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How does your garden grow

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..........with sunflowers all in a row

During the day Saffron and I like to spend as much time outdoors as possible, it's good for our growing girl and one of the reasons we moved to France.

We are very lucky to have a good sized garden with space for fun and growing veggies as well as housing our businesses, all a few meters away from our back door.

This year we have spent more time on our veg patch, we really want to grow as much of our own produce as possible, self sufficiency was high on our agenda when we originally moved here and in time we will grow more and more of our own fruit and veggies.

Hubby has dug one of the four planned vegetable beds, which now house some radishes, leeks, spring onions and tomatoes. The tomatoes had a bad start, I first bought some tomato plants from the market in Jarnages back in April and just a few weeks after we planted them we had a cold snap which completely destroyed our plants. So once the weather improved again we bought three different varieties from our local Jardiland, and these have now started to produce some fruit. With a little TLC we will soon have our very own "tomates", one of Saffron's favourites.

Another casualty of the cold snap was my nasturtiums, I grow these for our pet lizards and had quite a few seedlings before the surprise snap, unfortunately many did not survive so I planted more seeds and also bought a good specimen from the garden centre. Our Lizards are now enjoying fresh nasturtium flowers on a daily basis.

The third and final casualty of the icy weather in April were our sunflowers. Saffron's favourite TV show is Topsy & Tim (we watch on YouTube regularly) and the twins had planted sunflowers seeds, so I bought some seeds from the supermarket one day and Saffron and I enjoyed planting the seeds in old yogurt pots and eagerly awaited the little sprouts.

Saffron has been diligently caring for her sunflowers since the seeds sprouted. They were transplanted to various locations in the garden and we did lose a few to frost but luckily we planted loads of seeds and now the remaining plants are little taller than Saffron and flowering; much to her enjoyment. The sunflowers however are baffling us, we thought they would only have one flower head but we seem to have grown a variety that boasts many flowers. Hurrah more sunflower seeds for us!

My daughter also loves our herb garden, we have lavender, mint, basil, rosemary and now some coriander. Coriander was must have for my hubby as it's quite rare in the supermarkets around here and it's essential for our favourite dish from home, curry! We also have some chilli plants which are flowering - again a much missed ingredient from home - the chillies in the supermarket here just don't cut it when it comes to he heat factor for my hubby.

Our lucky find recently was some drastically reduced price olive trees at the Leclerc Brico in Gueret. The final price was 11 euros each for huge trees which only just fitted into the car and are now growing well in the border between the veg garden and the leisure space. Olive being another favourite of Saffron's (yes..... she has weird taste in food for a two year old, she adores hummus, olive and bread sticks)

On the fruit front we already had three red currant bushes - which I was unaware of until my aunt visited last summer. When I showed them to her, she bravely plucked a berry from the bush, ate it and knowingly announced that "these are red currants", without any hesitation. Last week I picked the fruits from just one bush and spent three hours de-stalking 3.5kg of small berries before re-arranging the freezer to house the little summery jewels, which I will find a use for later. The remaining two bushes will have to be left for the wildlife as I just don't have the freezer space at the moment to store them.

To add to our redcurrants we have strawberries - again a favourite of the little cherub. Six plants housed in a bag of compost on top of a rough table constructed to avoid pests (the only trouble is now that my daughter knows where strawberries come from it's hard to keep her from picking them) and rhubarb (which lives in our herb garden, as it isn't technically a fruit).

The weather has been a trial for our garden; frosts, snow and ice in April, a very hot and dry May and start to June, then just as we thought we would have water restrictions placed upon us the rain has returned sometimes with a vengeance in the form of thunderstorms and hail.

Our daughter loves to help water the plants of an evening and if she can, sneak a few strawberries straight from the plants! Life doesn't get much better than that in my view.