A French Vegetable Garden in Languedoc

A French Vegetable Garden in Languedoc

I have always been a bit jealous of my brother in law as despite not being the worlds best linguist he manages to communicate no matter what country he finds himself in through the universal language of Sport. He has a seemingly endless knowledge of global sporting statistics and is capable of having unimpeded conversations with taxi drivers or staff and cuctomers of bars using only players names and holding up fingers to indicate the score. No language is required with both participants in the conversation behaving like long lost friends after about 5 minutes, it really is quite incredible to watch.

Unfortunately the 'sport' area of my brain is missing with any attempt at communicating in this genre resulting in a confused and slightly frightened look. This applies in any language including my own.

Anyway, I have just returned from a great holiday in Southern France (near Beziers) and have come back with even more of a spring in my step than usual as I have discovered as well as English and a few words of French I also speak vegetable. See below my new friend Marcel.

vegetable garden France

I met Marcel (he's the one with the short hair) while cycling along the Canal Du Midi and came across his pretty little allotment. I can't be completely sure if we were both talking about the same thing but I spent a very pleasant hour with him discussing (I think) subjects from beneficial insects in the garden to making your own mosaic table. It was great to discover common ground (literally) as we poked about in his soil and realised we shared many of the same issues in our efforts to grow a little food for the table. My French is limited to explaining I'm Irish, can't speak French and asking for up to 10 glasses of beer so it was a pleasant surprise to find we understood each other reasonably well.

Apricot trees

I was interested to see Marcel wasn't growing any brassicas as I presume it is too hot and dry; it was touching 40 degrees when I spoke to him (in his wellies!). Still, what he missed out on in cabbages and Brussels sprouts he made up for in fruit with apricot, cherry and fig trees as the back of the garden and rows of juicy melons ripening in the sun. When I turned to leave after being shown some pictures of a Buddhist Temple on his phone (I have no idea why) Marcel held up his hand and scurried off to the corner of the garden. I got quite excited and imagined a little brown paper bag filled with his juicy apricots so I struggled a little with a smile when he returned with a single onion (oignon). Anyway, Vive La France!

As I've been away for the last 2 weeks my vegetable garden has got a bit overgrown so now is the time for some heavy duty clearing. I include a list of the types of products I will be using below including links to our fantastic shop.

gardening, gloves

Heavy Duty Work Gloves These are great work gloves with extra thick fabric, fleece lining and rubber palms which give an excellent grip and protect very well from thorns and other sharp objects. These gloves are for the toughest of jobs and give great confidence when pulling brambles and collecting piles of thorny material.

You might think the colour is a bit garish but it's very handy for locating your gloves if you've left them somewhere in the garden.

gardening gloves, latex, thornproof

Tuff Grip Gloves These are a lighter version of the Heavy Duty Tuff Grip for general garden work.

The heavy duty version can get a bit hot due to their thickness so the this pair are more comfortable in warm weather. Includes a breathable fabric on the back of the hand and latex palm grip. These are an excellent all round work glove which are light and comfortable to wear yet tough enough for most jobs.

gardeners knee pads

Soft Cushioned Knee Pads A lighter version of the heavy duty pad but still a hard wearing design, again more comfortable in warm weather. I have a pair of these and have never found them lacking, also very quick and easy top put on with velcro strap webbing. Very comfortable pads.

Heavy Duty Cushioned Knee Pads I find you get a whole lot more done if your are comfortable, especially when you are working in a kneeling position. Our cushioned pads feature a fabric cushioned back and hard plastic knee protectors to make a very comfortable, hard wearing product.

garden loppers, secateurs, pruners

Geared Bypass Loppers I haven't used these yet myself but Niall has a set and tells me they are very good. They cut through thick branches up to 45mm with very little effort due to their geared action and titanium coated blades to resist rust. A traditional looking loppers with oak handles using modern technology.

Bahco Garden Loppers The Bahco Loppers is a value cutting tool at only £14.95. I have used this one for a number of years and find it excellent. The handles are light yet strong making easy to use when reaching for long periods and the blades cut an impressive 30mm diameter.

billhook, slashook, slash hook, slasher

Billhook Clearing Tool Large billhook traditional grass slasher used for clearing wild areas, saplings, branches, hedges and for stripping branches of side shoots. Great for clearing tough, overgrown areas.

Taifun Manure Fork Good for applying manure but also invaluable for picking up piles of cut weeds or grass. Especially good for piles of brambles and other difficult to handle garden debris.

shovel, clearing spade, loader shovel

Square Blade Loader Shovel Very handy for clearing up especially on hard surfaces like patios, driveways and concrete yards. The wide mouth and deep pan makes sweeping up and transporting waste much easier than a traditional pointed shovel.

Joseph Bentley Leaf Rake If you need to rake debris from grass areas or off gravel a leaf rake is much easier than a traditional solid steel rake as the tines don't get stuck in the grass. These guys are far more useful than you might think.

Chillington, fork hoe, weeding tool

Canterbury Fork Hoe Still my favourite tool. The Canterbury Fork Hoe has so many uses including digging, clearing and weeding. It is perfect for removing deep root weeds and lifting clumps of grass an weeds from gravel verges. Get one, they are a fantastic tool!

Traditional Hand Weeder Like a miniature Canterbury Fork the hand weeder is another tool I use regularly. Very handy for light weeding around delicate plants when you prefer to get the root out as well as removing the foliage, great in the tunnel where space is tight.