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The Grumpy Gardener - March

Hints & Tips With Mike Alexander
In his regular column for French News Online "Lifestyle" Section, professional gardener Mike Alexander, waxes lyrical as he contemplates his February garden.

Chinese Capsicum - not chinese at all, really. Further info: Wikipedia - click this image
Capsicum chinense
- Chinese Capsicum -

Hot Chilli and Similar Spicy Sauce

Many years ago I took my first horticultural qualification by correspondence while working on an oil rig in the North Sea.

This meant that I spent my off-shift time wrestling with the ins and outs of herbaceous plant cultivation as my friends and colleagues poured over a magazine in which a curvaceously endowed lady by the name of Candice featured under the title -- Miss May. The hottest question at the time revolved around whether nature had truly so well endowed Candice, whilst my study of nature -- herbaceous and all -- turned out to be tame by comparison. As I remember the debate was never conclusively resolved and that probably remains the case. I however hope that I at least have managed to get a handle on some of those herbs that I now work with.

kitchen herbs
Culinary Herbs in Pots

Kitchen Herbs
One of my clients has decided that this year we will dedicate a large section of her patio to growing culinary herbs in pots. The area is very sunny and ideal for this purpose and as since Miss May days, herbs have captured my attention, this is a task I look forward to. Not only are potted herbs attractive to look at and of course a major asset to cooks, they also carry with them a long pedigrees of folklore and myth that greatly adds to the interest in growing them. Culinary and medicinal herbs have been used by man for as long as 60,000 years.

Hottest Chilli In the World?
I will need to have ordered seed by the end of this month for any plants that are being grown by this method although I will bring in many as plugs or in pots grown from cuttings taken last year. I was also lucky enough to stumble on a stall holder at a market selling punnets of mixed chillies which I subsequently dried. Each colourful little box held over a dozen different cultivars of Capsicum ranging from the mild to the spicy Capsicum Chinese"Habanero". This bright orange lantern shaped chilli is said to be the hottest in the world. I like a spicy meal but don't feel a need to plunge quite as deeply into the realms of the super hot - however their wonderful colours do add interest to our herb area.

Coriander - Simon & Garfunkel Missed this one
Coriander Leaves

In addition to Simon and Garfunkel's parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme I will put in lemon grass, coriander and of course a small standard bay. They will need a well drained planting medium with plenty of grit mixed in but many herbs will thrive in our warm summer weather.

High Hopes
Planted into a variety of different shaped and sized terracotta pots I have high hopes that they will add some dramatic focus to a fairly under-utilised area as well as being an healthy asset to my client's kitchen.

As for Candice, if you happen to read this could you please get in touch. I have some friends who still have some very pressing questions to put to you.

Previously - click an image below
To read February's gardening tips article - click this image
Is a world without bees possible? Read about this crisis that will affect us all - click here
Prune for Results
A World Without Bees?
What you should have done in January!
Prune your roses - click here
Fruit Tree Pruning
Wars of the Roses
Grumpy Gardener April - It's War Out There. Click to view
Click to read this article
Prune When Finished
Herald of Spring...
click to read Grumpy's july  tips
You've got to be quick!
Un-thirsty Lavender
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Grasp the Nettle
Star Jasmine - Madrid
To read this August 2011 article - click here
To read this August 2011 article - click here
Jihad - on Bunnies Ears
Autumn Arrives
Designer chic or neccessity? - click here for full story
To read this article - click here
Designer Chic?
Gravity - not to be ignored!
If winter comes, can Spring be far behind? Grumpy contemplates the winter garden
To access an article
- click an image -
If Winter Comes....

Grumpy Gardener
Our Grumpy Gardener has been gardening professionally in France for more years than he cares to remember and before that in Africa and the UK. Today he happily shares his expertise with French News Online readers. Your gardening questions are welcome and while they may not be individually answered, they may form the basis of future monthly columns.

Article: Mike Alexander
March 2012

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