April is the month when things in the garden really begin to grow. In February and March there seemed to be plenty of time: in April as the ground warms up, the garden comes along in a rush. So it is time to catch up with your jobs.

These are in fact caterpillar nests, constructed by the pine processionary caterpillar (chenille processionnaire) larva, who live in large ‘tents’ and march out at night in single file (hence the name) to feed on the pine needles.

Am I an organic gardener? An honest answer is “partly”. I believe in trying to do without chemical aids in the garden and have turned to using natural fertilisers and compost and to employing organic gardening techniques for controlling pests where possible. However, I also use chemical methods where necessary.

The P-O is on red alert for pollen allergy. According to the RNSA (National Aerobiological Surveillance Network), responsible for the analysis of the content of the air, cypress pollen is at a particularly high level in our region as well as the Hérault, Aude, Lozère, Aveyron and Tarn.

January is the coldest month of the year but it presents a real challenge: very little is growing, the branches are bare, the spring bulbs are just peeping up and one can see the bare bones of the garden.

There are still some harvests to gather in the garden – the last few marrows and gourds need to be picked before the frosts, and the rows of parsnips are now demanding to be harvested to provide winter delights such as parsnip chips and curried parsnip soup, which are practically unknown to the French.

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