September in our Normandy Garden
I am British so I am pre-programmed to constantly watch the weather and being a gardener means I tend to do this more than everyone else. We are now officially in Autumn - temperatures should be dropping, rain falling, mist filling the valleys ... but not yet. It seems as though Normandy did not read the "It's Autumn" memo and summer is hanging on.
Since July we have had almost no rain - we did have a couple of wet days earlier this month (we were away!) but only enough to split a few of my butternut squashes and not enough to wet the soil properly or make the grass greener. Last week the man from the water board came to read our water meter and I am rather dreading that bill arriving. Our well ran dry in June and since then I have been on metered water for the polytunnel. We do collect rain water off many of our roofs but it is nowhere near enough to keep the polytunnel wet nor for the constant filling of pig water troughs when they think there is nothing better than upending the trough to make a mud wallow!
It is actually not unusual for us to have great daytime temperatures in September with 2016 being no exception: this week we have seen the mid to low twenties and clear blue skies on most days. However these clear skies usually mean that night-time temperatures fall fast and we have known frosts as early as Sept 28th. Well not this year and last night we ate dinner in the garden and whilst we did light our fire brazier the boys still didn't feel the need to don anything more than T-shirts as the temperature held up around 19ºC. This morning, when I took them to school at 7am it was still 15ºC. I am sure, soon enough, we shall see temperatures tumble but in the meantime I am just enjoying our Indian Summer.
I am still harvesting plenty from the veg patch including a rainbow coloured array of peppers/chillies and bowlfuls of tasty raspberries. But things are slowing down now and so to help the remaining tomatoes ripen I have removed virtually all the leaves to let in as much light as possible. I have dug up the early courgettes that were in the polytunnel and will be heading off to market later to hopefully buy some leeks to plant in their place. These never get particularly big but make a few tasty meals in spring when the outdoor ones have finished. I am also going to sow some cut and come again lettuces and oriental greens in seed trays which I can cover with plastic propagating covers when the temperature does dip down low. I may even give some mange-tout a go. They might not survive if we have a hard winter but if it is mild it will give another early crop along with those leeks.
Oh and if you want to know a bit more about my garden in autumn then you need to get yourself a copy of the October issue of Living France where you can read my gardening article, the third in a series of 4 charting the highs and lows of my Normandy garden through the seasons.
How has your September been? Have you had our rain?
This is a HYDGG production in association with Annie at Mammasaurus. Do head over to her blog for more gardening goodness - her photos are FABULOUS!