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Monday, 4 May 2015

Getting ready for the new season

Well, I say taking stock. But after doing the pre-season freezer clean and chucking any bits and bobs that look doubtful, it seems we judged things pretty well on the frozen veg front. Admittedly we didn’t have nearly  enough peas or sweetcorn (the corn was my fault....I gave it to the chickens thinking it was the tough stuff the neighbours gave us) we are left with a bag of French beans, a bag of runner beans and one of carrots (frozen carrots are only fit for stew and soup) and a few sugarsnaps. There are also a few portions of stewed apple and some apricot puree, and one box of walnuts. So we are ready to start again, the first job will be to pull and slice the onions which have all bolted! They say pride comes before a fall, well it serves me right for saying how good the onions looked in my last post. Two days later tiny flower buds started appearing and every one of the two hundred have had to have them removed. There may be no more growth so it’s a case of minimising the damage and pulling them before they start to rot. Though having pulled one it look like a giant spring onion so if we can't get more sets I might try leaving them for a bit if it stays dry.What a blow! 

On the bottled front we have a couple of jars of tomatoes, one jar of pickled tomatoes (someone was doing some and I didn’t want to be left out....but pickled tomatoes? Don’t fancy them.) There are a few jars of tomato and tomato and pepper sauce from our first year and some pears and plums too. We don’t eat a lot of fruit but it seemed a waste for it all to go to rakia. Then there is the ‘gone wrong’ chutney, basically put in our stores because they were cooked too long and went a bit jammy. There are also various bottles Venka has given us, not sure what it all is, and a lovely bottle of roasted peppers from another neighbour.

And there is one small butternut squash left, though we are squashed out and the chickens had the last one and will probably have this.

Freezer wise I aim to do a lot more of the things that freeze well, presuming I can get another crop in later. Peas are the biggest thing, and broad beans. I have already mentioned the borlotti and we have plenty of those coming. We got used to frozen French and runner only have to try a bottled one to realise that frozen are not bad after all. I am putting more kale in as that freezes well, as does spinach and chard. What I don’t want a lot of are carrots and courgettes, though the latter can always go to the ducks. More sweetcorn, that should be easy enough, and later on leeks. I will just keep bottling tomatoes, we use a lot of them, and hopefully the peppers will do a bit better this year as the ones I am growing are squat, fleshy ones which are great sweet pickled.
Not many peas, but a start...yum

Hopefully it will be a better year for walnuts this year too. Last year they had a very dry winter and early spring before the torrential rains came and the nuts were small and many had bugs or were simply rotten inside. At least I resisted giving them all to the birds this year and have enough to see us through summer.

It seems a goat is on the cards for this year. Or rather, two. One goat on it’s own will either be miserable or insist on being with you all the time, they need company. So we will hopefully getting a white nanny and her black kid. The stable for them is ready with a raised platform, high stable door with safety bolt, high fenced chook pen which they will have to share when not out with Dave. There is a new high gate fitted to the woodshed side to stop poultry and goats going down and disturbing the bees....and hens laying eggs all over the place so we can’t find them. The doe is a new mum so she will have to be trained to milking so these novice milkers can cope. Then there will be cheese and yoghurt o make.......
Poor Splash will have to stretch to get over this one!

While he was at it he fixed the one on the small run

Also new, maybe, some eggs have been set in the incubator (I give up!) this time from the ex-batts with the hope of getting some new laying hens for next year. A cross between the layers and Shumen Sevi should produce a good laying bird who won’t be worn out by the time they’re 18 months old from over-producing.

Our well pump has broken...for the third time! Looking for the receipt as it should still be under warranty. Dave had just sorted all the hoses and got them settled so that there is one ready for all parts of the garden which is so much easier on us and the plants than moving them around as you water. Then...nothing. It’s a submersible pump so we don’t know if the water deposits have affected it, but surely they wouldn’t give a long guarantee if they didn’t expect them to last. So it’s another trip into the city to try to get it fixed. The last thing we need is to have to water from the mains in a dry spell....never mind refreshing the water when the pool comes out. Next week we are being given temperatures in the thirties so it seems imminent.

Exciting news on the wildlife front. The orioles are definitely back, adding their clear if monotonous song to the other summer visitors. We weren’t sure if what we were hearing was the starling who mimics the oriole, but once you hear the real thing you just know. So May 1st was the day when ex-pats all over Bulgaria got on to facebook to say their’s were back.

It seems that date has also galvanised all the Bulgarians into action in our area and on a trip to the supermarket there were people everywhere working hard in their gardens putting out their tender plants. All around us there is the sound of steel poles being driven into the ground, and watching Angel behind us, bent double as he shuffled around, measuring the distance of the poles with a stick made for the job, is quite humbling. We huff and puff about putting in a mere forty plants, he is still putting in hundreds in dead straight trenches, two abreast (we do single lines) To be honest though, they are a lot smaller than last year’s plants and none were put in early and covered with plastic as he usually does. It seems his accident before Christmas has really taken it’s toll. I really didn’t think he would do much this year, but he has a long potato bed, lots of onions and other goodies, all immaculate.His wife, equally bent, has been out with the cultivator preparing the rest of their growing plot for watermelons and pumpkins.  But a lot of his fruit trees have been given a rather drastic prune, there won’t be much fruit there. Dave does what he can for them but they will not accept free help...which is not free at all as they insist on sending us buckets of produce through summer, despite us growing our own! And rakia. And sweeties.....

Yesterday was World Naked Gardening day (!) and we waited all day for people to post pictures on facebook...but no-one did, so neither did we. Spoilsports! facebookers...I know who you are a few I took, all in the best possible taste of course!

Splash is aghast!

Bella unsure...

Nothing to do with not wearing enough clothes, Dave and I have both got the most awful colds. We had just got over one when we went out socialising and caught another! We are not used to this. One upside of not mixing is that you avoid the bugs, the downside being you have no immunity I suppose. I'm sticking to doing as little as I can while still keeping moving but have aching joints and head, and without going into gunky. Horrible. We've gone through loads of loo roll as man-size tissues are a bit scarce here (haven't seen any) Of course Dave can't sit still even when he's crook! Things are not helped by the on-going internet problems, happening a lot lately, which means no TV and no communications with the outside world.

Finally, I would like to thank everyone for their supportive comments, they are very much appreciated. Crisis over, I can possibly put my mood down to coming down with this virus. Now, if the internet would only sort itself out I can load some's a long holiday weekend here so it might be some time.


  1. I love the garden shots... I had no idea that it was naked gardening day... all the locals here think we are running a nudist camp anyway since one of our volunteers insisted on drying herself after her shower in front of the washroom in full view of our neighbours finca - where obviously he was working on his land at the time. Once they get these ideas its hard to dislodge them and they don't understand why we want to live here and not in the town anyway. Still very jealous of your produce... my veggie plot is overrun with ants just now... and I do mean over run... can hardly go in without being attacked... its like a horror film.

  2. Oh dear, you are having a time of it! The Bulgarians, especially the youngsters, don't understand why we want to live here in the village either...or in the country.

    It's lovely to be eating our own fresh veg at last, you get fed up of frozen.

  3. I love your lifestyle and hope one day to be doing the same when dh retires, though I think we will give the naked gardening thing a pass though!!

    1. You and me both Gill, gravity and old age have put paid to that well and truly.

      I hope anyone who really wants to do this gets the chance to, for however long. A very satisfying life, even with all the ups and downs.

  4. I hope you both feel better soon. Can't wait to meet the goats :-)

    1. Unfortunately I just got over the last mucky cold and am now in feverish pain. I don't like it, pain is something I live with, don't normally do poorly! Must be because I am at a low point after the other two.

      Oh woe is me. (feeling sorry for myself won't help!)

  5. Hope you both start to feel better. Great shots of bugs and garden. Looking forward to seeing and hearing about the goats. Lots of lovely milk, really good for you. Plus the products you can produce from it. Rosemary.

  6. Love to read your blog, we have just started our own veg garden in our first house and having great fun inspecting plants on a daily basis! Weather is still very cool, wet and blowy here in Northern Ireland but hopefully some better weather on the way soon. Keep up the blogging I really enjoy it 😊

  7. Thank you Emma. I know what you mean, I have been growing veg for donkeys years in varying amounts, but still get a buzz out of daily inspections. Today we have been next door to our Bulgarian neighbours' home for coffee and it's interesting to see where they are behind us and in front with other things, then they came and inspected the British way of doing it. Lots of 'dobre' (good) and 'bravo' and touching things that they don't grow. Trying to explain rhubarb and artichokes....what fun!