Rendez-vous au jardin de juin: paillage et mise á point

This weekend French gardens are opening their doors to the public. It’s a yearly event called Rendez-vous aux jardins. Many gardens are offering free access  and are hosting special tours. They couldn’t have chosen a better weekend for this event. It’s a perfect getaway from the warmth of the city.

I wanted to join in the fun with our garden – but as our garden isn’t an open garden – I can only join with an semi-open garden tour via the web. I hope that’s good enough for you!

Water management

Yesterday evening I went out to make the pictures for this post. It was a very typical evening for this time of year. Very hot and steamy. The clouds were trying to produce some water, but in the end nothing significant came out. Whatever did come out, evaporated before it reached the soil. Poor soil.

Our garden therefore is really thirsty. It hasn’t rained properly for weeks. Our watering barrels have been empty for weeks as well. We are trying to water everything with a drip hose now, but that isn’t working perfectly. Partly because we are using old hoses that haven’t been mulched yet, and are probably calcified, and partly because the position of the hoses isn’t properly fitted. It’s a work in progress.

This year the beginning of June in the garden has been evolving around water management. Fine-tuning water supply, and fine tuning supports and other details around the veg patch as everything is growing like crazy. Hooray! Let me show you around.

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veg patch

Drip hoses

Let’s talk drip hoses first. Drip hoses are a really good system for watering your garden in a time- and water efficient way. I love using them and I love how they blend into your garden (when mulched). They water the roots of the veggies, and therefore diseases also aren’t spread that easily. You could say they are ideal, but that’s not completely true.

The problem with drip hoses is that they dry out and get old, they break and their tiny holes get calcified. It’s hard to spread them in the right way around a garden…. Und so weiter…… So it’s not the perfect solution for a vegetable garden, but for us it’s the most perfect one.

If you are also getting into drip hoses and want to start using them, please don’t forget to cover them with mulch as soon as you lay them out. Direct sun shortens their life span. And when the season ends, don’t forget to take them indoors as soon as possible. Also if you have a lot of lime in your water (like we do), don’t forget to use some diluted vinegar to clean your hoses at the end of the season. We just soak our hoses in water mixed with vinegar for a day or so. These are things that we are learning now, that are making our lives easier, when it comes to watering the garden with drip hoses. I wish we knew them sooner. But it’s never too late to learn. Do you have any advise to add on this subject?kitchen garden - pumpkins kitchen garden -

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With temperatures that are ranging in between 30 and 40 degrees in the full sun, it’s really important not only to water the garden, but also to make sure that whatever water reaches the soil, stays in. I’ve therefore started mulching the garden. I’m using hemp for a small part of the garden and all the pots on the terraces, and grass clippings for the rest (biggest part) of the garden. I haven’t been able to get enough grass to cover all the soil yet. I think that with upcoming mowing round, I will get enough to cover everything. I should have saved some grass earlier in the year I guess.

I also mulched the paths this year. It’s all covered with wood chips from our own orchard. I don’t use the wood on the beds, because I’m not sure what it will do with the nitrogen level of the soil. I will have to do more research on that before I try that out.

With mulching in general, you have the risk of getting a nitrogen deficit. Your plants will turn yellow (instead of green) and will not reach their full potential. To prevent that, I sprinkled quite some used coffee grounds all over the garden. Hopefully the grounds will start decomposing and giving off nitrogen at the same rate as the grass will take away the nitrogen. That’s the idea at least.

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In general everything has been growing like crazy this month. Please compare the beds with last months update, please take note off the pumpkins, the potato bed, artichokes and the tomatoes. Amazing right? What a difference a month can make. We are also noticing that it’s really difficult to keep up with harvesting all the greens that are growing like crazy. Same goes for the radishes. Luckily many plants can be eaten in different stages, so we are not forced to throw many things away. That would be a pity.potatoes kitchen garden - potato patch kitchen garden - pumpkin field kitchen garden - gate kitchen garden - courgette kitchen garden -

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Friend or foe?

I’ve already talked about the lack of water that is threatening the growth of the plants right now. That isn’t the biggest foe of the garden. I have a bigger problem on my hands with the aphids on my beans. I really don’t know how to get rid of them. I would love to write down a solution for you if you are dealing with the same problem. But I don’t have one. This might be the last year I’m growing beans and it’s really disheartening.

I’ve literally tried everything (natural) to get rid of the bugs, but nothing works. Well, maybe I haven’t tried everything. I have one option to go, I guess I will give it one more try this week. If it works I’ll report back to you. But don’t get your hopes up. I doubt it will help. If you have other suggestions than spraying with water or any other kind of diluted water mix, please let me know!

Owh wait, before I forget. Something else happened this month. Something foe-related, but it was furry, so I forgot the evilness of the occurrence and labeled it as a friend in my mind. On an early morning, I was hanging the laundry outdoors, when I suddenly heard something that sounded like a huge bird moving in between the bushes. Not sure whether I should do something or not, I decided to turn around and keep on hanging the laundry. The thing would not be able to attack me from the back that way. As soon as I turned around a full sized deer came out of the bushes! Bambi! In the middle of our garden. WTF! WTF! This had never happened before. We have a gated garden, as does everybody else, so it’s not something common to happen.

Eduard was about to get up and in my excitement I wanted to shout my lungs and tell him to come out of bed quickly to see what I had found. But at the same time I didn’t want to over-shout and scare Bambi away. I’m not sure how I called out to him, but soon he joined us in his underpants and we both tried to enjoy the presence of the wild animal in our garden and shoo Bambi away. The only way out was trough our main gate. With a little stop in the veg patch, Bambi decided to move along and left our garden via the front gate.

This encounter made us realise that we really had to close of the veg patch on the back side. We were planning to do that all along, but didn’t realise that we had to move on with it. We actually thought that the gate around the main garden was keeping most wild animals away anyway. Apparently that wasn’t the case and that’s why I quickly set up a bamboo door. Another problem solved. I wish mini aphid gates existed!
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Cleaning up

This is a very unusual thing for me to do at this time of year. I always feel very time constrained with all the other things that need to happen around the garden now. But this year it’s different. I’ve said this before. I have learned that in the end (of everything) it’s easier to do things when things need to be done, than to postpone them. The latter gives always more unnecessary work. Normally these pots are all over the place, and with a little bit of wind, I have to pick them up over and over again. This way I don’t have to and everything is nice and clean for a next round of sowing.seedlings kitchen garden -

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The terrace

I’m ending this post with our terrace again. It’s getting greener and more luscious as the weeks pass. Fruits and flowers are hanging and growing all over the place. We said to each other, the other day, that the terrace is becoming more and more an extension of our indoor living space this year. Which is nice. We did miss having a lot of flowers around in the last two years. We just decided earlier that we didn’t want to invest in flowers as we were leaving France, but now that we aren’t, nothing is stopping us!


So what am I expecting for June? May brought us tons of strawberries and loads of peas and leaf greens. June will for sure bring us many tomatoes. The first ones are already turning red! Next to that I’m expecting more greens, but also beetroot, kohlrabi and cucumbers. Work wise, I expect to have a bit more work on finishing the mulch layers and sowing some more veggies. The hard work is almost over.

Well that’s it for this months garden. I hope you enjoy your weekends as well and please let me know if you have something to add on water management in your garden and natural pest control.