08 February 2011

Hints of springtime

We have had two gorgeous days in a row! Yesterday the weather service that I track on my computer said the high temperature was 16ºC in Saint-Aignan. That's the low 60s F. And it's March or even April weather.

Our own thermometer said it was only about 11ºC, just over 50ºF. It was one of those days when sunny spots felt very warm but shady spots were still pretty chilly. It was noticeably warmer out on the sunny western edge of the back yard than it was on the shady north side of the house where the thermometer is located. Whatever — we'll take it. Maybe spring has come early, the way winter did.

We have a good colony of cyclamens sauvages that
come up and flower in the yard in late winter.

I have memories of Paris this time of year. On the first warm days of the year, it would feel almost hot out on the streets where the sun was bright. But then you'd walk into a shady courtyard and feel like you were going into a walk-in freezer. After a few days of warm sunshine, the temperatures would even out.

Speaking of out, it was time to get outside and do things. Walt went out and pruned back all the rosebushes around the house. He wanted to pick up some leaves but they were still too wet to work with.

A long tilled plot for planting lettuces
under a garden tunnel

I got the rototiller out of the garden shed and went to work on two of our six garden plots. In the really long, narrow plot you see in the picture above, we plan to plant some lettuces — frisée, scarole, romaine, etc. — starting around March 1.

Snowdrops are coming up all around the hamlet.

Our normal planting date here in northern France for crops like squash, tomatoes, beans, and eggplants is May 15. For early crops, we have a couple of cold frames and a cloth garden tunnel that we can use to protect the plants from the cold and frost.

This will be my cabbage patch this spring.
It feels good to be working the soil again.

In the smaller plot out in the back corner of the yard, where I planted potatoes last year, this year I plan to grow cabbages. Probably collard greens, mostly. Maybe some mustard greens. Maybe I'll plant some turnips or parsnips.

This morning on TV they are lamenting the lack of fresh snow in the Alps. Ski vacations start next week, and the old snow is melting. Tant pis, eh ?


  1. I am going to want to know how you keep snails from eating all your salads.

  2. Still summer here. Woke up to 28 centigrade and it stayed 30 centigrade all day. But winter will surely come. I have already noticed a couple of tree branches turning red.

  3. How exciting to be able to begin your garden now..........We've still weeks and weeks of winter ahead. The earliest thing we can do is plant peas on St. Patrick's Day. But I'll be in Florida!

  4. Those cyclamen are beautiful, as are the snow drops. Soon you'll get the hyacinths. Cyclamen are quite pricey in the nurseries here...

  5. Tant pis, indeed, it's time for Spring in Saint-Aignan!


  6. Love your flowers- I see my favorites are coming soon also-the primroses.

    I envy your black soil.

  7. I'm envious, too, of your wild cyclamen. They are so hard to keep going inside.

    You do have gorgeous soil. My guess is you have quite a compost pile and keep your soil amended regularly.

  8. Ken- those snowdrops are sublime!
    Your early spring garden has been captured perfectly.

  9. Meredith, we'll probably try the beer in jar lids or trays out there, under the garden tunnel. And we'll hope the snails and especially the slugs drown in the beer.

    Evelyn, that really black soil is a spot where there was a compost pile for many years before we moved here. We moved the compost and tilled up that ground to grow things in it.


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