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Monday, 21 July 2014

In the garden

Well, after all the panic over diseased tomatoes we have done OK. The plants may not have been as tall and pristine as our neighbours’ specimens but they have yielded well for their size. The leaves are all brown and crisp on the plum tomatoes but the fruit, apart from the early rotten ones, have been beautiful, mostly large which is good for chutney, and blemish free. Today I picked a bucket load and there were no rotten ones, just one with a bug hole. There is just one more pick and they will be done and can be pulled out. There is no sign of black stem so happy enough that whatever ailed them is down to weather conditions and not a lurgy The one fault is that they are too large for bottling really as you can only get a few in a large bottle, but I have been using the smaller ones for that. Next year we will choose a smaller fruiting variety.

The cherry tomatoes are still producing well and it looks as if they will for a while yet.  I am pressing them on anyone who will take them (I know how the Bulgarians feel when they have a glut!) The large pink ones have not done badly at all. They are very delicate with thin skins and few pips but we don’t need many as they do not store well. The other large (red) variety have not done brilliantly. There are plenty for sauces etc but I would not grow them again.
Mixed bucket

Some of the 'pink' ones are huge

We are still picking a lot of cucumbers so more pickle will be made today and maybe tomorrow, but it will have to go in big jars as we have no jam jars left. If it doesn’t sell we will not be downhearted, we like it ourselves. Venka has just given us a carrier full of green peppers so some ot them can go in too, she is worried that our’s are not doing well, but actually we will soon be swamped in spite of the geese trying to eat all the plants. She also sent over some freshly cooked giant corn cobs, but I have to say they are not delicious! I am presuming they are what are grown for the chickens and the actual kernels are small, tough and almost bitter. Will have to think what to do with them. If our’s are the same (Bulgarian variety) the chooks will be happy.

Most of the courgettes we are allowing to grow to marrow size and passing them to Venka for her animals, just using tiny ones for ourselves. Again, anyone who comes and don’t have their own are going away with more than they want. The melons are still doing OK and the butternuts are still producing more fruit. Thank goodness we didn’t feed them!
Small and fragrant

On the bean front I am letting the runners grow beans for next year. I will try again with them but be a bit more careful with preparing the ground. They have done OK considering there were pumpkins and weeds last year where they are and we didn’t dig in any compost. The French beans are still producing like mad but I am letting some go to seed for the baked beans in winter. They are also being given away regularly. I love to give things. The borlotti beans are pulled and drying in the sun. Most have dried pods but we don’t want to wait for the stragglers as  we don’t want the first ones to shed their beans or get too wet in the heavy rain we are still getting occasionally.

The borlotti have to be amongst the most beautiful veg ever

Such a shame they go brown when cooked

Dry on the right, not quite ready on the left.
We are still battling whitefly on the brassicas and now the cabbage white butterflies have made an appearance and there are masses of them hovering. The chickens will soon be getting extra protein with their lacy leaves!

The raspberries are at last giving us more tasty little berries but as they are usually eaten in the garden there are no photos. The black plums are being collected from the ground every day and frozen ready for jam making when I get some jars. We have been luckier than some with our grapes and should have some to dry into raisins and some for Jordan for his rakia or Dave if he wants to continue trying to make wine. Jordan can definitely have the cornels which are ripening nicely and starting to drop. I must pick rhubarb too as it is taking over one end of the much to do, lovely. The figs and peaches are growing slowly.

We have processed most of the brown onions now, some into pickles, some frozen in wedges and slices and some are drying. It won't really make much difference when we want to use them as we only ever use red ones raw and they have all been transferred to the back bedroom, the coolest, rather than the cellar which I hate. 

Our ‘herbaceous’ border is looking good thanks to gifts from the neighbours and the presence of Morgan’s Plants at the car boot sales. I try not to look at plants as I chat with Graham and his helper, Helen, but Dave is not as strong. The trouble is they are such healthy plants and very cheap....just begging to be bought! The nicotiana are not running out of steam yet and continue to perfume the air later in the day. Unfortunately they are the first thing people see when they walk down tha path and during the day look dead. Ah well, you can’t have it all ways.
Crocosmia starting to flower


They were late getting going, but the flowers on the morning glory are huge

Ending with a bug


  1. Hi! In the States, some make corn cob jelly, it's considered a delicacy! (Just in case that's what your corn present was for, and not the chooks)! Best regards, Laure, Louisiana

    1. Hi Laure. I have no idea but will ask around. Another load were passed over yesterday and I have stripped and frozen it till I know what to do with it. Most veg are canned here so maybe the processing would make a difference. Meanwhile I tried one of our's yesterday and it was absolutely delicious.

      And the chooks are enoying the cenrtres with bits still left on for them.

  2. How disappointing -- the corn looks so delicious. Our local corn isn't quite ready yet. I can't grow my because the raccoons come right over the 6 foot fence and devour it.

  3. I adore your blog and have wasted far too much time reading it :-$

    1. Aww thank you CC.....I think! Haha

      Seriously, it's always nice to get good comments, thanks very much.

  4. Your blog is so inspiring! You two are very hard working people to achieve all of it within such a short period of time. That is our dream. At the moment we are packing up for Bulgaria and will be off in a few days, bringing Yorkshire tea and Gravy for our Scottish friends. We hope to visit a food fair near VT on the 13th of August, looking forward to it. Thank you for being so open and thank you for your time. If you can do it, we will be able to do the same, I think. Or not?:) -Tatiana and Peter-

    1. Of course you can Tatiana. Many do fail for two reasons I think. One is that they don't realise how much work is involved and get pannicky about weeds and trying to process gluts, but generally I think gardening and all that goes with it is not a passion but an ideal and when they find that seasonal food is so cheap in the market they think what the heck! The other is the physical strength. Dave does all the heavy work, I grow seeds and put them in the ground, try to do a spell of weeding every day and make lots of lovely food in the kitchen, but the hours are long.

      We went to the food fair once to deliver a painting, but was a bit disappointed. I didn't really know what to expect but there were a few vans selling British and Asian convenience foods and store cupboard ingredients most of which can be found cheaper in the shops. You learn to live without most British food, an exception being cheddar cheese in our case, especially with me being a vegetarian. And also we try to live on what we can grow, but I realise not everyone is the same.

      Good luck in your move, it is so exciting starting something new.

  5. How productive, nice to see the benefits of your hard work.