In this part of the French News Online "Lifestyle" Section,
professional gardener Mike Alexander, takes us, gently, through
those tasks you should be tackling in the garden this month.
Mix veggies and flowers together
For years I was not a great fan of vegetable gardening.
I think because of being forced to memorize successions of lettuces
and potential pest problems on peas, when I first started studying.
The more showy design side of horticulture held much more appeal
to me. Since moving to France however veg production has really
grown on me and I now find it to be one of the most rewarding
parts of my work here. I have also begun to find that a well tended
potager with it's tight military rows of lush green plants can
be very visually rewarding. Food production in the garden is terribly
in vogue at the moment and I hope that this has not influenced
my thinking too much, as I try to avoid following the ever changing
trends in gardening that come around each year
walk fashions or new mobile phones.
I think there are two sides of the potager that really attract
me. One is the quick reward of growing annual plants which appeals
to my lack of patience and the other is of course the delight
in sitting down to a meal produced almost entirely from my own
sweaty endeavours. I have still to see any significant financial
advantage over just buying from the local market, but there are
rewards in life that cannot be weighed purely in financial terms
and home food production is one of them. What is more if you are
prepared to move away from the conventional a little then for
a few months of each year you can create something of real beauty,
by combining flowering plants within the veg patch or visa versa.
Your plants would benefit from a potassium
By August flowering and fruit producing plants will start to need
a boost of potassium and the way I like to do this is by using
an ancient mix of what the French call purée d'orti.
Grasp the nettle - get your own back
This is a home made liquid fertilizer that I always have on the
go, using simply nettles and water that I allow to ferment for
about a month. Find a large plastic container, a cheap plastic
rubbish bin works perfectly, half fill it with nettles and then
top it up with water. After a few weeks the concoction will turn
into a nutrient rich soup which plants love. Just mix it at about
ten to one in a watering can and then water plants with it once
a week. I use it on heavy feeders such as tomatoes and peppers
as well as dahlias and lily's. In fact most garden plants at this
time of the year will be grateful for the nutrient boost, but
beware! The smell given off by this plant cocktail is pretty appalling
and if you get any on yourself, your own mother won't let you
in the house. I am not a purist, so if the thought of having such
a pungent mix is too much for you, then you can always go down
the more expensive chemical fertilizer route, but hard core greenies
will hate you.