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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Easy week? Well, not quite.

As mentioned in my last post, an easier week was on the cards, especially as the lack of sink means no cooking....doesn't it? Hmm, not quite. The thing is, we still had hot water and buckets to empty it into the outside sink. We also had tomatoes coming out of our ears. And someone wanted chilli jam and I had the ingredients which might not last in this heat. And we need bread of course. Then there is all that milk (It's had to go into the freezer for now)
Just one of the picks of tomatoes in waiting

So it was back to work early in the mornings to get chutney and sauces out of the way in case Dave needed to take charge of the kitchen. These small jobs take what energy I have and by lunch time I was really dragging my feet. I am trying to make cards...even taking makings into the garden, but when you get hot you sweat...and no-one wants sweaty fingerprints on their cards.

But thanks must go to friends who offered advice and help. With our lovely neigbour's help we established that there is a soakaway for the kitchen and outside sink in the chicken pen. Then Dave was dragged to the house behind where permission had been cleared for him to access the back of our kitchen to see if we could find the waste pipe which didn't seem to go anywhere. We were all for this as the alternative was to dig up the kitchen floor and possibly ruin the tiles at the same time.

Well, they did find a pipe, but not the one they wanted. With a lot of heavy digging in silly heat Dave managed to find, tucked against our back wall, a septic tank! Now that is odd, why would there be a septic tank in someone else's garden with a pipe coming from our house? It's not their's, it's too far from their house and has no more pipes. Even the former owner didn't seem to know about it. The owners are very frail and make little sense so no help there. Anyway, after a few days of making holes in stones and concrete we have a sink with all the right bits and bobs and 4'' pipe to make it worth while rather than just a tiny pipe into the ground.

So it was all hell breaking loose to get the mountain of tomatoes processed, peppers too. So we now have a load of whole, halved and mixed cherry tomatoes bottled and a lake of tomato, pepper and courgette sauce.

Luckily we have the gas burner outside for waterbathing, but did others inside as they were smaller

We are struggling to keep on top of the garden now. We have a small window of workable time in the day and if something shopping or having to go next door for morning coffee (which of course usually means pizza or some other yummy doughy stuff) it's then too hot to be outside, even for Dave. Our plans to sort out the flower borders and dead head everywhere has had to be shelved as we concentrate on what is going to feed us in winter. A tour this morning showed leeks trying to shove their way through weeds, celery and chard going to seed, blotchy leaves on the butternuts and melons and we still have flea beetle. The pathetic onions in the top bed have been lifted, the ones in the lower bed will be OK for pickling! They are tiny, hardly grown at all but folded over so they reckon they are 'ready' Major failure, and another one is the sweetcorn. After a promising start it seems we had pollination problems resulting in patchy development of the kernels and some very small cobs. There is enough to see us through the winter as we don't eat a huge amount, but we were hoping for some for the chooks. Many stalks have no cobs at all. So next year they will be planted differently. We think the wall of trees between us and our English neighbours might have stopped any breeze, though they were OK last year.
Despite some yellow leaves, the butternut are coming along

It's a big basket but even so, very little to show for all those plants

I think this is caused by poor pollination

A few were immature, but I picked them anyway

Some were not bad

And this one was rather pretty
Mini melons

The cucumbers are slowing down now and not as sweet so I have to decide whether it's worth sowing a couple more or have we had enough? There are bound to be some coming over the wall once Venka knows our's are not producing...she misses nothing! Decision decisions.

The next job is the red cabbage. I love sauerkraut but Dave doesn't like the smell, and I haven't really perfected it as something always distracts me at the wrong time. So first I will braise some with apple and onion and freeze in portions. We aren't big on pickles so no point in doing any, and the shelf life isn't great it seems, I read that it loses it's crunch after a couple of months.

We still have a few beetroot to use and carrots, some of which have split but we are using them from the ground, not freezing any, we don't like the texture. The white ones have been great, large, tasty, healthy carrots which are a good size for grating for cakes. I am desperate to get more of both in after recnt failures but it's far too hot for seedlings. We could try putting them under green cloches though. Will have to find time.

The runner beans are not liking the heat and after all the lovely flowers promising a fresh flush of beans, they have stalled. The climbing French beans have come back to life though, so we are still getting a bit of variety. (We've had some lovely broccoli) The borlotti are drying and ready to come in, something we can sort out inside.


  1. My last lot of sweetcorn looked worse than that, I also get smut (a delicacy in Mexico, no thanks) and wild birds peck at the cobs so I have to cover them in netting. Then no matter how much you stagger the planting, they always ripen at the same time. So althogh you can't get sweetcorn in Brittany (it's cattle fodder, innit?) it's not worth us bothering. Oh it also gets rust too.

    Tomatoes look good and I'm glad you got your sink sorted!

    1. Haha, it's too dry for too much disease and the birds have a lot to choose from. Kale is cattle fodder too...I must be a bovine!