Wednesday, July 17, 2019


This is a variety of kale called Red Russian. It's the second time we've had it in the garden, the first being two years ago, I think. This year, a gardening friend gave us little seedlings, her surplus, back in the spring. They took off in the garden and were looking real good until a few days ago. We suffered an attack of flea beetles; they bore tiny holes in the leaves. This happened the first time we grew them, too. It's just a matter of waiting until the beetles go away (they do) and new growth takes over. We'll probably be able to harvest good-looking leaves in the fall.

Red Russian kale, just before the flea beetles got to it.

For two years we also grew Tuscan a.k.a. "dinosaur" kale, also attacked by and recovered from flea beetles. There is still some of that in the freezer, so we didn't grow any this year. A few years back we tried some curly leaf kale in the garden. It was good, but it turns out that the curly leaves are difficult to clean, so we gave up on it. These two varieties are easy to deal with, once the beetles go away.

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


The first tomatoes are forming now and all of the plants have blossoms. The first harvest is still a while away, but I'm already looking forward to it. There are thirty-two tomato plants of different varieties in this year's garden. If we're lucky, there will be beaucoup tomato sauce in the freezer this fall.

These handy plastic clips hold the tomato stem to the support. They're reusable; this is their third year in the garden.

We're still enjoying sauce from last year's harvest. We also make and can tomato paste, which is essentially sauce reduced to a paste in a slow oven. And then there are the dried tomatoes, a good ingredient for many winter dishes. But the best part is having tasty tomatoes fresh from the garden for salads, burgers, pizza, and other summer favorites.

Monday, July 15, 2019

The first zukes

I picked our first two zucchini of the season on Sunday. I sliced and grilled them; we ate them with grilled sausages and pasta. I didn't take any pictures, but here's an shot of the plant they came from.

A zucchini blossom in the garden. There's a tiny zucchini just to the left of the blossom's top petal.

Sunday was a busy day. I put up three mirrors, which meant lots of measuring and drilling holes in the walls. All went well with no mishaps. One of the mirrors went in the bathroom, one in the downstairs WC, and the third was relocated from the downstairs WC up to the loft.

There was also some Tour de France to watch, not to mention the nearly five-hour men's tennis final at Wimbledon. We were rooting for Federer, but Djokovic eked out the win. I noticed that Federer actually won more games than Djokovic (36 to 32), but Djokovic got the winning third set (of five) in a tie break. That's just how tennis works. So much for the grass court season. Now things will swing to the hard courts and the build up to the US Open in August.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

The summer deck

In good weather, we enjoy the additional living space we get on the deck, which is just off the living/dining area on the main floor of the house. Our house is what's commonly called un pavillon sur sous-sol (a detached house over a basement). In our case, and common around here, the basement is not below ground, but on the ground level, and the main living level is one floor above the ground.

The deck faces east. The umbrella helps to shade the table from the hot mid-day sun.
This year we have basil, chives, and parsley in addition to the flowers on the deck.

I've seen many houses like ours where the owners have completely closed in the deck with glass, adding a permanent indoor space to the house. But I enjoy being out on the deck in the summer, even if the space is not very usable in winter. Having the barbecue on the deck is more practical than it was out in the back yard. It's closer to the kitchen and I don't have to go up and down stairs to get to the grill.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Funky feline fotos

On Friday morning's walk, Tasha and I found Bert out by the pond. He likes to stalk the critters out there. It's probably mice who come to the pond for water. I've never seen Bert take a frog, and the pond is full of them right now.

Bert is 13 years old now, and he's starting to go gray!

A few weeks ago, Bert showed up with a limp, favoring his front left paw. It was swollen, but he let us manipulate it. He was also walking, going up and down stairs, and eating normally. We waited a few days to decide about taking him to the vet. When we took Tasha to the vet last year for a sprained leg, the doctor examined her (ka-ching!), took an x-ray (ka-ching!), and prescribed an anti-inflammatory (ka-ching!). Then we waited for it to get better, which it did.

Bert among the vines. The pond he likes to stalk is just out of the photo on the right.

So we didn't do that with Bert. His leg is back to normal now, and he's hunting again. A lot. He's brought at least one mouse home every day for the past week. Had we thought the leg was broken, we would not have hesitated to take him in, but his injury had all the appearances of a sprain or maybe a fight injury, so we let him heal himself, and he did. I wonder how many "lives" he has left...

Friday, July 12, 2019

A blanket of green

When the grape vines are freshly trimmed, the vineyard can look like a green blanket covering the empty spaces between patches of woods. It depends on the angle, of course. Like here, it's hard to tell that there are empty spaces between the rows of vines.

The summer vineyard under sunny skies.

We're experiencing a dry spell right now. No rain for weeks, and none in the immediate forecast. The sun shines brightly most days, and it's hot (although not as hot as it was during our recent heat wave). Our lawn, such as it is, is brown. This is nothing new. We've had many a summer with a dry spell like this (we've had other summers that were rain-soaked). The question is: when will it rain again? The grape vines have deep roots and they can easily survive these spells. But other agriculture needs rain. Grains, sunflowers, and corn are grown around us. The corn is routinely irrigated but the other crops are not.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Le potager

Here's a lousy photo of the vegetable garden. The bright sun is great for the plants, but not so great for photography. It's difficult to distinguish individual plants, but you might notice that at the base of each vegetable plant is a thriving patch of weeds. They're a mixture of crab grass, purslane, and other unwanted weeds. I try to pull them out, but they have roots deep and strong. I water each plant using a watering can, so the weeds thrive where the water goes. If I used a sprinkler, the whole garden would be lost under a mound of weeds.

A wide view of the garden. Behind the watering can on the right is the oregano patch.

The snow peas along the back trellis are turning yellow and dying now, but on the right side the yellow flat beans are climbing nicely. The tomato tripods are holding up with most of the tomato bushes climbing about halfway up at this point. On the left in back are two zucchini plants, in front of them are nine pepper plants and, to the right of that, a row of kale. The left-most tripod in front is planted with eggplant.