Spring is just around the corner

Picture 036Spring this year officially starts on the 20th March when the vernal equinox occurs- some one however seems to have forgotten to tell our plants that. Yesterday I decided to prune back the dead stems on the tarragon only to find that pushing up form beneath them the new shoots had already started to push through- the mints, well the spear mint and pepper mint, Moroccan and long leafed mints are also starting to shoot.

Down in the poly tunnel the parsley, coriander, hairy sage and common sages are sprouting away.Caroline sowed 190 pots on Wednesday- Basil,  Marigolds, Polyvit Chives, Borage, Camomile, Valerian, and Lin de Narbonne.

The garden is also seeing signs of life, the snow drops are out, the sempervivum tectorum is starting to flower, the winter jasmine is in full bloom and so is the tercrium (See picture).

But we have had half a metre of snow in May, it usually snows the week after the ski stations close,so keeping our fingers crossed.


Snow on Canagou- Winter’s here



Woke this morning to a heavy dew, a frost on the field and a white cap on Canagou- Winter is definitely on it’s way. Here’s hoping for a good short and sharp one- not the non seasons we have had this year, no real Winter no Spring, a pathetic summer, followed by an Indian Summer. With no frosts the snails and slugs have had a field day, mosquitoes in February, and clouds of fruit flies everywhere. When we are in the heart of a good winter, trapped in by snow, with the pipes frozen and the fire barely able to cope with the wind it is sometimes hard to remember that Winter is an important and necessary part of the growing year. Frost kills diseases and limits pest, while short days means that annual herbs that in summer rush to flower in Summer have the space to grow to their full glory- Coriander and Parsley produce big bushes of delicious leaves. So it is goodbye to tomato, mozzarella, and basil salads, hello to chickpea tagines with fresh coriander garnish, curries, and parsely omelettes. Already had our first Tartiflette last week, and eat a lovely Beef Bourguignon at Mike and Paule’s yesterday- with all the physical work we do it is great to have absolutely no feelings of guilt as huge amounts of calories, and cholesterol get shovelled down. Roll on Winter- we are ready for you.


Foire elevage

ESPEZEL – La foire s’étend sur tout le village d’Espezel.

37ème Foire départementale de l’élevage et de la ruralité, concours régional d’animaux, marché gourmand, marché forain, fête foraine, vide grenier, animations diverses, repas du terroir.

Ovins, bovins et chevaux lourds; volailles et porcins; sécurité routière MSA, matériel agricole et véhicules, sabotière à vapeur, énergies renouvelables, filière bois énergie, exposition de voitures anciennes, sculptures à la tronçonneuse, associations du Pays de Sault, village des producteurs de l’Aude marque Pays Cathare.

Animations : manipulation bétail, chien de berger avec les brebis, traction animale…

Foire traditionnelle, forains, vide grenier…

Corbieres gardening – with pick axe

You know when you are in the Corbieres when planting a simple Rosemary involved a pick axe, a wreaking bar and rock the size of foot balls. Still progress is moving along its merry way with the new rock garden for the garrigue mother plants- winter savory, thymes of various types, sage, with a few sedums thrown in for ground cover. Going to see if the Verbena will survive a winter out doors, so planted the first mother plant in one of the half barrels. Now got to find some good spots for the two new mints, Moroccan and Longifolia. Always on the look out for an organic pineapple mint and English mint.

Though we are having a mini heat wave for the moment the light is changing fast, low level sun, rich autumn colours and weeds growing at super speeds- so the throttle of the strimmer got repaired today- now held together with a large screw and electric wiring- very posh, also swept the chimney- looking forward to fire, though not a winter like 2011- no minus 15 for 10 days please.

Caroline conducted an experiment with pansy seeds, she looked up the experts advice on how best to germinate them, one said in a poly tunnel in full sun, the other said in a warm dark space- result, the ones in the poly tunnel took time and about 50% germinated, the ones under the bed all germinated but are lanky and weak, if we had caught them when they had just sprouted thinks may have been better . Lesson, never listen to an expert they know their own micro-climate and what works there but bugger all about where you live, and look under the bed occasionally.

Finally replanted the trumpet vine beneath the terrace, the idea is to grow it over the structure that will cover the terrace to provide shade during summer- well if it survives the replanting process, and of course it would help if I had built the structure for it to climb over.



Morgane et Timothée, récemment installés dans la maison familiale à Corneilla de conflent (66) pour construire un projet de « transition » ( décroissance, autonomie alimentaire, et rapports humains solidaires).

Attirés par la permaculture et l ‘idée d’un lieu en polyculture ( légumes, fruitiers, poules, chèvres, âne(s), ruche, vigne/houblon,et herbes aromatiques et médicinales) et étant débutants dans tout cela ( prof des écoles et statisticien au départ) nous recherchons :

– des lieux (dans les PO de préférence) où cela est déjà, en partie du moins, mis en place pour découvrir et vous filer un coup de main en échange de 2/3 conseils.
– Des gens prêts à nous donner un peu de leur temps et de leur savoir pour faire avancer notre projet plus sereinement et plus efficacement. En échange, nous pouvons vous loger, vous nourrir, garder vos enfants ou tout autre chose que nous conviendrons ensemble !
– Conscients de la difficulté de gérer tout cela à deux et avons envie de vivre « collectif », nous sommes ouverts, pour ne pas dire à la recherche de plusieurs « familles » afin de créer un projet collectif, où les moments intimes et familiaux seront préservés mais où la vie sera communautaire ( partage d’outils, de lieux, d’appareils ménagers, de charge, de motivation…)

Septembre 2014 :
– Projet de poulailler
– Projet d’enclos pour deux chèvres.
– Projet d’achat d’âne(s).
– projet d’association de lien social et d’éducation populaire.
– Projet de formation en permaculture sur le site.
– Potager en route (tomates, pomme de terre, salades, courgettes…)

Pour plus de renseignements, n’hésitez pas à nous contacter :

Morgane : 0611127723

Timothée : 0677170794

1° Café nature : Georges Olioso

Ce vendredi 10 octobre au Café des Possibles à partir de 19h30 :

Georges Olioso nous dévoilera tous les mystères de nos oiseaux et serpents pour le lancement des Cafés nature.

Cet ornithologue renommé  et pédagogue est membre de la LPO.


Notez dans votre agendas vos rendez-vous naturalistes, tous les deuxièmes vendredis du mois :
affiche café nature
​ Le programme d’animation du Café des Possibles se met en place progressivement, et les prochains Cafés thématiques vous seront proposés très bientôt.​

Organic Mushrooms?

Make a Living from Growing Mushrooms

Interseting article in Permaculture


Definitely worth a look at, does anyone know what book is the definitive guide to mushroom growing?


More interesting mushroom growing ideas and guides



Orgasyl – Frayssinet Nutrition

Orgasyl from Frayssinet Nutrition is an organic plantation soil specifically designed for cuttings. Hormone rooting powder is forbidden in organic agriculture for a number of reasons, primarily it is made up of synthetic auxins, natural auxins are what plants produce to grow roots, it also often contains a fungicide to prevent ‘damping off’.. Some manufacturers of hormone rooting powder advise that it shouldn’t be used on vegetable plants- so even if you are not organic my advice is to avoid using it.

There are a number of natural solutions can be used instead of hormone rooting powder, see Three Organic Alternatives to Hormone Rooting Powder.

We have had great results using Orgasyl, through  it can be a bit woody which means it is better in larger pots rather than seedling trays. The plants once they had started rooting like to be replanted into individual pots full of a rich plantation soil.

The other advantage we have found with Orgasyl is that is has a high water retention value, very helpful with our sun and winds.

Orgasyl is produced by the French company Frayssinet Nutrion I buy it from our local agricultural suppliers in Tuchan, it is half the price buying it from a professionel supplier than going anywhere near a garden centre- 15 euros approx for a 70l bag as opposed to 30 odd euros from the likes of GammVert.

Here is an interesting guide to the ingredients of potting mixes from off all people Cannabase – a Cannabis growers database!  http://www.cannabase.com/cl/bcga/soil/potmix.html





Salvia Elegans – Pineapple Sage

Salvia Elegans

Salvia Elegans

Salvia Elegans, better known as Pineapple sage, is a simple plant to propagate. What is more it has a beautiful red late flower that here gives a great dash of red in the garden through late September and October.

Salvia Elegans primary usage is in  teas and cocktails, it also tastes great sprinkled on top of a fruit salad- and has a lot lower carbon footprint that a real pineapple.

Salvia Elegans side shoots

Salvia Elegans side shoots

Take a good look at the main stems, all along the stem should be a series of side shoots popping up from each side of the nodes. Very gently snap off the shoot as close to the node as possible. If you are pretty thorough this will leave the stem quite leggy. To ensure a strong plant next spring it is a good idea after flowering to cut the main stem back to 10cm above the ground. This will give you an abundance of new stems next year and a much stronger, attractive bush of a plant.

Salvia Elegans cutting

Salvia Elegans cutting

Next prune down  the cuttings, the less leaves the cutting has to support the more chance of success. Leave the top few leaves but pinch our any side leaves. If there is a flower bud pinch that out too. If you leave the flower bud on then the shoot will put all it’s remaining energy into the flower and not into growing new roots.


Salvia Elegans shoots

Salvia Elegans shoots

Put 10 or so shoots into a large pot full of a high quality planting soil. like Orgasyl. Now the most important thing is the soil must never dry out, keep it humid but not soaking to avoid rot. After two weeks start looking under the pot for roots. When you see roots coming out of the bottom soak the soil, wait for a few minutes and then turn the pot out. Carefully sperate out the plants and re-pot into large plantation pots. Within three weeks the plants are ready to plant out. I find planting out in early Spring gives best results. These plants are not Garrigue plants and a drop by drop watering system is a good idea in dry climates.

Tornados and floods- great news

One small tornado,a bit of torrential rain and the mobile tower is down and the land line out- thank goodness for internet by Satellite and electricity by solar panels- and the plumber may start work tomorrow so soon no more leaks, hot water and the start of the irrigation system- things on the up.

Apparently we have had the average annual rainfall this year, the problem it has fallen in intense short periods so it runs off rather than works it’s slow way down to the water table. So the heavy but persistent rain of the last 28 hours has been very welcome. Not least because we don’t have to water tonight.

We have also found a new supplier of pots, CEP Agriculture – they have some great square pots which will make watering easier, plus we have be planting in smaller seed pots and then re-pottting, and sometime a second re-potting. With these pots we should be able to plant straight into large pots thus cutting down the work involved in each plants.

Combine that with putting up a second polytunnel and putting in a drip by drip watering system and we are well on our way to laying a firm base for Montrouch Organic.

Mark Ashton

Mark Ashton

Chain sawing tomorrow then off to see Pride about Lesbian and Gay Support the Miners at the Castillet in Perpignan lthe central character is my old comrade Mark Ashton. Will be a bit of an emotional roller coaster- taking tissues.