Eco-Gites of Lenault is in Living France Magazine


We have had some lovely spring weather over the last week and spring is definitely in full swing with the swallows and cuckoos back.  But these fine days have come at a price and for the last few nights we have had frost.  In fact it was -3ºC on Monday morning early when I took the boys to the bus stop and sadly, even with polytunnel protection, that was cold enough to kill off quite a few of my tender plants.  I lost all my early courgette seedlings, and about half of the tomatoes and chillies and my potatoes are looking a bit sorry for themselves ... but I hope they will be OK. I am really cross.  It is not too late to resow but it means I will have to wait that bit longer for my first homegrown tomato etc.  Over the last few years I would say that our springs have been colder than I remember in the past - often daytime temperatures are warm which leads to clear skies and those killer night frosts.  My Facebook page reminded me that 4 years ago the fruit trees were in full blossom where-as this year they are only just coming out now.  However, it is not all bad news and we have also seen much longer, warmer autumns recently so hopefully this slight delay in getting going will just mean I can harvest veggies later into the year.  And the daffodils I planted horribly late last year are still in full bloom now.
Daffodils in Normandy
And now onto something completely different - I mentioned a while ago on A Green and Rosie Life that I would be writing for Living France magazine and this month saw the first of my 4 articles published. I am writing about the garden here in Lenault in each season and this was my Spring report. Unfortunately, there was a slight mess up at their end and the piece was published with the wrong pictures (it wasn't even our house/gite or garden) so I have played around on Canva to add the photos that should have been there. The text is however not that clear so if you want to read it, I have added it below.

Eco-Gites of Lenault in Living France magazine

My French Garden: spring in Calvados

When we moved to Normandy we knew two things - we planned to open an eco-gîte and we wanted to make ourselves as self sufficient as possible in fruit and vegetables.  The gîte is open and the vegetable garden now probably gives us about 80% of our vegetables and all our soft fruit.

Spring, therefore, is a very important time of year when I really need to get going in the garden but there can be such variations in weather.  March has seen us both snowed in and have temperatures in the high twenties, neither of which makes planning what to do when easy.  I am itching to get thing going but know a late frost could kill tender vegetables.  

There signs of spring are all around:-  frog spawn in the pond, primroses along the roadsides and things are stirring in the veg patch.  Rhubarb leaves are poking through, early blossom is out and weeds are starting to grow!  There are still a few winter vegetables to harvest (Brussels, leeks, cabbage, kale, parsnips, lambs lettuce, chard, oriental greens) with purple sprouting broccoli and early peas bringing in something new but we are also about to enter the "Empty Gap".  Winter veg will soon be finished and it will be a while before spring plantings are ready - thank goodness for stores of pumpkin and potatoes etc as well as frozen and bottled produce. We won't go hungry just yet but I do need to get going if that is not to be the case!

It is at this time of year that the polytunnel really comes into its own.  It is all go on the sowing front with the tunnel providing much needed protection for tender seedlings and as the days pass it gets steadily more full. However it is unheated so the most tender plants are started off inside and then moved out once they are growing ... at which point I have to keep a very vigilant eye on the forecast and if any frost is forecast they either get brought back in the  house or given extra protection in the polytunnel.  It may be a lot of work but it does ensure earlier harvests. Getting things going outside can be slower, especially if the soil is waterlogged or cold but I usually take a risk and sow a few seeds early - some years this works and some years a late frost kills them! 

"One of my favourite early spring jobs is buying seeds"

I split my seed buying between the UK and France.  In France you have a much better choice of seeds like French Beans (somewhat obviously) but the UK is better for seeds such as Parsnips and Runner Beans. And I always buy too many!

Spring is such a special time - a new season full of new hopes for new harvests to come.  Each year I try to grow something new.  Our garden here in Normandy is no warmer than  our garden in the SE where we moved from but I didn't have a polytunnel back then.  Now I can try all sorts of new things in my plastic friend.  This year I have chosen some different tomato and chilli varieties (some of the latter have very high Scoville scores so we'd best watch out for some hot dinners later in the year) and outside I am planting new pumpkin varieties.  As for totally new plants I shall have to scour the local garden centres to see what they have on offer - I quite fancy seeing if I can get a ginger root to grow. 

I have grown vegetables since I found some old seeds in my grandfather's potting shed when I was about 10 years old.  In the UK, for the greater part, I had allotments which always meant getting in the car to go and do any work.  Now my veg patch is right on my doorstep and that makes such a difference.  I can pop out for 10 minutes to do a bit of weeding etc and the produce I harvest can be on our plates in minutes - zero food miles and the freshest of tastes.  You can't beat it!

Bio - ‘Rosie Hill, her husband Simon and their two sons live in the Calvados region of Normandy and run and family-friendly eco-gîte -’


I am linking this post up with Annie's How Does Your Garden Grow linky and Phoebe's All ABout France one. Click on the image below to head over there to Lou Messugo for more French posts.


Lou Messugo