Big scythe and small tractor


This is where it starts. The scythe I bought months ago gets a taste of the whetstone and goes to work for the first time in decades. I was amazed at how efficient it was – sweeping aside the sheeves of grass into a heap in a way that a strimmer could not manage. Rythmic and moorish exercise – not noisy and back-acheing mayhem.


First things first : the grass and weeds have to go somewhere – so I’ve put together three bins from pallets I’d scavenged over the winter from building sites. With all the rain there’s several heaps that won’t all fit in. When I fetch in the horse manure next week I’ll mix it all up together, bin what I can and cover the rest with a tarp. It should all be ready come autumn, when a month of double-digging will see it all in the ground.


This is Sunday May 10, and most of the scything is done. I need to clear the back strip and straighten up the drive-way, but the dead trees are a nuisance – by law all bonfires are banned from April through to October.

Charles, our ‘petit vigneron’ and best French friend, spontaneously offered to help with the clearance.


The narrow little vine-tractor is handy in confined spaces; here he’s giving the ground a passe or two with the rotavator, to a depth of 5 centimetres. He has to change the kit on the back next week to do some harrowing in his vines – and will return to break up the next 20 centimetres.

Charles rotovating

As Raphael remarks on his blog Un Potager en Languedoc, tout stagne during this wet and cold spring. Early plantings of seedlings remain ‘stagnant’ in the cool soil – so we’re hopeful our late start won’t matter.

end of rotovating

The area now looks huge, and daunting – but with the three of us: me Mary and Sue, and Charles! – and a not too-ambitious first year plan, it should come good.

With two gardens to manage, plus our summer ArtHoliday courses, there won’t be the time to sit and blog. But I feel more confident now that we might be able to feed ourselves – whatever else happens in the world.

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