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Monday, 12 August 2013

I said I wouldn't do any more.

We really do have enough bottled sauces in the cellar to last a couple of years. But the veg keep coming and I have a problem with leaving it to rot. Lucky for us the courgettes are all but finished. The tomatoes are not in particularly good codition any more, with some getting blossom end rot, and others being rather soft but with uneven ripening. But the peppers are producing masses, far more than we could possibly need, and aubergines and the dreaded okra are still doing well. I have tried not picking stuff in the hope that the neighbours would use it, especially the okra which is a bit of a luxury as it is almost impossible to grow well in the UK. But I don't see the point in it, it is tasteless and sticky. Dave likes it battered and deep fried, but I would suggest he likes the battered bits rather than the actual vegetable!

Back to the point though. We had just sat down to our meal of omelette made from the first of the eggs from my hens, when our neighbour called, and she handed Dave a lovely bowl of...lutinitza. So kind, but we have twenty odd jars of the stuff on the cellar! How it was different, however, is that the veg had been cooked over wood, giving it a strong smokey flavour which Dave is really keen on. So, even though I am now a reluctant lutinitza maker, I decided we should make another batch and char the peppers and aubergine over wood. Not too much as I found the smoke a bit strong, but a batch so that we have a bit of a change. So off we went to pick some veg. But oh my, there was a lot more than we thought there was, especially peppers. And more worrying is that there are still masses of peppers left on the plants.
So Dave fired up the barbie with wood and set to work on the crate of peppers and bucket of aubergines while I started on the tomatoes.
It was soon apparent that I was in for a marathon, and I knew I only had eight bottles. The tomatoes are easy, and I made a couple of litres of orange tomato sauce. The peppers and aubergines took hours to skin after being brilliantly char grilled by Dave.

Meanwhile Dave had an appointment with a paint brush and has put a couple of coats on the lower part of the outside walls which are covered with insulation on the outside rather than the inside. By the end of the day I had several jars of smokey lutinitza and several more plastic containers for the freezer.....and two huge bowls in the fridge with no homes. Guess we will be going to the market again tomorrow for bottles.

The okra has joined the rest in the freezer!

We are having trouble with garden pests. The broccoli and kale have a huge infestation of flea beetle, as have the cabbages, but they are big enough to cope.

Jordan is going to spray the plants, I don't know what with, and I have a problem coming to terms with the fact that it might be nasty chemicals. But it seems it's that or nothing. We have also been told to stop watering them so much as the beetles like the dampness. I lost all my salad stuff to these little blighters when we first moved here.

Also in trouble are the beans. The French beans looked as if they were fighting off the ants successfully, but now there are so many they look awful and production has slowed right down. The flowers on the runner beans have been nipped off and they came to a halt before they got going, but there are more coming at the top of the plants, which are looking better than the French beans, so I will not give up yet. The lone late cucumber plant we put in has given up though, again it might be because there are so many ants which make tunnels around the roots. The amount of colorado beetles I have seen lately don't fill me with confidence that we will be able to grow potatoes successfully next year either. It looks as if we have a huge challenge ahead next year dealing with all the beasties, which we really don't want to use chemicals on as there is a real threat to friendly wildlife. But we will need the neighbours' help and advice, and the translating thingy Dave has found on the computer will be well used.

The hens all seem to be laying now. The only one we do not know about for sure is Bunty, the white one. But we had a soft shelled egg yesterday from chook unknown, which might have been her. I hope it is a one off with them being young and just starting, as these eggs not only take a lot off effort to push out, but they can break on the way out and give the hen peritonitis.

Sevi is being a great cockerel. I have never known one before, but have heard tales and was worrying that we might get one with dubious temperament. But he seems a real sweetheart, although still young at nine months old. He shows all the girls plenty attention, and seems to like the big girls best. He calls them all over if he finds anything tasty and waits for them to tuck in before he does. He will sit with them in the nest box when they go in to lay, and the ones who were looking outside the pen for somewhere have settled on the temporary nest boxes, with him by their side.
Little does Venus know he was sitting with Silver just minutes earlier......

Dave sat up for a while last night to watch the meteor shower. He was hoping to get some photos but the sky wasn't dark enough. It gave him chance for a cool down though, but at the cost of itchy legs. I didn't go down, but I am still covered with fresh bites this morning.

It looks as if all the apples have dropped from the tree our English neighbours said we could have the fruit from. They are away at the moment and we don't like to fight our way through while no one is home. English reserve I suppose. So it looks as if we will be buying some when they appear in the market. The annoying thing is the neighbours behind is have great apple and pear trees which are overhanging our outbuildings and absolutely laden with fruit. Unfortunately they are ruined when they fall into the chicken pen.

Ah well, maybe someone will have some spares.


  1. Pests are certainly a nuisance and even in our small patch we have some on the loganberry bush, mint and the runner beans. We are not that serious this year as the raised beds aren't in yet but Nev has put things directly into the ground. We have had a much hotter summer (not as hot as you though) this year and this must be the reason. Our tomatoes are still green as we put them in so late and only in a grow bag. I hate garden pests and it puts me off eating stuff. You seem to have loads of surplus produce and Nev and I had the conversation whether you had thought about selling at your local market? I love your pears, I eat them every day and we were thinking about maybe getting the dwarf fruit trees that grow sideways on a frame in our small patch next year! It does seem very hard work for you at the minute but you should feel very proud with your achievements in such a short time. XX

  2. Next year we will be growing less, but any surplus we can either sell or give away. The problem this year is that the peppers, tomatoes etc were planted for us by the neighbour before we moved in, so we can't really just go and sell any we don't want. Hopefully by next year we will have made some contacts so that we can either find an outlet for any excess or where we can give it to do most good to the needy. We also need to find out if selling your excess is counted as earnings, as the cost of having a small business is far too high and we would end up paying more to insurances and accountants than we could ever earn.
    And yes, it can be hard work, but at the end of the day we are working for ourselves so you only get out what you put in. In our case if we run out of money we can live on tomato and veg sauce and eggs!!!!