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Saturday, 17 May 2014

The freshest veg...

It's so nice to be eating so much of our own produce already this year. I am picking peas every day now, what we don't eat can go in the freezer, but they are so nice fresh and we are not tired of everything with spring veg yet. We are regularly having baby carrots....thinnings and some early planted courgettes, spinach, iceberg, spicy leaves, land cress, lots of herbs, fresh onions and garlic and a few strawberries. The land cress is growing really well in the warm and wet weather. I will try a soup with it next week as the flavour is as strong as the spiciest watercress.

The beans are growing well....

....and have latched on to the poles

Can't wait for the first new spuds from the garden, but the ones in the market are so delicious at the moment that they are in no danger yet

Land cress, a lovely alternative to watercress. Not sure how it will cope when the weather heats up though.
Carrot thinnings and sweet peat

Ready for spring veg pasta
And spring veg soup
Another pick of peas....

...and first to go into the freezer

Most things are coping with being drenched regularly, the exceptions being the mini cucumbers and melons which would prefer to keep warm. Of course the weeds are loving it! The flowers are coping OK, even petunias, and the anemones are still flowering madly. They have been so much better than we thought they would be, definitely worth growing. The seedlings still in the greenhouse have once again been targeted by giant snails, this time they have eaten every one of the twelve lupins I have been nurturing. They have nibbled on the chillis too so there is now another good sprinkling of salt about the greenhouse and the replacement melons have come into the house for protection, flaming things!

The grapes are the next things to flower

The petunias have already given many weeks of flowers, whatever the weather

Anemones still going strong

Last year's chard is going to seed but there is more nearly ready for use

The sage is flowering, pretty in salads

Pesky giant snail
We have had a lot of green and blackfly this year as well as ants. We are not using any bought sprays where possible, but when things get too bad we fall back on good old soapy water to get rid of the aphids. The ants and snails are mostly deterred by diotomacious earth and eggshell sprinkled around vulnerable plants, with a good sprinkle of salt on the greenhouse floor. We are not trying to eradicate things, just keep them to manageable levels. We have a fair few hoverflies and ladybirds helping. We have also started a bin of nettle 'tea' for fertilising the brassicas mostly. I have read a lot on the subject of nettle fertiliser, so many contradicting advice about how long to leave the bucket stewing, ferment or not ferment, use all in one go or keep topping up. I think I will do what suits me, which is to leave it a few days for the nutrients to leech out then strain. I know a lot of people like to let it ferment which is a very stinky way to go, but I will try this and see what happens. If it gets too ripe Dave will not get near it with his weak stomach!

The chicks and geese are all growing well, especially the geese, you can almost see them grow. The fowl pens have been re-arranged so that the shumens and geese now have a patch of the growing area which includes the square under the pear/walnut trees. There is not a lot of grass on there but the fence will be moved once they start looking for a way out and they can have a corridor around the plot where some weeds and grass have been allowed to grow for the wildlife. They still go out on to the lane with Dave and Bella, and they have a plastic box of water to splash about in so all in all they seem happy. They have started to grow a few feathers on their backs and wings and have lost their cute looks. the biggest one has started to make decidedly goosey noises already.
Making themselves comfy on the dog bed.....

....and drinking the dogs' water.

This shows how big they are now

The chicks have also all lost their looks and the next to last lot are well integrated into the laying flock during the day. Cagney's babies are causing her a bit of grief as they start to be more indepenedent. They go through the netting into the veggies growing there, not sure if Cagney is worried about their welfare or jealous that they have lots of juicy veg available. One thing I am anxious about is next door's cat which has decided our feed room might be a good place to hunt. He is a feisty lad and I really don't want him near the chicks, but neither can I shut them all in. I will just have to hope that the flock will see him off if he gets too near.
Where are the kids?

Sampling the spinach.....

...checking out the peas......

....and heading for the beans. Enough!

Dave has been rather poorly this week, with what seems to be a virus. He is rarely ill and this is the first time since we both went down with a lurgy through exhaustion just after we arrived here. Of course rather than rest he has had to try to fix a leaky roof over the kitchen. I heard water running when I went in to make a cuppa and there was a damp patch on the ceiling. He has managed to stop the leak, but nothing is straight forward about buildings here!

He seems to have found himself a little job. After strimming outside our rear neighbour's property and recieving a bottle of rakia for his trouble, the lady of the house came round with some money and a box of chocolates. No matter how much he protested she insisted he had earned it. He did it because they are old and he is a good neighbour. He did the grass again when he did our's and again she gave him money inside a box of biscuits. It's a difficult situation, he would do it any time just to be neighbourly and is a bit embarrassed that they should feel the need to pay and now he feels a bit uncomfortable doing it but can't not. Bless her she rattles away to him though he says he doesn't understand and speaks so quickly.

We have just passed the date that Dave left his job at Chester Zoo, where he had worked for 22 years. He misses the banter and companionship of his work colleagues keenly, especially when the weather confines him to the house, and also the animals and the challenges that his job used to throw at him. Not that he would change anything, but it was a huge part of his life for so long. He has to make do with keeping his chicken records up to date, but it's not quite as satisfying as doing it for a large zoo, and especially the challenge of bug busting for the records administrators. We are now approaching the date we arrived in Bulgaria, a date our neighbour has written on her calendar.

And finally, because bugs are becoming plentiful again, here is a just-emerged mayfly for the bug lovers.


  1. I enjoy reading your blog post. Your garden is exciting with all the veggies and companies you have:) Life in Bulgaria is good. We like it here too:)

    1. Thank you. I know it's silly getting excited over the first pea but I can't help it!