off in up-cycled plastic supermarket packaging containers. It was suggested that we should all try to grow some vegetables in pots for fun (and food) such as purple carrots, golden beetroot, the usual herbs you buy at supermarkets and ‘cut & come again’ salad leaves sown into wooden vegetable trays, lined with old compost bags. The compost should be watered before sowing and then more compost sifted over to the same depth as the size of the seeds.
Marie-France has a large area of ground near her house that, after building works, has been used as a parking area. In the Summer it becomes a dustbowl and blows through the house and into the pool. She wants to plant a Prairie with wildflowers, but has to prepare the ground first and it was suggested that we might have another pot luck lunch at her place and help scarify the ground ready for seeding. A further post will be made about planting for wildlife etc at a later date.
Sue brought copies of catalogues for seeds, plants & roses : Graines Bauxmaux, Schryve Jardin & Meilland Richardier (see the links to the websites on the right – just click on them) which she recommended.
There then followed a rather ‘animated’ discussion about the merits of sharing our information on a blog – but the outcome is this post and no doubt some tweaking in the weeks to come.