24 May 2007

Finally getting the garden in

The weather has decided to start cooperating with the gardeners of Saint-Aignan. We are late planting this year. We probably should have planted in April, when the weather was warm. I can say that now, because we know that we didn't have a cold snap in May, as often happens. According to local custom, we aren't supposed to set plants out before mid-May.

The herb garden in front, and behind it the three
vegetable garden plots all tilled up and ready to go

The piece of equipment that makes all this possible is the rototiller. It's gas powered and makes fairly short work of a project that would require many hours of back-breaking labor if we tried to do it with a shovel and a hoe.

The Staub rototiller that we bought in 2004

This year we'll have tomatoes (Walt set out 15 plants yesterday) of all kinds: big yellow tomatoes (thanks to Harriett and Tom in Urbana, Illinois, for the seeds), plum tomatoes, two kinds of beefsteak tomatoes, and tomatillos. I see salsa and salads and tomato sauce in our future.

Another view of the garden, framed by two apple trees

We'll also have zucchini, yellow squash, okra (if the seeds germinate), green beans, eggplants, and red bell peppers. Oh, and some blettes (aka bettes) or chard, because our friend Gisèle is going to give us some seedlings this afternoon.

The tomato plants are all staked out. The pumpkin patch is
in the far corner, backed by a piece of corrugated sheet metal.

And a couple of days ago, I tilled up a new plot out in the far corner of the yard, where the previous owners had their compost pile. That should be very rich soil. Walt went out and planted two kinds of pumpkins and some butternut squash back there. We'll just let those take over our new pumpkin patch.

Gardening tools leaning up against the trunk of an apple tree

The gendarmes (firebugs) under the linden tree seem to have produced a new generation this month. There are millions of them. They are harmless and even beneficial, since they live on plant detritus and process it into the soil as poop.

Baby firebugs (called gendarmes in French) devouring a rose petal.
Notice the adult firebug on the right. Guarding the babies?

After all the gardening work, I like to stretch out on a chaise longue in the shade, read newspaper articles printed off the 'net, and listen to my favorite afternoon radio program (Les Grosses Têtes on Radio Luxembourg). Callie likes to sit nearby and chew on things — grass, a rawhide bone, a cleaning rag... whatever.

Callie's latest toy: a cleaning rag.

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