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Spring specials in Southern France


I just met my eldest son – a busy language teacher with fairly limited uncommitted-gaps in his schedule – a few days ago, by his invitation, for an all-too-brief and brilliant weekend together in Carcassonne, beautiful and historic mediaeval town in Southwest France.

Alas, the weather was so disgusting (as all over Europe, I gather), that there was no way we could do “outdoors” things much except as an imitation Outward Bound exercise (no gardens this time, therefore, though – hopefully – a French friend with a long-established garden down there has said I could come to visit and explore! …).

However, before his arrival I had snuck out to the Saturday market in the main square (wish I’d come in a car from home, there were so many plants and flowers and fruit and veg I,d have loved to plunder and try), and I brought back the harvested trophies above, to eat at least.

What do you think? – Marmande, are they? – yep, they look ugly and don’t make nice neat slices, but boy do they taste good! Do any of you grow them? Could I do so? (You’ll gather I’m not a tomato expert, most of mine in England’s Norfolk ended up as green tomato chutney (nice, too, though), and here I usually get given “swopsies” of tomatoes for other veg. etc., so have concentrated on other targets….

Would welcome any thoughts…

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Lucky you! Carcassonne is such a beautiful city. We were there with my two youngsters in February. Back in 2000 we moored up on the canal and explored the new town but this year we revisited the old town. It was great to be there when it wasn't heaving with tourists. The weather was kind to us so we were able to amble through the streets and enjoy the spectacular views from the ramparts.
Marmandes are delicious, I love them on their own or in a salad drenched in french dressing. I haven't yet grown them, but I do grow beefsteak tomatoes each year along with cherry and the standard toms. The seeds I sowed at the end of February have produced promising plants; they are still on windowsills at the moment but will go into the porch in the next few days and then into the greenhouse when the nightime temperatures are less likely to drop too low.
My partner is currently buying a property in the Cerdagne, so I may have a garden in the Pyrennees to potter in before long. We have only been in Winter ( for the skiing), so I have yet to see what can be grown there in the Spring, Summer or Autumn.

16 Apr, 2013


Those look tasty ...
are you going to grow some ?

1 Jun, 2013


Bit late but only just stumbled in. I used to grow marmande, mine was a "Grande Rus" , i had bought them from an organic veggie marketstall n could not believe how delicious they were. I had expected something fairly watery. He gave me some of his young plants and i grew them every summer, my best crop ever, dont need a lot of water, put some cardboard n straw around them n they only need watering once maybe twice a week. Some weighed more than a pound, enough for a week for one! I was in Gascony in the Gers, so you could most definitely grow them with your hot hot summers, if you havent done so already. Good luck.

22 Apr, 2014

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