Spriiiing with extra i’s

Spriiiing with extra i’s

Each spring here in France surprises me. It’s a long story. It goes on, and on and on some more! There are SEVERAL MONTHS of spriiiing (one i isn’t enough really)!!! As you can see on the head picture, it’s a beautiful spectacle playing out all around.

 

Depending on your own provenance this might seem just normal, but since I’m born and raised in northern Sweden, about 120 km south of the arctic circle, spring is for me supposed to be a short affaire of something like a week or two. Up there, spring doesn’t get a whole set to play. Firstly because winter plays the main act and always draws over a bit, and secondly  because summer impatiently puts across that she need not be too late if she is supposed to have time to play her piece before autumn. Suitably the word “spring” translated in Swedish means “run”. Yes indeed, spring up there runs a race with time!

Anyway, what I really wanted to share today are some pictures showing what spring is bringing us at the moment around here.

P1040215The rhubarb that has struggled a bit to get nicely implanted has come along strongly this spring. Look at this giant! I will have plenty of shopped rhubarb leaves to spread around my kale plants to hold of cabbage worm later on!

 

Above you can see three perennials. The first to the left is the kiwaï that is looking perky and thriving in company of  some strawberry at its feet. I don’t know how soon one can hope for it to carry fruit. This will only be it’s second summer at our place, and we bought it as a young plant of one year.

The second picture is of an Echinacea. I am coming to an end of the stock of dried flowers from last year and I’m eager to see it in bloom again soon. It’s such a wonderful plant! Beautiful, full of health benefits and low maintenance. It’s mostly known for the use if it’s root, that can help prevent colds, but the flowers can also be used in the same purpose, even though they are a little less powerful. It also has a lovely flavor!

The third picture is of our chocolate mint that starts to show its nose above the mulch. We moved it to a new spot this spring and would need to find some more space for it to spread since it has a good demand in infusion.

 

Three different stages of evolution of raspberry. The first circle shows our “favourites”. They give big and juicy fruit during a long period. We liked them so much that last autumn we tripled the length of what was already planted, and in the middle circle you can see the cuttings coming along (with a double row of pansies planted in front). The third circle is raspberries that doesn’t seem to give much fruit, but being planted on a mound facing south, with some big trees that cover from cool evening air, they give lots of leaves early in the season, and that’s appreciated too!

 

Above some  other projects coming along; first picture is a new massive (not finished) decorated with some old iron details that a nice friend brought us recently. I have been looking for bringing in some metal here and there so I was happy to play garden designer and make this arrangement that reminds a bit of a snake (or the Loch Ness Monster maybe) at the border…

Second picture to the right is from the “fruit hedge” or future “mini-forest-eco-system”. The Cassis are beautiful and in flower, all the autumn and spring planted trees are coming along well and I’m little by little planting different perennials and ground cover at the feet of the trees. So far it’s strawberry, yarrow, monarda, pansies, lungwort, tansy, wild garlic, chives, absinth and rhubarbe. The tricky thing is that the trees don’t give shadow and shelter yet, so the ground climate will change quite a bit with time.

The third picture to the right is from the flower lines. They are almost prepared for planting (right side). I didn’t have enough mulch last autumn to make a nice winter layer and prevent weeds, so they have been cleared all recently and are now waiting to be fully covered by a new layer of hay. The Sage to the left has grown well since last year and will probably give a nice harvest. They will soon get the company of some lavender and Echinacea where there’s room.

 

Seedlings are also coming along this time of the year of course. Look at these babies waiting to get transplanted. They are still going to be kept a while in what I call “the hot frames” though. Last morning there was frost despite a nice warm influence that has brought us some 25 degrees Celsius during the week. Tomatoes, flowers and different type of cabbage on these two pictures.

BUT! Don’t underestimate what is shown on the picture underneath! Wild flowers and plants of all kind are lovely and filled with vibrant energy this time of year. One can just feel nourished by the delight of looking at this beautiful composition! Before the garden is awake you shouldn’t miss out on the opportunity to serve yourself in the wild. I have said it before and will say it again – wild plants grow where the environment and conditions are exactly right for them, developing a maximum of specific nutriments, while cultivated plants have to settle for what we offer them. Food is medicine!

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Giants of nature

Since spring makes us practice patience this year, we took the opportunity to go south for a bit, to the area of ” La Drôme”, the passed weekend. Even down there they hadn’t come much longer in terms of flowering and greens. We made a lovely forest walk though and came across these magnificent giants leading up to the actual wild woods.

CèdreIf I’m not mistaken these are Atlas cedars (the word Atlas meaning “the Carrier” in greek). It’s hard to make justice on a photo to such big trees, but several of the trunks must have measured over a meter wide, and as you can see the branches was inviting as natural hammocks. It’s just incredible to creep up on the branches of such giants, opening up to the strength and wisdom of nature.

I love trees. Thinking about how they are silent witnesses to generations passing by, scenting their seeming everlasting patience throughout storm, sunshine and fog, and embracing their strong life force and compassion fills me with respect and reverence.  Yes, I think trees, like other plants, shows compassion. We are just about to start understanding a small bit of the exchange trees actually have between each other. They are not all about competition like we have thought here in the west since a long time  now. No, they actually share lots of information and communication which benefits to all. Think about it, how often will you see one lonely tree in the middle of a field in a true natural area?

Some might know that a single isolated tree can have more difficulty to thrive than in a group of trees growing together, but many think that you have to plant them all at the same time for it to work. I recently learned that this is not necessary and that if you wish to implant a young tree next to an older one, the only thing you need to do to facilitate the implantation is to prune the older tree before preparing for the new one. Since the old tree has established a certain amount of roots according to the need of its foliage, cutting away a part of the mass above ground will cause a correlative part of roots to die. This is pure adaption to the new needs of the plant. However, the situation will come in profit to the new tree since the dead roots will start to decompose, leaving free space to the roots that the new tree will develop, and also slowly releasing the nutriments from the old roots and leaving a more airy structure to the soil.

Of course less disease, more stable humidity, mutual protection from the elements and variated foliage are other pleasant advantages (both for the trees and us humans) if one chooses to plant trees or bushes together.

“Trees are poems that earth writes upon the sky” – Khalil Gibran

Back in action

Back in action

There has been a fall, a winter, and even a change of hour for summer time since last. The project of Neorigins has celebrated its’ first birthday (in march), we have started to sell our dried plants in a couple of new places, and now we are finally ready to take on the blog again. Welcome to follow us more regularly from now on!

This year the winter don’t seem to be entirely willing to let go. Here in the mountains of Auvergne it still makes me put on my long johns every morning, and not once I have even taken them of by midday yet. Furthermore it hailed this morning!

I think it’s great that we have had a real winter though. The cold cleans what needs to be frozen away in the ground, the frost exploses those soaked lumps of clay that we struggle to eliminate, and the snow has brought some well needed humidity as well.

That being said, the spring is more than welcome by now! The fact is that in matters of the vegetation, we are a whole month late compared to last year (the spring of 2017 being unusually warm on an early stage though). According to my dated notes from the wild-picking, I had both raspberry leaves and stinging nettle by this time last year, while these past two weeks I have been struggling even to find dandelion leaves !

Things start to slowly come around now though and I have good hope for all the seedlings hiding away in the greenhouses. I have waited and been starting of late this year, but since our greenhouses aren’t heated in any way, I prefer not to be too early. I still managed to sow cauliflower (in February) that waited indoors for too long, and ended up as tall, thin and pale. I finally restarted a new round yesterday.

We have also installed a whole new greenhouse which will be used as a nursery for replanting seedlings directly in the earth before final transplantation, and started the project of building a herb dryer. It will be a bussy spring!

Well, that was a small update to what’s going on around here. We’ll get more into details soon! Have a nice week everyone!

PS. For those in proximity of Ambert (63600), we will give a tasting of some of our infusions at the store “LE BIO SENS”, situated at 25 Rue de la Filètererie, tomorrow the 10 april, 15.00-18.00. Welcome!