Nuts about Hazelnuts

I am nuts about nuts. I love to eat them, but even more so I love to cook with them ~ then eat them. Given the chance, I could spend on nuts what others spend at a coffee shop, easily and regularly. I can’t decide if walnuts or hazelnuts are my favourite*, so when we discovered last autumn that we have both in the garden I felt like a kid in a sweet shop with the biggest smile on my face. Read On

Building Compost Bins – out of bits and bobs

Compost Heap - in the beginning, it was a heap.

Compost Pile – in the beginning, it was a heap.

When we first moved to our new home* in France, there were a few obvious projects that attracted out attention – the vegetable garden (maximising its space and putting in a mini-vineyard) and the compost heap. Literally. It was a heap. Continue reading

Garlic Virgin – Live and Learn Gardening

If you have read my earlier gardening posts you understand that I classify myself as a Garden Virgin.  I suspect no matter how many years I garden, in future I will still think of myself as such.  Why? Because other than the occasional foray into ‘how to?’ on the internet I make much of it up as I go along. Okay, I admit, I do apply an ounce of common sense now and then as well.

I’ve listened and watched the odd gardening programme (oddly addictive) in my lifetime and someone always seems to be saying ‘you have to do it this way.’ I get that experts have worked out best ways to do things through experience, but I also realise that every plot, country, climate, soil, etc. all added up to make each garden unique and different, so I’m all for rules are meant to be bent, if not broken, e.g. what applies to one, does not apply to all. And~ I find half the fun is not planning, or worrying too much, and simply seeing what happens. Read On

Our First Harvest – Wine Making, Cleaning and Beer

There’s an adage in the world of wine making – making wine is 90% cleaning and 10% beer.  The Cleaning has to be done and done thoroughly, both before and after using any and all equipment. Why so fastidious? There are a lot of mildews, rots, chemical reactions and more in the world of agriculture and so, to limit the chances of spoilage, you clean. And yes, wine making is part of this agricultural world, just rather glorified beyond the likes of, say, wheat growing for cereal, possibly because you have to do rather more to get to the complete product. Read On

Our First Harvest – Pursuing grapes, bees, birds, mildew and rot

We were given the go ahead to work on our vineyard in September, right in the middle of harvest time. Talk about thrown in the deep end. But the plus side is from the get go we would know what we were dealing with, which would then highlight what the priorities would be in the vineyard in the next year, as well as what would be needed in the winery. Read On

Finding a Vineyard in Burgundy – Part 3

In conjunction with our How to find a Vineyard in France (Part 1 & Part 2), there is another story to tell in our unfolding wine making saga. This story began at a similar time, and developed along side, the discovering of SAFER and all we undertook with them.

The background… As part of living here, we are working to improve our language skills and start to fit in to the neighbourhood around us. The French are wonderful about inviting you around for drinks and nibbles of an early evening to get to know each other, and in our case a chance to practise our developing French, or sometimes their English. Either way, discussions about vineyards were generally soon to crop up and it was very heart warming how much everyone wanted to assist us.

It was at a reciprocal (very much how it is done here) drinks & nibbles  with some neighbours that we were told of a nearby Chateau that had vines that were going to the birds, literally. It was possible the owners might be willing to let us have the grapes, rather than the birds and bees, to make into wine.  Would we like an introduction? Can birds and bees fly? Continue reading

How to Find a Vineyard in France (or not) – Part I

We spent our first half a year here in France trying to understand how things worked, let alone in French.  We both needed to learn and improve our French, but at the same time we also needed to figure out how we go about finding an available vineyard to buy or rent.

We had come to France after all to make our own wine. Read on

Walnuts!

We are very lucky to have an amazing walnut tree on the property. We were able to collect a large basket of them over a couple of weeks in the autumn. The trick was then to dry them out as we didn’t have much space that could also be kept dry.  We had them resting everywhere.

And once dry, then began the process of shelling. It became my daily treat to take the basked of nuts down to the rabbits and shell them there. They of course enjoyed the odd nibble, sometimes even cheekily stealing one. Read On