Ordering organic seeds locally

Published on by Pete shield

graines del paisI've just spent a morning planning this year's vegetable garden.

This year for most of my new seeds I'll be buying from Graines delpaishttp://www.grainesdelpais.com/ 

This is a local organic seed company over in the Razes. I met them at the Couiza organic show- home of Nature et Progres. Most of their seeds are produced locally, with a few growers in the Herault and some in Le Drome.

What I love about them, apart from being organic and local, is the wide range of local specialities. Plants that are from the region surely have a higher possibility of survival? 

We will be using a combination of areas round the house.

The vegetable patch for the peas, feves, beans and toms- I have been using a system called BRF, which is basically a thick layer of wood chips chipped on the day of cutting and applied. This seems to slowly increase the depth and organic matter in the soil, protect the plants from the cold and also to seal in moisture in the summer. There is a problem with this system as the early days of decomposition suck up nitrogen from the soil. I have tried to deal with this by laying down first a thick coating of compost and then the wood chips. It seems to be working so far. But it is a four year process and time, as they say, will tell.

This system seems to work with my no dig approach to the vegetable beds, but as I say early early days.

I plan to get them in nice and early so that we will be picking them early summer before the heat and dryness really kick in.

The varieties I have chosen are:
Peas- Petite Provencal
Feves- d'agualdue- longue cosse
Haricot- vert fin Fin de Bagnol for their long fine fruit and Coco Blanc- will try drying them

I plan to get them in nice and early so that we will be picking them early summer before the heat and dryness really kick in.

The rest of the vegetable garden will be taken up with toms- and of course the asparagus patch, which should be coming into full production this year- fingers crossed.

For the tomatoes I've gone for a local variety, Labguedocienne.

A long thin variety called Roma, which always look great on a plate and also good for bottling, and for sauces.

Last but not least a cherry tomatoe called Met de Mexique, which works wonderfully in a salad of rockette and roast pine nuts with slivers of parmisan cheese and Vincent's olive oil.

Going to try and grow them all from seeds this year. I didn't have much luck last year with seeds and ended up buying plants but found they did bring some diseases with them. So this year I am going to bring the seed trays in doors and hope th heat of the house works its magic on them.

Old paraffin containers for the thirsty chaps- placed suitably near the house for watering with grey water from the sink and shower. This is a costly version as I fill them with new soil for the carrots and spuds, but the spuds last year were delicious. I used a system of adding more soil as they grew- just like those fancy potato grow bags thingies. Worked a treat, and the soil was then thrown onto Caroline's flower beds and herb garden. Note to the wise don't throw potatoes soil onto an area that you intend to use next year for tomatoes- they don't get on at all.

The plastic tubs will be getting the cucumbers, courgettes, potatoes, and carrots, and maybe some cherry toms.

The third area is what we call the kitchen garden- although it isn't anywhere near the kitchen. Its a protected area surrounded by a stone wall, the soil is poor but we are working on that- and it is close to the washing machine so handy for watering with all the water from the machine which we capture in two black plastic bins.

This is for the herbs, in addition to the herbs in old wine barrels near the front door.

I love coriander but find that it tends to go to seed very quickly in summer. The Vietnamese guy in Lezignan market gave me a good hint, to grow it over the winter, and this works a treat. I have two barrels of it near the front door and now eat it all winter, it makes a lovely green and fresh addition to winter soups- carrot and coriander being my favourite. What is more it survives intense frosts and being buried under snow.

We have a lovely bay tree in the kitchen garden which is wonderful for stews.

Mint, parsley, rosemary, thyme, lavender all grow around the kitchen garden, the oregano may have survived- not sure yet.

My lovely friend's Ken and Jon bought us a French tarragon plant last year which was superb- I had mistakenly planted Russian tarragon which while looking the part had no flavour at all. It has died back over winter but I am hoping that it will come back as strong as ever in the Spring. Chicken just doesn't taste the same without a tarragon cream sauce. Mind you a New Year's resolution was to eat a lot less meat, and then to try and eat organic meat, so we will see. Though Caroline has been talking about getting chickens for their eggs after she had tummy upsets from eating non-organic eggs twice over the winter. Maybe I'll get to eat some of them- oh how I remember sitting in front of the telly as a kid with a blanket over our legs as we plucked chickens. Not one of my favourite childhood memories I have to admit. Think its more likely that we will stick to their eggs.

We have chives everywhere, don't know where they come from or how they survive but just happy they do.

Caroline wants more verbena and mint for her tea so will be planting up a couple of barrels of them for near the front door so they are easy to water- for the mint, and easy to pick for her morning cuppa.

I have twenty strawberries under plastic at the moment and working out the best time to bring them out, last years crop was minimal so somewhere near to the house, in much bigger pots and regular watering- but where oh where I am not sure.

Last but not least I will be putting in salad leaves around the garden. I try and use Charles Dowding (He of the No Dig Organic Gardening book) approach of picking their leaves rather than the whole lettuce to give a colourful mixed salad.

So that's it. I thought I had a plan that was focussing in a minimal crop span, but now that I have written everything down it looks more wide ranging than I originally thought.

Fingers crossed for a good season.

Published on Plants and Seeds

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