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Monday, 5 May 2014

Storms and animals

Everything is growing like mad out here, from chicks and goslings to fruit and veg, but most of all....weeds! The warm and wet weather of this spring is ideal growing weather, but also good for diseases and pests. Hey ho, swings and roundabouts.
These salad leaves were weeded two days ago!

Yesterday we had thunder rumbling all day, making Bonnie uneasy, then a ferocious storm with sheet lightening, thunder which shook the house and torrential rain. in the evening. We gave Bonnie some valerian which helped most of the time, but when the very worst was on us, all we could do was worry for her. She is fine this morning. Bella doesn't mind a normal storm, but even she had an anxious moment or two and refused a trip out for a wee, meaning Dave had to get up later to let them out. Today is cool and damp and the fire is lit until it burns out, just to air.

The grape vines we allowed to grow last year, after years of being cut to the ground by previous owner, and which grew strong and healthy, have now got a lurgy. From what we can find on Google it seems to be caused by an insect and causes raised areas on the leaves. We really don't want to spray and are looking at leaving alone and seeing what happens. There are lots of flowers coming but we are hoping they will be unaffected.

We think this might be the culpret

A healthy vine

We are also inundated with greenfly. They are easily removed but are irritating and leave damaged flowers. Also masses of ants. The chooks had a field day when one of the ant nests in the pen erupted in flying ants, hilarious. We are still having trouble with the giant snails. Despite salt and diotomacious earth all over the greenhouse, they have chomped all the spare cucumbers and the replacement melons. I have no choice but to put the pepper and chilli seedlings just germinated in there, so have re-treated and crossed fingers. The chooks are not interested in the snails unless they are actually out of their shells, they are too hard to break in to.

We now have pods on the peas, the Bulgarian petit pois ones, and the broad beans are starting to set after the usual early flowers dropping off without leaving a beanie behind. We are eating the spicy salad leaves and land cress, and have started on the over wintered iceberg lettuce, a nice crunchy change from the soft varieties. I am also weeding out and using any pathetic looking garlic and onions which are unlikely to grow into good specimens. All the climbing beans are romping away, though there have been a few no-shows on the runner beans. The sweetcorn is up, courgettes have babies, tomatoes will need tying in this week and the cherry ones in troughs are flowering. A couple of the aubergines keeled over but have been replaced, the mini cucumbers and okra are sulking a bit but holding on. All the caulies died after starting off really well, their roots shrivelling. More have been sown, a Bulgarian variety that has large heads so less needed for freezing. We had our first small pick of rhubarb in a crumble pie, but it is not doing as well as I hoped. The apricot, like our neighbor's, is quite badly diseased, but is now showing new leaves.
Tomato flowers

Cherry tomatoes doing well
Squat, fleshy peppers for pickling and tortured chillis, survived their first night in the greenhouse

Borlotti beans for drying and sulking mini cucumbers

Tomato plants growing well

Four rows of toms, one or aubergines

Petit pois

Broad beans flowering well

The okra just about survived the storm

Peppers growing outside, far too many


Baby courgettes appearing...mud splashed!

A trip to the market was an eye opener the other day, we buy our veg there so go every week (hopefully not for much longer) and it seems the first of May is a trigger for planting out your tender plants.

We have a large local market every Wednesday in our local town. There are three sections, the usual clothes, cookshops, soft furnishings as well as hunting and fishing gear and tools etc all by a railway track. On the other side of the track is the fruit and veg market and this is the one which is so different to the UK. In the food line, fruit such as lemons, oranges and bananas are imported, and most of the veg available is local and seasonal or stored. There are also people selling honey, eggs, spare milk and cheese and occasionally pork belly fat. Some sellers have just a cardboard box with a little of their surplus produce. There are seeds and fruit trees and vines, all only sold when it is the right time to plant, we have learned to be patient if we need anything, it will be there at the right time for planting, not hanging around for months in poor conditions in garden centres, spoiling.

Just recently there have been tomatoes, peppers, aubergine plants coming in, and on Wednesday there were mountains of plants, bare rooted and carefully placed in large piles. I have never seen anything like it. We have found there is an optimum date for when things appear and as said before, the beginning of May seems to have been a trigger, though some people jumped the gun a couple of weeks ago. All the piles are meticulously labelled by variety and many are tied in bunches. They cost pennies and I am wondering why I have bothered to grow my own from seed. As well as the plants mentioned above there were peanuts, chillies and brassicas, all bare rooted. I just find it amazing after years of careful handling of young plants by their leaves and making sure they go straight from seed tray to pot in seconds to make sure they do not get stressed and here are all these plants, up to two feet tall, just lying in heaps. A real education.

All the tender cucumbers, melons and courgettes are grown in yoghurt pots. Freshwater fish, mostly carp, are sold live and wriggling in carrier bags, or can be dispatched if you want them that way.

But then I come home and see all my home grown lttle plants happily growing in the garden and feel a small sense of pride.

The goslings are growing and have made themselves at home. From the frightened little scraps they were last week, two taken from mum and three having to go through the market, they are now confidently following anyone, me, Dave or either dog. From the first it was found that they were less stressed if they were herded through the chicken run and onto the lawn rather than put into a carrier to be transported. They initially had a litter tray of water in the 'ark' but we needed that for the smallest chicks who need to get out for excercise and sun. Now they just potter about, often followed by Bella, then just flop in a heap for a rest. They bathe in the litter tray often, which concerns Bella a bit, and make sudden mad dashes for no apparent reason, feet flapping on the ground so loud you can hear them coming. They are not in the least worried by the dogs having a mad five minutes, just lying in a heap chatting while the dogs charge past.
Bella checking bums

Watching over her babies

Bonnie just ain't interested after an initial sniff.
Litter tray bath

Just plonk down anywhere, on the lawn, in the flower bed....

....under the table

The marans and two shumen chicks are off to their new home tomorrow. It will be a relief to have their space as the last of the chicks are due to hatch. There are so many in the run at the moment now that the smalls are starting to go out. The adults totally ignore the littles, there are just too many to bother with. All we need to do is find them all homes but hope they are what they seem, mostly hens, as we have agreed to seven going without cockerels.
The littlies exploring....

...and dust bathing

So many chickens....
After the storm, there are a lot of battered plants, most damaged are the flower border plants, but one plant has bloomed beautifully, the peopny is gorgeous....though the pink one is always covered in ants even though I knock them off every time I pass.

Soggy nicotiana
The car boot sale yesterday was a complete disaster. Only five sellers turned up, two soon left, one packed up and two of us stayed till 11. Felt sorry for the organiser, the weather is just not being kind for the second time. Hopefully next week's will be better at Hotnitsa.


  1. Things are looking great. House and garden.
    I have followed your blog from almost the beginning and really enjoy it, I look forward to new posts..
    I am wondering whether you could post sometime about your weekly/monthly/yearly living costs - and the costs of your project. Noddy.

  2. Thanks for your kind comments Noddy. I have no idea about living costs really, except that it is a fraction of the UK. Dave does the money side of things. I do know that you can live for a year on what we earned between us in two months in the UK though!