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Thursday, 20 June 2013

Courgettes and more courgettes  6-6-2013
We have had our instructions! When lovely neighbour brought over our breakfast (Bulgarian speciality, eggy bread) there was a lot of gesticulating over the courgettes, and I agreed to start using them. I don't really like courgettes greatly. I like them sliced very thinly and dusted with a mixture of plain flour and potato flour, and fried till crisp, not very healthy. We had some last night with garlic (bought green and fresh and juicy) and pepper in some of the yoghurt we were given the day before. Yummy. I like a Greek dish made with courgettes, garlic, sliced potatoes, feta (or in this case, some sirene) and a dash of yoghurt, baked in the oven. We had that the night before when she gave us some courgettes from her side. I even quite like them char grilled, maybe tonight. They are acceptable diced and fried till brown, garlic, oil, herb of choice and tossed with pasta. But I don't want them every day! Trouble is, I have got used to more choice and it will take a while to get used to having practically none. All that is in the shops at the moment is tomatoes, cucumber, onion, garlic, potatoes, peppers and courgettes. With the occasional withered orange, lemon or banana. We have started to plant for variety, more later on that.
Dave decided it was time to bring the car into the garden. Having it parked outside is not a good idea as everyone knows when you are out, and we Brits are known to have lots of nice things to steal....though I'd like to see anyone try to get past our neighbour! There was a pile of sandy soil just outside the gate. We are presuming it was put there to stop anyone getting a van into the garden after neighbour's son stopped a robbery, long before we arrived. Dave and neighbour had been out weeding the last of the veg patch since early, and Dave felt he had done enough for one day. So he took a spade with the intention of just moving enough soil to get the car in....but hadn't reckoned on neighbours. Their hearing is sharp! Out they dashed with 'proper' tools and poor Dave was set to work again. With a couple of wheelbarrows and two filling them, Dave was set to first strim a rough patch, then barrow the soil, all to encouragement of other neighbours. There must have been a couple of tons, but they weren't about to let anyone else get their hands on it. Where do they get their energy? Meanwhile, I was sitting indoors with the dogs who are reluctant to have 'Dad' mixing with the neighbours. Eventually Dave had to call time. By then he had been doing hard graft for six hours. He is supposed to be relaxing into gentle early retirement. Neighbours were then dashing around their garden doing those jobs they would have done earlier. Dave collapsed for the afternoon. He managed a few more barrows later without company. What a day! Everyone is so good humoured though, and we are all learning from each other, language and ways of doing things.

Soup came over the fence last night. Very tasty it smells too, and no courgettes!
I have planted some seeds for winter veg and herbs and salad in modules ready for planting out later, but have some carrots, beets, beans, peas and chard which needs to go in asap, so at six this morning we were out in the newly cleared patch with tools and dogs, eager to get them in before too late. I have no watering can yet so improvised with a pop bottle with holes in the lid. The soil is dry so the drills needed watering before the seeds went in. The area is not ideal as there is competition for light and water from the walnut and pear trees, but it's a start, and a change from courgettes and pumpkins! It wasn't long before Venka's eagle eyes spotted what we were doing. Of course we knew the spot was not ideal, but she wanted us to dig up and throw out her pumpkins to make more space in the light. Bless her. We don't want to grow masses, there are only two of us. And with the amount of food she keeps handing over the fence.......
Anyway, we had a great time trying to explain what was in the seed packets. Carrots, broccoli and radish were fine. But chard, purple carrots, Tuscan kale and rhubarb were way out of her comprehension, and not in the dictionary either! I hope they all grow ok for no other reason than to see her face when they are ready.
When it came to planting there were more puzzled looks. The soil there goes from quite chunky and hard to really dry and dusty, so we had brought out a few tools which we hoped would be suitable for the job. These included a hoe which she had not seen before, and a small tool which we had bought locally, a sort of hand tiller. Great excitement, price, it's Bulgarian, but new to Venka! We had already done the beans and peas, but was just starting the first of the carrots, ones that stay in the ground over winter, and had made a drill and watered it, added the seed and was bringing soil over to cover them with the ne ne, wrong. So she showed me how. Just bend double and delicately pull a little soil from both sides with your hand and pat the top down. Takes ages and there is no way I would be able to do that. Then it was the turn of beetroot, another gasp! What is that? To those not in the know beetroot come in little clusters, but obviously not in BG, and the packet was inspected to see if it was right. I tried, with the help of the dictionary, to explain cluster and showed that they can be planted individually a couple of inches apart. This time she used the little tool she had not seen before, and her face was a picture. it took a lot less time and effort (she wouldn't let me do it) and she was soon an expert. We will be buying her one next time we are in town. Purple carrots and chard (also clusters) followed and then I called it a day so Dave could do the rest of his soil. I have not yet been able to tell Venka that I am limited by arthritis in how much I can do at a time, and how long I can stay bent double. Seems daft when she is 15/20 years older than me and still nimble. For the same reason I find it easier to wear stout shoes instead of flip flops on rough ground, also funny! So all in all we both learned something today.
We have a resident snake. It lives in the wall directly in front of where we sit just outside the back door. It is a very beautiful, very long and slim, grass snake. Unfortunately he will not hang around long enough for a photoshoot. He pokes his nose out of several different holes before suddenly making a dash for it from an unexpected part of the wall and slithers past the well to the gap between Dave's cooling off bath and the wall. We have never seen him go on from there, and we thought he would move on once his cover had been strimmed down. Bella is fascinated. She goes up and down the wall sticking her nose into all orifices. I hope she doesn't bring it out with a three foot snake attached to it one day! It might move out when the chooks move in, they will not be shy at having a go if they see it. I just hope we get a pic first

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