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Daphne

So how is the season so far?

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Sometimes I just can’t believe the things I’ve learnt on this blog!I’ll never raise a glass of wine again without wondering if fire or water helped produce this wine!  Love it! Xx

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9 hours ago, Girly said:

Sometimes I just can’t believe the things I’ve learnt on this blog!I’ll never raise a glass of wine again without wondering if fire or water helped produce this wine!  Love it! Xx

I couldn’t believe the amount of work that happens in the vines it’s a non stop process from pruning, fertilising, pest control, trimming and harvesting. They work in the vines daily, all that work for a bottle of wine.
When I was last home in the UK I went to the supermarket and purchased a bottle of wine that is produced about a mile from my house here in France and was shocked that it was over £10 when we pay €3.

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It must have been a nice surprise though, to have your local wine on sale nationally in another country!  Most wine here is drunk within a mile of its production (because its very rough and ready, I'm not sure anybody would actually buy it) and lots of people have an adega where friends come round for a drink.  Because its all drunk locally, its completely normal to have serious wine making equipment, including giant casks, at home, if you see an estate agent's ad for a rural house there will be lots and lots of pictures of wells and adega equipment, less photos of the house!  This week has seen my neighbour spraying copper sulphate on the leaves - I take my lead from him so that's next on the agenda.  A lot of locals here have lived/worked in France and return here for their holidays.  We know one family of 3 generations and the whole of the ground floor is a sort of glorified garage.  I have never seen so many bottles of wine domestically!

Thanks for the info CT, very illuminating 😀

In case anybody was wondering, raw garlic scapes taste like raw garlic, not like ransomes!

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There's an awful amount of tax on alcohol in the UK @Ursula123 and that wine may be considerably more now with import duty post-Brexit? However the price of beer in the pubs is pretty cheap compared to France; last time we were in a bar (for coffee), half a pint (25cl) was over €4, probably something to do with the business tax system here.

We're finding ragwort all over and I thought it had been dealt with. Looks like it was dormant last year and has now decided to shoot and the rate it grows is staggering; from hidden at ground level to flowers in three days.

Next job is to take the fleece off the potatoes, which won't be easy as we have strong winds from the Southeast now bringing the warmer air.

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The wine in the local co-operative isn't terrible @Daphne and at €1.40 a litre it means we would never bother making our own. Rules here are a maximum of 100 vines per house, based on a bottle from each and that is considered a sensible annual consumption. Any more and you must be a registered business.

Well the potato fleeces are off and it's a DISASTER. Everything has been frost burned to a crisp. Now all the fleeces were pegged down over frames, so the leaves haven't been bruised and all I can think of is the wind was sufficiently strong to blow through the fleece rendering it useless? Anyone had the same experience? It only got to -1C here as well.

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I remember when I was a girl, helping out at local stables, one task was to get rid of ragwort in the paddocks.  We used to pull it up by the root, from memory its a deep taproot, so its much easier after rain.  Given we were feeble 12 year olds I don't suppose we did it very well at all and probably the stables were resigned to just dealing with the topgrowth every year in the Spring.  As with all weeds, getting to it before it flowers is key, but I have just looked up ragwort to find its biennial, so probably you had a sneaky 2nd wave waiting in the ground to appear this year.  Good luck with it.

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Cross posted!  1.40 a litre is very cheap, we don't have the concept of a co-op for wine here (although we do for olive oil) so you can't go and buy something en vrac, which is probably why people make their own.  A cheap bottle/tetrapak to buy is about 90 cents but I'd only cook with it or put it in sangria or something, a 'normal' cheap bottle is around 3 euro.  There is no limit on the number of vines you can have, and actually we are looking for some extra land for vines and olives, and saw some this morning with 70 vines and 20 olives plus assorted other fruits/nuts and a well, but no price advertised so not sure if its a goer or not.

I have no direct experience of your potato problem, it sounds bad, I'm sorry to hear it.  However, I planted out some tiny strawberry runners about 2-3 weeks ago and some of them have very crisped leaves (not black).  I don't think its me watering the leaves and them getting sun scorch, I think it is wind burn, because the day after I planted them out we had terrible winds, seriously bad, and carrying pollution/sand from Africa.

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Ragwort has a very strange root @Daphne; a shallow sub-surface 'root' with side shoots and it's certainly not deep. So it could be pulled out if the ground was very soft, but otherwise it easily snaps off at the base and survives. We're walking the land every day now to try and catch them all, because it's a problem we don't want forever. Frequent stops when mowing to dig them out when spotted. There is another weed that flowers a week or so later with a deep tap root and that's not ragwort, but easily confused as the flowers are very similar and the leaves are not immediately visible.

In Spain at the supermarket we were buying white wine at €1.25 a litre and it was better than our co-op. Diesel was 20 cents less a litre as well. Because of the risk of travelling (and now we can't) we're buying Spanish wine in 10 litre boxes in our local supermarket and that's only €1.80 a litre and not bad at all. They seem to drink red wine here a lot and the last we tried at the co-op was awful.

Potatoes are burned in different parts of the rows, so it must have been the wind. Good news is part of the earlies in the middle of one row are OK, so they will be ready on time. For next year we will try to buy a heavier grade fleece. The stuff we used and bought in the UK was burned the same as the fleece we bought here so it's not a quality problem. We used that UK fleece in the UK and then in France down to -4C without any problems.

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News said today the the frost has caused catastrophic damage to the agricultural produce. The fires and water sprays didn't work, so large areas of vineyard and soft fruit have been badly affected. No doubt they will explain further in due course. So my problem with potatoes is insignificant in the scheme of things, but normally there would be nothing wrong with our fleece and the forecast says it's going to be tested again middle of next week.

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My broad beans are on the windowsill and going bonkers! Very tall now and I'm worried about planting them out due to the low temps forecast overnights. Would they be happy in a very sheltered spot, do you think? I really hadn't expected them to grow so much so soon!

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Yes, I think so but will have to repot them first - they've gone ballistic! If I'd realised how mad they'd go I would have held off a few weeks! Will have to take their chances once they have been out in the day for a few days! Also will need the windowsill space for toms and runners! NEED  a greenhouse 😂

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4 minutes ago, Cat tails said:

Amazing how much growing energy is in one bean! Roots are already shooting out of the bottom.

Yes, mine too. That's what is worrying me........I don't remember broad beans going this mad before!

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10 minutes ago, soapdragon said:

I soak my broad beans and runners for 24/48 hours prior to sowing which helps break down the tough outer.

I used the method of Huw Richards: soaking them for an hour in warm water before sowing. Before they just rotted away in the compost.

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We had 5 potentially frosty mornings and now the fleeces are off again. Maincrop potatoes (Desiree) were not very affected by the first frost, but the Agata earlies are now about 3 weeks late. The first frost hit the fig trees and the Kiwi, but before the flowers appeared so we should be OK. Last year we lost a bumper crop of Kiwi's, firstly to the 9 weeks drought that caused the leaves to drop and sunburned the fruit. The 25% remaining were lost to an early frost and turned to mush.

Good news is our tomatoes are going great. The difference to last year is the result of a video showing to to prick out and pot up the seedlings. The hole in the compost needs to be deep enough to bury the stem to within 1cm of the first leaves, which allows roots to grow from the buried part of the stem. The plants are now shorter and thicker stemmed than we have ever seen; all we've had before have been very weak stemmed at this stage and needed support, so this year we are expecting a bumper crop!

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8 hours ago, Beantree said:

Good news is our tomatoes are going great. The difference to last year is the result of a video showing to to prick out and pot up the seedlings. The hole in the compost needs to be deep enough to bury the stem to within 1cm of the first leaves, which allows roots to grow from the buried part of the stem. The plants are now shorter and thicker stemmed than we have ever seen; all we've had before have been very weak stemmed at this stage and needed support, so this year we are expecting a bumper crop!

OOOOh, that's interesting! Thanks for the tip - will try that when I put them into the gro bags!

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I didn't know that either, thanks for the tip. 

We are eating broad beans now, regularly, along with rocket and beetroot leaves.  A few strawberries (very few) are forming from the tiny runners I was given, which is a result as I can't quite believe the plants were big enough and they took an age to take any sort of hold.  I ate a carrot missed from last years harvest - horrible, very watery.  The big mature fig tree is on its way out, a friend said they are suffering from something in Italian called black tip disease, and thats basically what happens,   Branches die back from the tip, and it doesn't form leaves on the affected branch.  We took out 25% of the tree last year and have just done another 25%.  The whole thing will have to be felled in the autumn and burnt.  We had the cut branches and leaves in the house to burn a few days ago, and there was a really strong smell of fig tree/leaf.  It is possibly my most favourite scent in the world.

We went to a nursery yesterday, for the first time in 18 months.  They had some fabulous kiwi vines, what an attractive plant, you just want to stroke it!  Homegrown kiwi are a revelation aren't they?  We can buy golden kiwi and normal green ones.   Unfortunately we don't have space for one (I just hang round looking as they I need to be fed one by a kindly neighbour) as they need a lot of space and a strong structure.  Many people here grow them over structures and keep their cars under them in the shade.

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I have a kiwi. It is a pretty plant but it’s a complete thug. It grows so fast and keeps climbing up the plum and the cherry that are near it. And despite that it’s never produced a kiwi. 

I don’t know why I care I don’t even like kiwi fruit!

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