31 May 2012

May is over and done with

May 2012's last morning is a foggy one. We had some thunder and a significant amount of rain late yesterday afternoon and into the evening. It hadn't rained in at least 10 days, so we needed it.

In the two weeks since we got home, Walt has mowed the grass twice. The first time, the grass was so high that he had to use the grass catcher. That really slows down the process, because he has to stop and empty it so many times during the mowing.

Blue bellflowers — these are called campanules des murailles,
I think — growing along the front of the house

Yesterday he mowed it again, in anticipation of the rain that was predicted. This time, it was short enough that he could use the mower's mulching feature. The job was done in less than three hours' time.

This was the state of the garden plots a few days ago.
Tall grasses and weeds had nearly taken over
by the time we got back from the U.S.

Meanwhile, I got out the tiller and worked in the garden plots again. We still haven't planted anything but a few lettuces that Walt grew from seed back in April. Those are doing well and are nearly ready to start harvesting. But we haven't yet planted any tomatoes, eggplant/aubergines, peppers, or beans.

The garden after my first morning of tilling work, and after
Walt used the weed-eater to trim up the edges of the plots.

Because it rained so much in April and again in May while we were in the States, grass and weeds invaded the garden plots that I had tilled up in March. The job had to be started all over again. Two of the plots are covered, actually, with trimmings, leaves, and other yard waste that we've been planning to burn one day. Those won't have weeds on them, at least.

Here's how it looks this morning. The long narrow tilled strip
is where we plan to put in eggplant/aubergine and
bell pepper seedlings this year.

As I worked yesterday, the worst happened. The rototiller broke down. It's not the engine — that runs fine. It's the throttle handle. A part broke off and the cable that controls the speed of the engine is inoperative.

Walt coming home between rain showers yesterday afternoon
after his walk with the dog. He's on the road, but it's hard to tell.

If we can get the parts we need, it might not be hard to repair. Another option is to take it to a shop and have it repaired and serviced. The problem is the size and weight of the machine. We think we might be able to pick it up and load it in the back of the little Peugeot, but we're not sure. When we bought the tiller in 2004, we did actually put it in the car and bring it home, so I guess we can do it again.

Not sure what these flowers are, but they're blooming
all around the vineyard now.

Maybe a repair shop will come and get the thing, repair and service it, and deliver it back to us. That would be the best solution. We're going out this morning to see if that's a possibility. We'll also buy some tomato, eggplant, and bell pepper seedlings to put in the ground that has been tilled.


  1. Your two sets of bellflowers, first and last photos, are blue as everybody can see, but two different shades of blue. I wonder if the colors shown are the same as in the actual flowers. Carolyn, a few days ago, mentioned that her photos of blue flowers were never the true color. I have the same problem.

    Last week I took hundreds of pictures at P&M’s, and many were of blue or bluish/purple flowers. Not one has shown the true color.

    What I know about physics could be written on the head of a pin and there would be a lot of space left, but I think it may have to do with the wave length of those various shades of blue. I have no problem with shades of red, yellow, orange and green. Does anybody have an answer for that? Thanks in advance.

  2. We had enough thunder around yesterday that I switched everything off, but it came to nothing and not a drop of rain fell. My seedlings in the veg garden could have well done with a shower! Diane

  3. Pretty sure the blue flowers in your last photo are also a Campanula.

  4. CHM, bonjour, the lighting conditions were completely different for those two photos. The first one was basically in the shade, and the second was taken in full sun. I'm sure that makes a difference. But the flowers are also not the same variety, so the colors may be different. (Thanks, Antoinette...).

    I almost always take pictures with the color mode setting for Vivid, not Standard or Natural. Only when the subject is deep red do I change to Natural, because reds in Vivid mode are too saturated.

    Diane, sorry you didn't get any rain. We got 6 mm (¼").

  5. Here in Texas these days, we
    often seem to go 10 months
    without rain. Ten days would
    be a blessing.

    I'm quite suree they're both
    Campanulas too.

  6. Dear Ken,

    I love your site - I have just discovered it. I have left a couple of comments and I am mentioning it with links on my confit de canard UK site (which is where Brits can get duck in tins in the UK).

    I hope you don't mind but I've borrowed one of your pictures to illustrate the piece. great looking food, recipes and pictures. Lovely!

  7. Wow, you guys had some work cut out for you (no pun intended). The veggie patch looks so clean and ready!

    Our tomato plants are growing well! Mine have shot up past Elliot's -- his are getting a little less sun each day, and he also planted his in the existing soil, whereas I prepped my soil with a mix of fertilized top soil, mushroom mulch, and coir. We'll see how things go!

  8. Hi Judy, we got 10 tomato plants this morning, adding to the six cherry tomato plants we already had in pots. We also got 6 eggplant plants and 6 bell pepper plants. Plus flowers. All will go into the ground or into window boxes over the next day or two. I hope all your tomatoes stay healthy and produce tons of fruit.

    Hi Keith, I don't mind about the picture, and I don't mind a little of the right kind of advertising, like yours, but not too much. I agree that duck confit out of tins can be very good, even though I have the luxury and time to prepare mine from scratch. Buying the confit in tins is a good way to get sufficient quantities of duck fat. I buy cuck gésiers (gizzards) that way, for salads and other dishes.

    Hello Sheila, 10 months without rain! You must live in a desert. You must be in west Texas. I've driven through there a couple of times. Gorgeous, but forbidding territory in some ways.

  9. The garden looks beautiful. So sorry about the rototiller. You guys certainly do a lot of work around there... and it never seems to end. I'm glad you both enjoy it so much. I got to enjoy in pictures the products of your hard work!

  10. Mitch, the rototiller repair man said he couldn't just come and pick the machine up — it's more complicated than that, involving grouped pickups and deliveries on a longer time schedule — so that it would be best if we delivered it to him ourselves. Now we have to get it all cleaned up and get it into the little Peugeot. It will be interesting. I'll take pictures.

  11. Ken

    Do you remember this gentleman from NC?
    Doc Watson (1923-2012)

    He passed away yesterday .

  12. N., I saw that Doc Watson passed away yesterday. I know more of him — his reputation — than I know his actual music. He was a legend though. He came from Western N.C., which is 400 miles / 650 km distant from where I grew up, and he was older than my father.

  13. Your second campanula looks the same as the one I get in the orchard. I haven't got round to keying it out yet, but I think it is probably Rampion Bellflower Campanula rapunculus. According to Wikipedia it is edible.


What's on your mind? Qu'avez-vous à me dire ?