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Friday, 12 September 2014

In the garden

This morning we (I) decided it was time to get the butternuts in. The geese have been let through there and have started to sample the fruits of the vine. They have also eaten bites out of all my red and ready squat peppers! They won't eat the ones I don't need of course. Noisy flipping nuisances! (I am watching them now, reaching through the mesh, never satisfied) Anyway, forty squashes picked and washed, minus some given to the neighbours, drying on the wall. Rather too many for the two of us but I'm sure they'll come in handy somewhere. We have already given fifteen or more to friends. A success I think, but maybe grow less next year.
Very muddy after the rain

Venka saw us out there and handed us cheese breakfast bread, hot from the oven
Looking good

There seems to be a pest lurking

Well camouflaged

Trying to find a gap in the fence so he can visit the chooks

While I was down there I picked some peppers the geese didn't fancy, an aubergine, tomatoes and some chillis ready for lunch. Veggie chilli, with onions and garlic, plus borlotti beans, all home grown apart from a splash of olive oil. Yum. The chillis are not hot, and one each gives a small nudge rather than a kick so they will suit us as neither of us like hot spicy food. There are masses on the plants so will have plenty for drying.

I have been around collecting seed from various flowering plants. No point buying them when they are there for the picking and we are not really bothered what colours they are. I have taken seeds from penstemon, nicotiana, antirhinum, echinacea, echinops, canna lily, nasturtium and French marigold. There are still some flowers in the garden and some have started to look better since the rain. But a couple of the dahlias are out now as they had died right back and it has given us space for the chard which l will be able to pick from the path. Lots of plants are now on the compost heap, including some grape vines as having them over the perennial border didn't work, too much shade and we couldn't see anything unless we made a concious effort to look.

These two colours are on one plant, not fading out but different on each side

Chard amongst the flowers


Mini aster

Hydrangea leaf, autumnised

Hydrangea flower, it is creamy white but goes green with age

Nicotiana, the fragrance has been giving us pleasure for months

French marigolds

Petunia million bells picking up now it is a bit cooler
My little helper, by the gate he arrived through

He's grown so much, he fell down these step when he arrived
In the veggie garden the brassicas are weathering the flea beetle and coming out strong the other side. We seem to have some help in the form of sparrows picking them off, alternating between chook food, sunflower seed and beetles...healthy birds. The tomatoes are out and the last of the courgette plants. We are eating plenty of leeks, broccoli and cabbage. I am cautiously optimistic that we might have sprouts, they are showing no sign of going to seed as I was worried about with the prolonged humid heat. The sage grown from seed has made huge plants, and the thyme, tarragon (don't use, tasteless) and parsley have also done well. My chives are not yet really doing much, a shame as I like to use a lot in all sorts of dishes.
Self sown beans


Sparrows on the psb
We were languishing in the pool earlier after getting rather hot....and yes it is still very warm...when Dave pointed out foot prints on the wall under the spare room window. Once my eyes had adjusted  (I was looking for footprints, not paw prints!) we agreed they must be marten prints, and when we got out we saw more on the window ledge. They were muddy after the rain. Cheeky devil. I had lain awake for hours a couple of nights ago, spending time looking out of our bedroom window (with fly screen) and although we had the amazing bright moon, I could hear something moving about but couldn't see what it was. Dave let the dogs out, it was around one-ish, and they had a good sniff around, but once they were all in the noises started up again. The geese in the garage had complained about something and some chickens were restless, not sure if it was our's or Venka's, probably the latter as they tend to be out but enclosed at night. I sat for a bit longer but could see nothing....because he was round the side of the house it seems!

We have decided not to take any more honey this year. As it is our first year with bees we are being cautious. There seems to be plenty to see them over the winter but we may start to feed them if we have a long/hard one. The quince are by the hive and I can report that it is a bumper year. Unfortunately there is only so much you can do with quince for two people. We made masses of quince paste, jellies with herbs and spices and tarte tatin last year, but most of the paste got chucked out as we could only use so much and no-one else was interested in trying it. Of course in Spain where they use a lot, they have it with Manchego cheese. Unfortunately most of the cheese here is tasteless rubber or soft sirene (like soft, young feta) so that limits things. You can get more cheese selection in the big German supermarkets, but the cost and price of diesel means it is a dear job. Shame.

Laden quince trees
Another thing we looked at while down there was the goose pond. It started as a wet patch where the car box paddling pool was emptied. Dave dug it out a bit and it held water, so he dug a bit more and now there is a decent pond which is topped up every day when the box is emptied. The box is filled via the well daily as geese like water to go with their food, but inevitably they go from one pond to the other as the will takes. But when it rains and the soil around gets wet the water leaches out of the pond. So a liner is needed really. Maybe next year when Dave is thinking of getting some ducks. Meanwhile the wildlife in the form of frogs and toads are seen in and around.
 And so to the now regular kitten spot. Splash is growing every day and is now nearly proper weaned kitten sized. He is not having milk feeds any more though he gets a bowl of goat's milk still. He eats tinned cat food, soaked dried kitten kibble and any meat or fish he can be spared. He can certainly lap if you give him the stock from a boiled chicken carcase and has been seen drinking from the dogs' water bowl. He lets us know if he is thirsty but we are keeping an eye on his hydration as he was so dangerously underweight and dehydrated when he arrived. He has amazing energy and wants to be in on everything as kittens do, but I still worry if I can't find him as we have the chooks just outside and he is determined to be in there. There are fourteen adults and three half grown chicks, he wouldn't stand a chance if they took against him. His tree climbing skills are coming along. That will be a good escape route if he gets caught out with the geese around. Also he has managed to creep up the steep wooden stairs to the bedroom and in silent cat fashion crept around wondering where we were hiding. I say silent....he left his engine running! So down he went and into his box where he stayed till I came down at 5.30. He plays hard and sleeps hard. Bless him.

Where we going Bella?

Going up.....


....and down.
There is still the problem of the dogs and the litter tray and feeding station. Generally they are very good but both the litter tray and food have to be in a cage with kitten sized holes as both dogs will forget their manners occasionally when there is something which smells either cage. Yeuch. How do our sweet little ladies get so disguating? We do empty the tray as soon as it is used, but we are not always around. Strangely they have never moved the crates when we have gone out. Kitten wees outside a lot now so if we can get his twice daily others outside soon that will be great. But of course we will have no control on the dogs and their disgusting habits at all...................


  1. My dog has similar tastes, shudder. Loved your pics , especially Splash exploring the butter nuts. I was wondering what do you keep the geese for. Are they eventually going to be food?

    1. Yes, food. Which is why I have nothing to do with them being an occasional-fish-eating veggie. Three are booked for Christmas and one is growing too big so will be in the freezer sooner. But we will not have them again. They are too noisy when they see Dave and need lots of space. And most importantly they are forever grabbing my chooks through the mesh. The chooks are too stupid to steer clear!

  2. Any chance Venka would share the recipe for that delicious looking breakfast bread?

    1. Hi Gloria. Unfortunately if I asked I wouldn't understand! A demo would take too much time and would probably involve breakfast and lunch, rather like inviting yourself for a day of feasting. This is what happens if you ask how do do something, they are very generous but I have my own routines so that I can fit things in. However, there is a video on youtube on making tutmanik, which is what this rich bread is. You can substitute a sachet of instant yeast (7g) and feta for sirene cheese. The video doesn't work properly on here, it used to, but you can still get the recipe and pick up what they are doing.

  3. Have you checked out the recipes at the quince tree blog? This is the link. The quince recipes are almost at the end of the page. Hope you find something to use up your glut!