What an autumn!

I gave up trying to garden from mid September until now for two reasons. On the night of 18 September we had rainstorms such as had not been seen here for a hundred years. In Lamalou les Bains, just ten minutes from here,  several people lost their lives as a wall of trees, water and mud swept through the town taking homes, cars and people in its path. The devastation was apocalyptic. The rain didn’t really let up completely for a further fortnight.

Our basement flooded thanks to already-full tanks overflowing and a river of water arriving off the hills above us and cascading down our drive and into the basement. We had to buy extra pumps and had three going over several days. I had already dug a ditch all the way around the top half of our courtyard to direct the water down beyond the potager, but the volume of water was so great that it became a waterfall by the time it came to the vegetable garden and missed the drains completely, drowning the whole area.

This was followed by huge winds and further storms in October which left every household for miles battling water and damp. Our house coped extremely well, but the last of the tomatoes and all the other summer fruits were bashed into an uncooked ratatouille. Only this week have I had the heart to venture back down and clear the whole lot up. It looks good again now, but I feel as though I lost a whole sowing and planting time.

The other reason the garden has been neglected is that we were concentrating on moving everything from our old house whilst it was in the process of being sold. That is now complete, but it was six weeks of solid hard work. It was a very big house and we had an enormous amount of ‘stuff’ which has now been sold or gone to charities.

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So I’m back in the garden again. The wet and warm weather means that the grass has needed far more cutting and strimming than I’ve been able to do, but I can’t wait to get it all tidy again. This morning I cleared out the greenhouse and tidied it up ready for its winter’s work. It was very satisfying to feel a bit more in control.

Meanwhile, despite the potager having been ravaged by the weather we still have wonderful carrots, parsnips, peppers and kale. The physalis provide lots of fruit to accompany breakfast granola and there are still tomatillos for spicy salsa. It was a poor season for apples, and the warm weather has fooled them into flowering now. Of course the first frost will nip them off, but I wish they’d preserve their energy. All the citrus seem to have finally put down good roots and are looking much more established. I was too late to plant brassicas, but I’m hoping to get early peas and broad beans in this week.

So there you have it. A brief catch up before normal blogging resumes. I hope your autumn has been a much more cheery affair.

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