Montrichard was a good outing last week and I'll post some more about it, but you must be wondering what is going on in Saint-Aignan these days. Same old, same old, really, and it's all seasonal — welcome to springtime. Right now, that means doing the last of the winter yard chores and also preparing the ground in the vegetable garden for the coming growing season.
The biggest early springtime chore is tilling up the soil in the vegetable garden plot. You might remember this photo of it that I took last week. It wasn't covered in tall grass or weeds then, but a lot of the invasive plants that had taken hold had deep roots. I knew that getting them out of there before they could grow even more was the right thing to do. So I did it.
Luckily, we've had a good dry spell in March, so the heavy clay soil isn't just a big mud pie. It's had time to dry out enough that I could work it with the rototiller. It's hard work (for a 67-year-old man), but it only has to be done once or twice a year. The garden plot these days is about 1000 sq. ft (100 sq. meters). Our plan is to enlarge it by another third or so this spring, before we start planting in May.
And then there was work to do on this little apple tree out by the back gate. I don't know why, but there are five apple trees — two in our yard and three just outside, on the edge of the vineyard — that seem to be mistletoe magnets. There are two other apple trees in our yard that don't have any mistletoe in them at all. Who knows why?
To the right is the pile of mistletoe that we managed to cut out of this little apple tree, which is the one in our yard that produces the tastiest apples. Half of the balls of mistletoe were covered in yellow flowers, and the other half were covered in white berries. If left, the mistletoe, which is a parasite, will eventually kill the tree, I think.
And here's what the tree looked like last week. We couldn't get all the mistletoe out of it, or at least we haven't been able to get it all so far. But we got a lot of it. Now, looking at the larger photo above, I realize that the tree is really lopsided and needs further trimming.