What do we want to add to the garden this year?

After we audited what we already had in the garden and discussed what we want to achieve, we could now come up with a list of herbs, fruits, and vegetables we want to add to the garden this year.

A quick reminder of what we wanted to achieve:

  • Lower food costs
  • Reduce food miles
  • Support local wildlife
  • Become more self-sufficient

So now we have the skeleton of a plan and I have been binge-watching self-sufficient me on youtube for lots of hints, tips, and advice.


I plan to increase my strawberry plant stock, by either propagating the runners produced this summer and/or dividing the crowns next spring.

Vegetables (and fruitables)

This year we have planted:

  • Potatoes
  • Pumpkins
  • Sweet Potatoes
  • Chili
  • Tomatoes
  • Cucumber


Olives are a great choice for our garden because they love the climate here, it’s nice and hot in the summer and if we don’t get much rain during the summer months they won’t be badly affected. Plus we all love olives in salads, wraps, on pizzas, and in pasta dishes.

Olives in flower

I plan to propagate some Olives using cuttings from our existing healthy plant using softwood cuttings this summer so I have a chance to get them going before winter. The cuttings can then overwinter in my workshop to protect them.

The olives we grow will have a double use as I plan to make a border around the garden and these will help with that project as well as providing food for us to eat.


As mentioned in my previous blog, we had some potatoes from the supermarket that had been in the pantry a bit too long and these started to sprout. So we planted them in the garden and they have already produced leaves, so we are hopeful for a small crop of spuds later this year. It’s more of an experiment than a serious crop just to see what we can do with potatoes and then next we can decide if we want to go serious with spuds or not.

homegrown potatoes
A row of potato plants


We love tomatoes and have had great success with our last specimens. So this year I bought two plants from Erwin for just 1,20€ each (who is a local grower) we have one traditional round fruit and one cherry tomato plant. Both are doing great and have already got flowers.

Tomato plant in flower


It has taken me weeks to track down a cucumber plant! Erwin, my usual supplier did not have any left when I purchased my tomatoes and chili from him, and neither did the three other plant sellers at Jarnages market. I also checked out the plant seller at Chenerailles while I was working on the Foire aux Laines and she didn’t have left either. It seems that as cucumbers have become so expensive in the supermarkets (sometimes 1,50€ each) that everyone around here is growing their own this year.

But finally last weekend Erwin came up trumps again and had some new stock, again 1,20€ for a plant. One plant will be sufficient for us for the summer, as last year we had two plants and ended up giving away the fruits to friends as we had too many to eat.

Cucumbers do take some watering, as do the tomatoes but we have a rainwater recovery system so we can manage this for a while if we don’t get much rain, and if the dry spells persist we start saving water from the house too. (I will cover more about this in a separate future post)

Small cucumber plant
My young cucumber plant


For us, pumpkins are a tradition at Halloween. Our children love to design the Halloween lantern and we carve it for them. We use the inners for pumpkin fritters, pumpkin pie, and even some soup. Last year we decided to save the seeds when we scooped out the flesh for our lanterns. We washed and dried the seeds before saving them in a tin.

I have planted some seeds and so far we have four plants ready to be planted-out, but I need to finish digging the patch where they will live. This will be done this week as they really need a permanent home so they can spread out and hopefully give us some delicious pumpkins later this year.

1 of 4 young pumpkin plants

Sweet Potato

This is another experiment. My husband watched some youtube videos on how to propagate sweet potatoes from a shop-bought tuber. So we now have two promising-looking experiments. The tubers have produced sprouts which have leaves and we will soon need to give them a permanent home.

sweet potato shoots
Sweet potato sprouting leaves


We love spicey food (well, us adults anyway!), and finding really spicey varieties in the supermarket is hard as the French don’t really go for the really hot chilies. Luckily Erwin was around to provide the plant I needed. I explained to him I need a really hot, spicy chili plant and he offered me the one he thought best for my needs with a warning not to touch the seeds and to wear gloves when I’m preparing the chilis so I am really excited to see how spicy it will be. Erwin did also advise me that this particular variety doesn’t do so well outdoors, so it is currently living in the covered area near our cellar entrance, as it gets lots of light, and warmth and can be checked on daily.




Wow, ginger is expensive 6,99€/kg (even in Lidl) so, we have taken a ginger root or rhizome, and soaked it in plain water to remove any anti-sprouting coating applied, and then planted it in a container. Ginger loves hot humid conditions but we think it will be successful in our summer garden. We can then harvest it later this year and store it for future use and maybe even save some for planting again next year. We also hope the ginger plant will help to keep pests away from the other crops.


We usually buy a head of garlic from the potato fete in Jarnages in September specifically for planting but this year we just split the cloves from a supermarket garlic bulb and planted those instead and hey presto we have some nice garlic plants growing now. They will be ready at the end of the summer and are looking great. (Honestly,… they are supposed to look like this, as they will soon be ready to harvest.)


Herbs we want to plant in the future

As I mentioned above I want to create a border around the garden, and I want the plants/shrubs to have a dual purpose, so to produce something we can use as well as look after nature in the garden too.

Specifically I want perennial shrubs which suit our climate and can cope with our hot dry summers, while also being useful in the kitchen.

I am planning to propagate more of our Rosemary and Lavender from cuttings this summer, I will keep them in the workshop over winter, which is going to start looking more like a small nursery than a creative workshop at this rate, but it will encourage me to spend more time in the workshop even during the colder months so I can monitor the cuttings and care for them.

I also want to obtain the following shrubs:

  • Sage
  • Oregano
  • Thyme.

What are the next things we should consider?

The next part of the plan is to think about water saving and how we are going to manage water shortages so we can keep our fruits and veggies alive, and also what we need for storing and preserving our harvests, but I’ll cover more about that in the next part of this series of posts and I hope you will join me for that soon. Remember to sign up for the newsletter or follow me on social media so you don’t miss out on a single post about our new journey into self-sufficiency.

à bientôt