Growing Trees for Free

While he was helping to dig out the well-rotted mixture in one of my compost bins, my grandson spotted dozens of acorns on the ground. My evergreen oak trees, Quercus ilex, that grow wild here in my hillside garden had shed their fruit weeks earlier. Matthew soon filled his pockets to take acorns home to…

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Goose Egg Cake

Lucas arrived to prune our olive trees and gave me a springtime present: six brown-shelled eggs from his hens. In his other hand, he held a large white egg, the first of the year from his only goose.  ‘Ideal for a cake,’ he said and disappeared into the garden. I weighed the large white egg…

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Marking the Edge

Paved paths and neatly-mown lawns provide ready-made and attractive edges to beds and borders in a herb garden. But in the Saint Montan Jardin du Curé we use gravel on the paths – it’s local, inexpensive, and part of the landscape. So the junction between cultivated ground and consolidated earth wanders somewhat each year depending…

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Buying Herbs in Pots

By 8 a.m, there’s already a queue at the plant stall in my local street market. Boxes of seedling lettuces and pencil-slim leeks, hand-high plants of aubergines and sweet peppers are disappearing fast while pots of young tomatoes, cucumbers and artichokes are carried away by keen gardeners to be planted out in potagers and vegetable…

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Writing a Recipe

Soon after my first book was published, the editor of my local Devon newspaper invited me to write a weekly food column. “But with no recipes,” was his only condition. So I sent in half a dozen pieces and he rang to say “Carry on, we enjoy reading them.” But what about the one that…

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Springtime Shoots

Only rarely do I arrive in Saint Montan in time to find the almond tree in the herb garden still in bloom with primroses and wild violets flowering at is foot. Normally, almond trees in Saint Montan flower in January, each porcelain white blossom turning to palest pink after a few days with a centre…

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Adapting a Cake Recipe

A reader asks how she could bake one of my cake recipes in a different size tin from that I’d specified. I replied by explaining how to work out the capacity of a round, square or oblong cake tin mathematically so that the mixture would still turn out well. But then I realised that there…

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