Another month passed by in a whim and the next one has just started. 1 May did not only introduce a new month to us, it also officially marked the beginning of our permanent stay in France. I am not sure whether to name our stay here permanent, but I’m guessing it’s as permanent as any other location we would be living right now. So let’s call it permanent to keep it simple and clear. To keep it focused. Focused on embracing this country as our own, learning the language, understanding the soul and customs of the locals and creating a useful and happy existence in it for ourselves.

Although I called myself a migrant these last two years, I have been living like a true expat here. Which was ok, as we were going to leave again, but now that we are staying, our migration plan has changed. I now have this crazy wish to learn to speak French fluently, like I did with Dutch. I am not sure I will ever succeed, but I’ll give it a go.

Anyway, this isn’t supposed to be a post on my thoughts on life, it’s supposed to be a garden update post and let’s make it into one. In 2013 I called the May blogpost ‘A lot has happened’, which was mostly the case in real life, but not really in the garden. If I compare the garden to last years garden, many things had changed in a years time and if I compare it to this years update, it’s just incredible to see the progress. The perfection is in the progress, not in the status quo. Keep in mind that last years update was a few weeks ahead of this years update and the season was also far ahead of this year.

What I find most remarkable is that the soil has undergone such a transformation, it’s really incredible. I’ve said this many times before, but big part of the current vegetable garden was living under a sheet of plastic on top of which a swimming pool lived. The pool wasn’t here when we arrived, but the sturdy sheet of plastic still was. We had to take everything away and found a lot of dead soil all over the garden. No living creatures living under or on top of the soil. It was virtually impossible to dig up some of the dirt as it was solid as concrete. The second year much of the structure improved and this year it really has transformed into this dark soil due to our yearly rotating system and our continuing addition of organic matter.

It’s wonderful to see these changes. It also shows that it doesn’t matter on which kind of soil you garden. Eventually with the right type of interventions, you will be able to improve any soil. I recently listened to a explanation on this by Milkwood. They were explaining how you should choose a piece of land to start your smallholding or farm on. Their general idea was, that the quality of the land didn’t matter. It didn’t matter if it was flat or on a slope. You can work with everything as long as you chose the right community to live in they said. That part is much more important than choosing the right piece of land. This resonated with me. Definitely something to keep in mind for our next steps in life.

Let me show you around and let’s start with our amazing dwarf peach tree. Look at those peaches! Aren’t they amazing. There are at least thirty peaches hanging on those small branches. We are wondering how many will survive. We don’t have any experience with peaches, so if you have any, please let us know if we should thin them out or just leave them like this. They seem to be doing fine.

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The cherry trees are full with fruits. I think that trimming the trees in march really improved the health of the trees. Little over a month to go till we can start picking the first cherries. Last year we didn’t have a good harvest (late frost), but 2013 was really amazing, we didn’t know what to do with all those cherries.

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In the vegetable garden, many things are happening. I’ve been planting out a small part of the warmth loving plants (tomatoes, pumpkins & courgettes). The weather is really warm here now and I didn’t see a reason why I couldn’t do that. So I just did it. The plants were also getting pretty big, and then it’s better to put them out in full soil if weather permits.

I did have to add some more compost to the pumpkin bed you can see above. Not only to feed the pumpkins, but also to prevent more erosion on that part of the garden. The owners of the house, don’t want to deal with this problem, so we solve it in a way that it works for us, but doesn’t cost us a lot of money. I don’t think it’s a long term solution, but that’s something the owners of the house should deal with.

Last year we filled that part up with twigs and covered it with cardboard and compost, to deal with the immense amount of weeds. It really worked. We killed most of the weeds. The cardboard has also fully composted, nothing is left now after a year. I can definitely advise using that method to get rid of your weeds. I am using this method this year again on another part of the garden. A new part, more about that later. Let’s move along the other parts of the veggie garden.

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Red pakchoy

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the amazing herb spiral

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colourful lettuce in between the broad beans

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artichoke bud

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spinach and beetroot growing side by side

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first outdoor tomatoes

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hundreds of strawberries ready to turn red

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courgettes in full soil

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radishes and smallest on the background

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our weekly harvest of asparagus

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swiss chard

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red broad beans

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peas in different stages of growth (successional sowing)

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new potato bed earthed up (blogpost coming up)

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first tomato in one of the pots on the terrace 

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blue corn popping up

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strange looking Siberian may berries popping up

I still can’t believe the transformation of the garden from two months ago. Look at this beginning of March garden. Barely anything growing there. In two months time we probably will have a hard time walking on the paths in the garden, as everything will ge overgrown.

My feeling is that most of the work for this years garden is done. I have sown most of the veggies, I will have to do some successional sowing  for crops that I want to harvest at different times, but really most of it is done. It will be a matter of planting out plants, keeping the weeds down and harvesting, lots of harvesting. Where March was the month of the kale, April was definitely the month of asparagus and radishes. May will be the month of peas and strawberries. June for tomatoes and cherries?

What a joy and privilege it is to be able to look ahead and see some wonderful things lined up for the future, whether these are dark red cherries or bigger things in life. And what a difference a half year can make. Our lives seem to be all about searching for a path and finding a direction, until we end up at a next crossroad.