Reap what you sow
Having had a maison secondaire in the central part of France for many years, we are both now retired and intend to spend almost all our time there. Because of being away from the property for periods of time, we’ve not previously had the opportunity to grow vegetables but have long been keen growers in Suffolk. Weather-wise, can we expect to grow more over a longer period? Andrea Dunn
Every season (and locality) is of course, different but generally, having lived in the 79 department (Deux-sèvres) for almost a decade and a half, it’s my experience that, in a good year, you will be able to gain four to six weeks extra growing time than you presently can in the UK.
You do, though, need to be cautious. While the summer conditions usually drift on long beyond what would typically be autumn conditions in the UK (and thereby give you the opportunity to squeeze in an extra crop of salad leaves and your vegetables more chance to mature and/or ripen) the spring might well be as cold as one would expect in Suffolk.
As in the UK, you can make an earlier start on vegetable growing in France by planting seeds in pots on a warm kitchen window, or in a greenhouse, cold frame or under a cloche. Don’t, however, sow your seeds too early otherwise the seedlings will require planting out before all danger of frost has passed by.
Generally, the season for vegetable growing lasts longer in France than in the UK