The First Days of September

P6780273Some seventeen years ago, when we were starting out on the journey of schools with our children, meeting mothers and parents at the school gates for the first time and starting a completely new phase in our lives, I remember one mother who I had quite recently met bringing her daughter over to spend an afternoon with Izzi. It was a beautiful summer’s day and the girls played in the garden for hours. When the girl’s mother came to collect her in the evening she gave us a huge bowl of raspberries; they were from her garden and she had just picked them and I remember thinking, how I would love to be able to do that some day. And I still think of that moment quite often –  it’s what has inspired me to always grow an excess amount of everything.

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I love picking our own produce; there is nothing like preparing a salad, or cooking and eating things we have grown, as fresh as fresh can be. But there is also little that gives me so much pleasure as being able to give away a bowl of tomatoes, a box of figs, some cucumbers, courgettes, aubergines, or fresh eggs from the chickens; it doesn’t matter what it is, just the simple fact that I can offer such things to friends (or perhaps relative strangers) really does make me so happy. They say the pleasure of gifts is as much in the giving as receiving, and this is so true. Giving away fresh produce costs nothing but it fills me with a warm glow and pride in what we have achieved;  it’s a wonderful feeling of great contentment to be able to give something to someone else. Of everything we grow, I might just love eating a tomato most of all, freshly picked from the garden; it’s is one of the reasons I love my summer garden; I always think you can actually taste the sunshine, it’s the very essence of summer, distilled in the warmest of red globes.

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The no-dig vegetable garden has proved to be an enormous success. When we started out on the project I was not 100% convinced. I watched countless videos explaining the theory and chatted with a few friends who had a mixed reaction. But in the end we thought we would give it a go and the verdict is that’s it’s been a rip roaring success! The weeds are certainly a tiny percentage of the amount we normally get and they’ve been completely manageable; and the produce – well who knows – perhaps it’s just been a good year for growing, but it’s certainly been a bumper crop. In the long run, only time will tell.

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The end of summer is just around the corner, in the blink of an eye we will be embracing autumn. The garden is looking just a little tired, the lawn is parched and dry, nowhere near as bad as last year for this summer we have had spells of rain, but everywhere still has that fatigued look.

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A couple of mornings this week have been misty and cool, another hint that autumn is knocking at the door.

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Everywhere just appears sightly jaded, valiantly putting on a pretty display but feeling just a little worn around the edges.

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Our mosquito fish in the pond have also had a bountiful summer – the several dozen we were given three months ago have multiplied into a swarm of hundreds, happily gobbling mosquito larvae as fast as possible. We have felt the benefits each evening, too.

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It’s a time for evening bike rides once moreIMG_1432

 

and beach things and boards and bicycles litter the driveIMG_1442

The wisteria is blooming againP6780333

and I love the pristine white of the Japanese anemone against the Virginia creeper which covers half the walls of our property.

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Camera in hand, I suddenly noticed the fresh growth of the pampas grass gently blowing in the breeze. P6780246

The potager is much the same, happy but just a little weary. It might still be overflowing with produce but it looks slightly sad, and its jungle of leaves and forest of foliage has waned a great deal; it reminds me a little of a very faithful ageing dog. Don’t ask me why, but it just does, it seems to say to me, “I’ll keep on giving, but I am a little tired now and I no longer look my best, but I’ll still do the very best I can.” So now you have proof, I think I am going just a little mad, comparing a potager to a dog, but oh well, it’s good to be a little crazy sometimes!

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However, we are harvesting fresh food every day, especially those aforementioned tomatoes!

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Forget about perfection, looks can be deceiving. Small and perfectly formed is not always the best! We have a selection of varieties, some of the big ugly ones taste sublime roughly chopped in a salad or stuffed and baked with some local goat’s cheese melted on top. But the cherry tomatoes and the blush variety which look so pretty in salads do have one advantage, they are easy to snack on whilst working in the potager. Natural candy in vivid colours.

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I have learnt this year that tomatoes freeze well when left whole. An extremely simple time saving solution. No, they won’t defrost and be lovely in salads but they will be perfect for cooking. So if you don’t have time to make endless sauces all summer long, which this year I did not, freeze them on trays and then bag them up. When you need them in the winter simply take out as many as you want and cook with them. This is another first for us, so I cannot vouch for its success, but it sounds sensible and logical and I’ll let you know of the verdict during the winter! We did know people who swear by it……

The carrots have been the best we have ever known. Again I adopted a new method of sowing (it seems to have been a year for trying new things!).  Instead of the neat lines of the past I simply scattered the seeds thinly all over the prepared bed – what a transformation this has turned out to be. No thinning is required, and that back-breaking job of pricking out all the little seedlings which we didn’t want is no longer necessary. We just watched them grow and the weeding has been simple. Like our tomatoes they might not score 10 out of 10 for looks but they are full of flavour.

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Most things will keep going strong until at least the end of October, but it will depend on the weather. Last year we were eating tomatoes until December (I think our last three were consumed on Christmas Eve!!). The year before they were all wiped out by blight by the end of September as if to prove there are some things out of our control; but what we can do right now is savour everything while we can.

The courgettes seem to have rallied a little and are having a bit of a resurgence. But the sunflowers, so bright and vibrant a couple of weeks ago

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But anything purple is flourishing; the aubergines are flowering happily and producing as fast as they can, big fat shiny ripe fruits.

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and our fgs and grapes are a constant source of snack material – as always if there is anyone in the area who wants figs let me know, we have far more than we can ever do anything with or give away!

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There is still plenty to do in the vegetable garden. The remaining stones beside the huge wall still lay in the same place, untouched. Sometimes there just isn’t enough time to put into action all of our big plans straight away! So that is another project for the autumn and winter and then perhaps I can plant a couple of almond trees in front of the wall. There is so much more to do.

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As the saying goes,  “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”

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116 thoughts on “The First Days of September

  • This has just popped into my inbox RIGHT as I was settling down with a coffee. Brilliant timing, except for the fact we have nothing home-grown on the Sunday salad today. A lovely warm, comfort read, Susan. Thank you. Amy is grinning at the trug of tomatoes……

    • Thanks so much Simon, so glad to oblige!! When you come down this way this month I will supply you with drug loads of figs, grapes and tomatoes! Oh and we have just found a fabulous few apple trees totally neglected and uncared for, but the fruit is sublime! xx

  • Looks fabulous Susie!
    Can’t wait to see it!
    Leave uk Thursday so let us know if there is anything you want us to bring, email us x

    • So exciting, we can’t wait to see you both again. I will send you an email, I am quite sure Roddy will want some marmite!!! We are quite overrun with figs as always, and the grapes are the best ever this year, also plenty of salad items. So looking forward to sharing a big glass of wine with you both xx

  • It’s just not fair, our garden starts producing so much later in the year and it stops so much sooner! Already autumn is here in England, not that we had much of a summer anyway!

    • It truly felt like autumn here today, the sky was grey and we only saw the tiniest hint of blue! Warm enough in the low 20’s but definitely with that autumnal feel. I am hoping for a long Indian summer though, certainly not ready for autumn or winter quite yet. xx

  • What exactly is a no dig garden?
    Our tiny potager did fine this year and I managed to get 4 aubergines for the first time ever. Harvested my first potimarron yesterday and had it roasted with lamb chops.
    We got and are still getting lots of tomatoes but not as many as last year and they do not seem to ripen properly on the vine before rotting while still partly green. Oh well! I was never a gardener 😃

    • Nadia, if you have just a tiny potager, then the no dig would be perfect for you. I promise you should get lots of aubergines from each plant. I am not sure why your tomatoes rot, I would have to google that one! Perhaps because it has been quite a wet summer on and off, but we have had rain here too and have not had a problem at all. But do go to the site http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk it will explain everything in great detail. Basically you add lots of compost each year to the garden, 15cms or so and you don’t dig it in. It controls weeds, you don’t need additional fertilisers and you can plant in a more intensive fashion and trust me it really does work. We were a little sceptical, but I am a total convert, it is the first time I have not had a garden smothered in weeds and the produce despite the strange weather has been better than ever. Have a read through when you get a moment and then if you have more questions just send me an email and I can tell you what I have learnt, but I am still quite a novice! xx

  • I so wish I lived near you Susan, there’s nothing better than figs straight from the tree. I’d tasted them in the UK, but thought they were pretty tasteless, but a few years ago I stayed in a house on Menorca which had lots of fig trees in the garden, so reluctantly picked a few to try. The difference was unbelievable, so tasty & sweet, I lived on them for the next 3 weeks! Your photos as ever, are lovely, the first one of the rose is absolutely stunning, there is definitely a book here you know! xxx

    • Thanks so much Janet and thank you again, I so appreciate your uplifting comments. I love that rose, not for the photography, I just got lucky, but because it seems to describe this time of year so well, a little faded, jaded and warn but hanging in there and still giving all it can! I know what you mean about fresh figs, the type you buy in a supermarket are not a match at all for anything sun ripened and fresh. Ours are so sweet, I feast on them daily, for about two months! We have to make the most of what is in season whilst it is in season! Today our weather was most autumnal like, grey skies with only the merest hint of blue, still great for cycling! Hope you have had a lovely weekend xx

  • Whole frozen tomatoes work very well – to peel , just hold under some cold running water and the skin comes off almost like dipping fresh tomatoes in boiling water.
    I do enjoy all your posts and particularly the stunning photos.

    • I’ve done that too! I do pop out the stem before dropping the whole tomato into my freezer drawer (usually out of desperation as we’re leaving for a trip and haven’t eaten up all the produce). They’re perfect for sauces and soups. I also freeze raspberries in small bags (lay them flat to freeze) and they’ll thaw quickly to top winter cereals. I’m interested in your no dig garden. Do you have a link or should I just google “no dig garden”?

      PS, just had fresh figs last night baked with bleu cheese on top and was reminded how wonderful they are…

      • Hi Patricia, thanks for the advice with the tomatoes, I am rather excited about this new discovery as I never have time to make enough sauces in the summer to freeze and this will mean we have a freezer stacked full with them. The no dig garden really has been a huge success, a huge part of that has been the lack of weeds, or rather they are at a manageable level. The site where I got all of my information was from http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk I also saw a television programme about his gardening in the spring, but I really do recommend his methods. Fresh baked figs and cheese, a staple appetiser during August, September and October here!! Delicious xx

  • It’s a blessing in both directions when you can give something away, whether produce, time spent with someone, etc. I can almost smell the wisteria and enjoyed the trip through the garden/s. It’s gotten cooler here as well, although still into the 70’s F during the day and cool at night, a perfect combination for me and lovely sleeping weather.

    Hope you’re enjoying your Sunday,

    janet

    • Your weather sounds much the same as ours, but I understand it is due to get hot again next week, I am hoping for a long Indian summer. The cooler nights are perfect for sleeping though I agree. Giving produce, a simple gift, or one’s time is indeed the best thing we can give anyone, it is a blessing and lovely. We have had a wonderful Sunday, the last day of the holidays for two of the children, so we made the most of it, a huge family bike ride! Hope you are having a lovely Sunday too. xx

  • Wonderful Susan, I’m so sorry it was too dark to see it all. Next time! We have a tomato plant that must have grown from a fallen tomato as it’s right in the middle of the flower bed. I certainly didn’t plant it there, but it looks pretty though its cherry tomatoes are still green!
    I upgraded my account changed my domain name for my blog last week and I have a feeling that WordPress subscribers may not get my recent post because of it, could you let me know if you have? I wish I was closer, I would happily have taken some figs to go with my goats cheese soufflé. Have a great rentrée. Mxx

    • We should have thought about the figs Miranda, it never even occurred to me, we could have picked a box for you and you could have collected them on your way home. Oh well, next year, they go so so well with cheese, that was my lunch today! I didn’t get a blog post notification no, but I will go and have a look for one on your site now. Next time, I will take you around the garden, there is never enough time is there! Too much time spent swapping stories and amazing coincidences, I am still amazed at that!!! Hope we might see you again before next summer, you know if you both feel like a weekend away, where we are. Two go back to school tomorrow, the other two on Tuesday, too too sad xx

  • The art of giving. It takes so little, gives so much. You are a generous spirit, Susan and it shines. The garden still looks beautiful – like an aging screen-siren in need of a lie-down in a darkened room. I love your comparison with the an elderly dog. It fits beautifully. Have a wonderful week. I imagine you are in chaos today making sure all your ducks are in a row for la rentrée scolaire 🦆 🦆 🦆 🦆 xx

    • I feel your darkening cloud, Susan. Mrs C and I both wonder if we will get an Indian summer to prolong everything – it’s been pretty awful so far this year. I’ll swap you some mackerel for some figs if you want? Baked figs and mackerel with a balsamic vinaigrette is always a favourite with us for something sweet and sour. Love the mass of tomatoes as well!

      • Oh if only you lived closer, I would take you up on that offer in a heartbeat, I love mackerel, one of my favourites actually, especially if it is grilled on the barbecue. Yum, my mouth is watering just thinking about it. Still we are too far apart, but if I come to the UK in the car, I’ll bring box of figs! xx

    • Oh gosh don’t mention la rentrée, it’s just too sad! But ours are staggered, only G and Jack go back tomorrow as they start college and lycée respectively, the other two girls don’t go back until Tuesday. It is the same school for all of them, just in different sections. Goodness knows how this year is going to pan out, it is going to be interesting and time consuming and different, that is for sure! But the best thing is, everyone is just a tiny bit excited, sad the holidays are over, but just the teeniest bit looking forward to new adventures as well and that is a good thing, I never ever felt like that at all!! Oh and Iz has the best job ever, so actually all our ducks are in a row, but not without plenty of chaotic organising!!! Aren’t you glad those days are over!! My house looks like it has been hit by a bomb of paperwork, backpacks and general mess!! xx

      • Over? Oh yes! That bit is …. I have one into a wonderful new job, one seemingly settled into married life and great job well earned, one going back into education (Foundation Art) and one previously settled in relationship and great job in KL whose life went bang earlier this year and seems to be heading back to Europe. Upside? I meat aforementioned baby in Barcelona in November and we remake her life. That’s what mummies are for isn’t it? It never ends. And I am glad it doesn’t. Though I don’t honestly mourn the full-on school days you are still in xx

      • That is just what Mummies are for, it never ends, it just changes, but we wouldn’t want it to end either would we, I know I still love chatting to Iz daily and if not on the phone then via messenger. Thank goodness for modern day communications. Full on school days are fun, sometimes!! Many more years to go so I have to remain positive! xx

      • I know, I cannot believe that all four of them here are France are going to be in the same school, that has made them all excited. Also cannot believe my baby is starting college, where did the time go, I remember like it was yesterday her kindergarten days. But I do love every stage of motherhood, each one is different, each has different demands but they are all fascinating and so rewarding. xx

      • The best advice I have ever been given was from a dear Irish friend when my eldest was less than 2 …’go with It, go with it and you’ll have the journey of your life. Resist and it’ll hurt you both like hell’ He didn’t mean cave I or roll over he meant bend and flex and roll with it. The moments I forgot Tom were the moments of agonising and pointless clashes. Fortunately my memory is long 🙂xx

      • Fantastic advice, shouldn’t every parent be told that right from the word go. It is all meant to be fun, or at least that’s how I look at it and I can truly say it is, we have the time of our lives, doing things with the children is just the best and laughter is infectious!

    • What a lovely thought, they do say that talking to plants certainly helps, I havent gone down that route yet, but in my mind I frequently pass all of my problems onto the plants, it is a great place to be to just regain one’s calm composure and to completely relax. xx

    • Carole, if you have lots of tomatoes, then a cold diced baked potato, some crumbly cheddar and a couple of eggs make the tastiest of frittatas. I simply slow-fry the potato pieces and quartered tomatoes in some decent olive oil, seasoned with a little salt, pepper and a couple of oregano leaves. When they’re soft and just about golden (five minutes or so each side on a slow heat) I’ll gently pour a couple of beaten eggs about the pan, let it set over the heat, throw over a handful of shredded cheddar and place it under a grill to set, fluff up and go golden. Serve it from the pan quickly before it loses its air, 🙂 Green salad and a glass of Chablis go well……… one of my favourite egg dishes, and it will taste different because there is intentionally no onion or garlic in it.

      • By the way, of general interest, I have discovered that large cold baked potatoes, sliced, skin on, and pan-fried the next day until golden are fast becoming my favourite way to eat something of that ilk. Plus (if they are large enough) they make a great layer under something, too…..they’re also VERY quick to cook as well, being already baked.

        **goes off to put another pan of potatoes in the oven to bake**

      • Carole, let me tell you, Roddy is the master in the art of cooking frittatas, we all adore them, he makes them to order, we all explain exactly what we would like!!! Always one of the best lunches imaginable. xx

    • Tomato pie sounds delicious, I could eat anything with tomatoes all the time, plus they are so so good for us, what’s not to like? Ugly tomatoes rule in my book, and misshapen carrots, who cares, they taste divine! Hope you have had a great weekend xx

  • In the next life I will live in France!…Last year we had a dozen lemons but they didn’t turn yellow…this year we have NONE…so jealous of your produce. Now we are in September and there is the beginning of the autumnal chill.

    • If only we could have a say in these things! Did you know that you can pick green lemons and they will ripen once picked inside the house. I picked our final ones in December last year, ones that had not ripened fully, before we had a cold snap and a frost and they all ripened in the kitchen! Don’t worry, it felt very autumnal here today too, grey skies and only the merest hint of blue! But it is meant to get hot again next week, it’s been such a strange summer, unlike anything we have ever known. xx

  • I just love your garden and I am definitely going the no dig method next year, I was waiting to see what your verdict was, now I am convinced, thanks.

    • If you are interested in it Amanda then you simply must do it, I was a little sceptical I have to admit but I am a total convert, mostly because of the lack of weeds, for the first time ever, they were manageable and the garden looked good all summer long! xx

  • I waited until I had a quiet moment when I could read this in peace and pretend I was in your garden with you and on those bikes, oh that little cottage would suit me just fine!

  • We moved to Normandy a few years ago and one of the things we have enjoyed most is having our own potager and growing our own veg. We can’t grow lemons or grapes but we have everything we could ever need.

    • So many people who have moved to the country have said the same thing, they are amazed at how much pleasure they get from growing their own vegetables, I do truly find it so rewarding and so worthwhile xx

    • Thanks so much Elizabeth, there is nothing better than going round to a friends house with a whole box of produce, it gives me so much pleasure, just a simple thing and we have excess anyway but I love that other people can enjoy them. Hope you have are having a lovely labour day weekend xx

  • I am totally in love with that rose, such a beautiful photo, it seems to sum up the time of year you write about, fading and a little worn around the edges!

    • I totally agree with you, I hadn’t realised how perfect it was until I looked at the photo afterwards, it really does say everything there is to say about September, plus the scent is absolutely heavenly xx

  • I can almost taste those tomatoes. I have never hea d of freezing them whole but why not, it seems reasonable enough, let us know how it goes please.

    • I think the tomatoes will work well, in a previous comment someone told me what a success it is and also that when frozen, if you then run them under a cold tap the skin will come straight off, sounds like a great plan to me and we have just frozen several more tray loads! xx

    • Oh my goodness, you need to taste them, they are the sweetest we have ever grown, we all just wander down and eat them, straight from the vine! Hope you are having a lovely long weekend xx

  • I love the photos and can still taste the freshly picked produce! I arrived home yesterday, and after some recovery time will ponder what to plant in my little garden for the summer. Cheers to you all!

    • Hope you had a good journey back and that the flight went smoothly despite being long! Now you have the summer to look forward to, hope everything was as it should be and that it felt good to be finally home. Hope we see you again in a couple of years xx

  • Like other readers, wish I was nearer to take you up on your offer of figs. Home grown toms and carrots leave shop bought standing, that goes for runners too. Beautiful pictures as ever Susan….I hope that sun hangs on for a couple more weeks. xxx

    • If only you were closer, we are overrun with them as always! Totally in agreement about the taste of veg. It is meant to get hot again next week, usually we have a wonderful warm October, it only starts to get chilly during the day in November, fingers crossed. Having said that today had a distinctly autumnal feel!! xx

  • How true the pleasure in giving. We have a prolific bramley apple tree which we share with friends and neighbours. We received Victoria plums and home grown tomatoes in exchange. Free fruit throughout the winter for us all! I have just ordered two blackberry bushes which hopefully we can share the fruit from also. Best wishes from the UK.

    • How perfect, isn’t it just the best being able to share produce with friends and neighbours. We were eating blackberries today whilst out biking with the whole family, but it hasn’t been the best of blackberry years for us, they seemed to ripen early and then just disappear! Hope the blackberry bushes will be a success and what fun to have something else to share. xx

    • Hi Rosalina, giving simple homegrown gifts really is fabulous. The no dig garden has been a huge success, I learnt all about it from the website http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk I then watched a tv programme in which he was featured explaining his methods. I was a little sceptical, but it really has been incredible, so few weeds by comparison to previous years and great produce. xx

  • I wish I was nearer I would so love to have some of those figs and a wander and a chat in the veg garden too and the bike ride, oh my goodness I just want to do all of it. What a fun family you have.

    • I would happily give away as many boxes of figs as I could, I hate to see them go to waste. We try to make fun out of the most simple every day things, it seems to work well and doing things with the children is always most entertaining! xx

  • Another magical post,Susan!Once again as in you have totally captured our imaginations!
    I can’t think of a lovelier gift than fresh fruits or veggies grown and shared by a caring friend.
    At one time we had quite a large garden,and in addition were blessed with a seemingly unending supply of oranges,tangerines and grapefruit,plus wonderful lemon,plum,apple,fig and peach trees.
    I made so much jam and marmalade(!) and would share with dear friends and family for Christmas gifts.
    Was a gift for me,too,to share with them!

    • Thanks so much Natalia, you have hit the nail on the head, it is a gift for me too when I share things. Lucky you once being blessed with an endless supply of citrus fruits and plums, apples, figs and peaches, you must have been in heaven! I always marvel at how apples seem to adapt to so many climates. Hope you are enjoying the long weekend. xx

  • I enjoy reading about your family’s life in France. It sounds wonderful! I’ve put tomatoes (either whole or in quarters) in the freezer many times. When I want to use them in soups, stews, or chili, I just put the tomatoes under running water and the skin peels off easily, though you could probably leave the skin on if you prefer. It’s so nice in the middle of winter to have the delicious taste of summer in a recipe!

    • Thanks so much Tammie, it is good to hear that other people have frozen tomatoes so successfully and thanks for the skin tip, I have collected another huge trug load and will be freezing non stop again today! Much better than having to buy canned tomatoes in the middle of winter. I am rather excited by this new thing I have learnt! xx

  • I read your words and I look at your pictures and I know that we, in the fourth day of our spring, hit 30C yesterday. And I read that it may be the worst bushfire [wildfire, forest fire] season ever coming up and. yes, I somehow wish that I had a ‘cool’ summer like yours and did not have to ‘shiver and shake’ in fear again!! That said – wonderful photos of a season’s slow change and I am SO thrilled for you to have four children in the same place during the months following . . . what a wonderful challenge for both them and you . . . .

    • There is much to be said for the cooler summer I agree. In June everything here was so tinderbox dry, we had no rain for two months and everyone was seriously worried, not just for the risk of fires but for crops and everything in general, then the summer turned out to be quite wet on and off and fears in this part of France were alleviated. I pray that you don’t get the bushfires, they are horrific, I cannot even begin to imagine living through that fear. Two back to school today, the other two tomorrow, but they are all so happy to be together, different sections of the school, two are in Lycée and two in College but they will still all chat about the same Principal, the same art teacher and the same places. It’s good to be a big family sometimes!! xx

  • The weather’s the same here…..hot, then a cool morning or two, which is a bit scary, then back to summer. Whew
    I’m planting the yellow savory sweet grape tomatoes next year- really miss the flavor.
    Love your raised beds! Fab garden !!

    • I am just not ready for it to be autumn and winter yet, the summer went by far too quickly and the weather was definitely up and down after we had such a hot spring. The raised beds have been a huge success, I have not tried growing yellow tomatoes yet but I can highly recommend the blush variety, plus they look so pretty and unusual! I had quite forgotten we had planted them and when they first ripened we thought they were diseased cherry tomatoes!! But shhhh, perhaps I shouldn’t tell everyone quite how silly we were!! xx

  • HI, Just found your blog. I have just moved to a small hamlet near Gouzon, Limousine and we managed to set up raised bed and grow tomatoes this year. We too had a glut and froze them or simply cooked and put in jars to be used for pasta etc. One question – I have another piece of land, just threw potatoes in this year, but now all harvested – NO DIG method….want to try this myself, have a book – cant find as in all our boxes yet to be unpacked…..do you just pile compost material on top, lightly dug in or another method that gave you such good crops? The old double-digging method just doesn’t make sense. Our mole simply bringing up soil from deep down has created havoc with weed growing.

    • Hi Judi, we are very new to the no dig method, but theoretically yes, you just throw compost on top, a good 15cms and cover any stubborn weeds with a layer of cardboard which will eventually break down into he soil. There is no digging involved. I was very sceptical at first, but we have had such a huge problem trying to find the time to keep the weeds under control as our vegetable garden is quite large, this seemed like a good solution and I can honestly say I am amazed. Yes of course there have been some weeds, but they have, for the first time, been manageable! I got all of my info from http://www.charlesdowding.co.uk He is the king of no dig in the UK! Good luck with you new home and if you ever venture to the coast this way, come and say hello. xx

  • Well, if you think you were mad comparing your potager to an aging dog, as I started reading the paragraph, I was comparing myself to your potager. Didn’t get to your line about the mad comparison bit until the end of the paragraph. So if that is the case, let’s be mad together–me, perhaps a bit more than you!

    Must say, this is the perfect post for “September Song” – Frank Sinatra singing.

    • Oh how I laughed at that Mary, yes let’s all just be mad together, I think it probably helps in this day and age!! I think we all get a little jaded by the end of summer! Have a great week xx

    • Thanks so much. Summer always seems to go by way too fast, but you are right, autumn can be truly lovely, though for us it does mean a vast amount of work with fallen leaves, there is always something with a big garden to keep us on our toes! xx

  • Growing large tomatoes is a challenge here in Brisbane because of fruit fly but I had so many small tomatoes I was even cooking green tomato and goat’s cheese tarts to use them up. I am envious of the size of your garden and remember it well.

    • Hi Susie, how fabulous to hear from you. Yum, the tart sounds fabulous. When we first came to France I loathed goat’s cheese, I didn’t even like the smell, it was just too goaty! But I have learnt to really enjoy it, so long as it is not too strong, funnily enough Millie loves it too now! Hope you have had a good winter, cannot believe it is nearly a year and a half since you were here and another summer has gone by. Not a lot has changed!! Hope you come back to Europe and say hello again before too long.xxx

  • I am so envious of your beautiful garden and all the things you can grow. Lovely photos, they just get better and better, yours is a feast for the eyes as well as the stomach.

    • Thanks so much Varsha, Actually I find the potager is a feast for the eyes, apart from just producing things for us to eat I always wanted it to be visually pleasing, it makes working there so much fun and I love that we have roses in amongst the vegetables! A little unusual but really nice! xx

  • Oh Susan…lovely as usual. There is something about this first week in September that is so nostalgic for me. I am way past putting the children on the yellow school bus but when it rolled through the neighborhood today my eyes began to water.
    Your heartfelt post could not have come at a better moment for me.
    The rose you photographed so beautifully says it all. I’ve always looked at roses and thought about gratitude not only for their loveliness but in this particular instance it reminds me that just around the corner there will be colors like we’ve never seen before, warm drinks, carmel apple time and plenty of cuddles around the outdoor fireplace as the nights become chillier!
    Actually, Fall is my favorite time of year with its splendid colors. So, I am ready to say adieu to the summer of 2017 and I say bring on the fall of 2017 with beauty we have never seen before.
    Thank you for your wonderful post and recapturing Our French Oasis summer and helping us looking forward to fall!
    Perfection is that a word in the dictionary? Never heard it before!😳
    Happy First Week of September! Looking forward to spending the beautiful colors of fall with you in future posts!
    And you make lemonade beautifully and we ALL appreciate YOU so much! 🍁

    • Susan,
      Well…After I got done doing a “ditto to KiKi’s comment I scrolled down and here I am. Sleeped deprieved I guess babysitting my 15 month old granddaughter for 8 days while Mommy and Daddy are in France and Italy! I still love Your blog post and KiKi’s comment! 🙄😘

      • What fun to be babysitting for 8 days and how lucky are Mummy and Daddy to a) have you to babysit and b) to be in Italy and France, hope they have a fabulous time. I can imagine you will be exhausted after 8 days, it’s incredible how much time toddlers take up, I think we all forget! But I know you will love every minute of it. xxx

    • Thanks so much Stephanie, I just thought that rose captured the end of summer and these first September days without any words needed, still going strong but faded and jaded and definitely warn around the edges! It has been distinctly autumnal here this week, lovely and warm but grey skies and lacking our usual sunshine. Everyone is now back at school and the house is very quiet, but it’s a Wednesday which means no afternoon school, so normality will return in a few hours!!! xxx

  • I enjoyed reading this, I will continue to read and learn. I only have two chickens and a rather smaller garden but on the occasion that I have spare eggs I love putting them in a box and handing them to someone and tomatoes are very special.

  • The riches of nature – we do the same, with a bit more fish involved, and sea kale of course. This is the best time of year almost for us – less people on the beach, still warm enough to sit out and cook – just have to hope the weather stays warm. And that the wasps stay away a little 🙂 Love your garden, Susan – Mrs C says we have to stop in and see you on our way to Vichy (whenever that may be).

    • It will be quite a detour to come and see us on your way to Vichy, but why not make a giant road trip out of it! Hope you do manage to pull it off one day. The weather has turned decidedly autumnal here, but I think it is meant to be much warmer again next week, fingers crossed. But who are we to complain, with Hurricane Harvey and now Irma, we have nothing to moan about at all. My heart goes out to all of those affected. xx

  • Nothing says summer more than a homegrown tomato… Meanwhile, tell us about that wall in the last shot. Part of some other, older structure? Decorative? Neither?

    • Totally agree with you. The wall is at the end of our garden and runs the entire length of it, there are two giant openings like this. At one stage it must have continued even further as it stops abruptly as we join the property on the other side and their field. I would assume at one stage they were carriage openings. No one appears to know any more than this locally, so it must have been a very long time ago! xx

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