So it started slowly and dampened the ground before setting in to heavier periods of very warm rain. you could almost hear the parched garden sigh, the poultry, dogs and cats took on a new lease of life, and we sat and watched it. Of course we soon got fed up and told it to stop as there was enough moisture in the soil, but it took it's time doing so. A couple of days after stopping the temperatures rose and we are up to around thirty again, but the nights are longer so we see a little more cool in the early morning.
I have to say here that again we have been lucky. Just the other side of the mountains, and nearer the coast, people have once again lost their lives in floods. My heart goes out to all those affected, so terribly sad.
So how has it affected things here? Well....everything in the garden has put a spurt on for one thing. From flowers to fruit to veg, there is a resumption of growth and bloom. Unfortunately the few butternuts we have are suffering from the sudden drenching and have started to split. This has been offset by new growth (yes, in just a few days) and flowers. Once they start to grow the fruits are very quick to put on size so there is a slim chance that we may get some more. smaller fruits. Also flowering and looking healthier are the courgettes, but we have had enough for this year so the animals are the ones who will benefit if they produce any more. The tomatoes are looking really sad, with the fruits also splitting from so much rain, but they are showing a small flush of flowers so there may be some autumn fruits to come. There are still enough to keep us in fresh and sauced for now. The sweet potatoes are also putting on new growth, throwing out glossy leaves. I am told they are good to eat, but we have other stuff so I will leave them for now. The chard is also enjoying the damp...had a lovely chard and goat's cheese tart today.
|Our largest squash...split the whole length|
|Rhubarb come alive...should be able to get through the winter now|
|Courgette flower...a few more of these and we have a new use for goat's cheese|
|Fresh bronze growth on the sweet potatoes|
|Oh dear....split tomatoes|
|We are suddenly getting masses of raspberries, the rain came just in time to save them|
And the beans...well, twice I have been ready to pull them out, but all three varieties of climbing bean have come back to life, masses of flowers forming and given good conditions we might just get some more pods, same with the peppers, they had all but stopped producing but have masses of flower buds.
|Climbing French bean...cobra|
|Runner bean white lady|
|Runner bean achievement|
|Masses of buds on the peppers|
As I have mentioned before, I have been wanting to get some seeds in and was running out of time. But as soon as Dave could work the ground he rotovated, taking out the strawberry plants and incorporating compost from the heap, laying weed suppressant fabric and re-planting the plants, to be followed by more from the market when they become available. So, despite the neigbours' disapproval we have sown carrots, beets and peas. (And yes, I know carrots don't like freshly manured beds but we are going for taste not beauty) In a trough we have started lettuce seeds which will over winter, radish, parsley. I hope the weather plays ball and we can show our neighbours that you can grow something besides cabbage and leeks at this time of the year.
|....and covered. The lonely plant, we are told, is a black grape so we will allow that to grow next year.|
What are past helping are the caulis, romanesco, broccoli and kale which are from spring sowings. They can all go into the animal pen and will keep them happy for a few weeks. We did have some sprouting broccoli today with lunch (at least, I think it was broccoli) but it was strongly flavoured and tough. The more recently planted plants are looking OK now they have had rain and have had to be fenced against Tilly, who is inclined to stop off for a munch as Dave tries to get both goats through the garden to the gate for a walk!
|I think I will call these greens...no idea what they are supposed to be, but taste full of goodness! And some rather small peppers|
|Oh dear oh dear, poor caulis....|
|....and romanesco. Happy animals.|
|Strawberry popcorn, given a cob by a friend to try. The cobs we have harvested a three times the size of the original and look a lot healthier than my 'regular' sweetcorn did|
In the flower garden scabious and veronica have both started on another round of flowers, as have the zinnias and dahlias. The bees will be happy, the sunflowers have finished so opefully these will help. The nicotiana were cut back before the rains and are also producing a new flush. We have picked the cornel fruits and it's looking good for next year...the flowers are already forming ready for spring and plenty of them.
|Pretty shield bug (?) on the faded echinops|
|Scabious come to life|
|As has Veronica. This has been flowering since spring|
|Another shield bug on a seed head|
|Cornels for the neighbour's rakia|
Out and about, where there were many storks in the fields, on nests and fishing in the river (it seems to have been a good year) they have thinned out dramatically as the young are now old enough to make their way to the winter haunts in Africa. We are seeing a lot of buzzards hunting in the fields, as well as hare and jackal, but the ploughs will soon be out to bury the stubble and sow over wintering crops so they will all be more difficult to pick out against the brown earth. Many trees are looking sick, with crispy brown leaves, but it's surprising how much better most of them look after a wash.
Of course, with damp, humid weather comes a new batch of flies...and biting ones at that. Being one of those who are intolerant of their venom I am now covered in red lumps once again as I get back into the garden. Out on the roads it seems the young swallows are following the tarmac catching flies, but they are not yet road savvy and there seem to be many pathetic little corpses littering the roads, often accompanied by another live swallow. So sad.
Back home the poultry are looking a lot less stressed, though our beautiful boy Sevi is looking a bit rough. This may be due to a bad moult which might have sapped his strength. I am hoping he will pick up now he is feeling cooler. He is eating and drinking so fingers crossed. The youngest chicks are really growing now, hopefully they are too big to be of interest to the English neighbours' cats, two of their four have had to be chased off. Our new boy seems to have a new healthy respect for all things fowl and keeps out of the way. Ducky is still being a pain and we have advertised for a new home for him but have had to put a price on him....we haven't raised him to be a free meal for anyone! We are still getting one or two eggs a day from the ducks despite all the hassle, and the hen's production is picking up. One poor soul laid a huge double yolker (98g as opposed to the usual 65g ish) That must have hurt! The three amigos are still running riot and at least one of them is croaking. I think there might be three boys, I hope I am wrong!
Been a bit busy in the kitchen. Made more honey cake and gave a small, two person size to the neighbours to try. We were all at the cafe yesterday and she was telling her friends about the lovely honey cake....she had shared it between five people! I should have realised, most stuff is shared with or given to the daughter's family. I have also done some pickled carrots with what were left in the ground splitting, in honey mustard flavour. We tried some and they are really nice, very moreish, but the mustard hasn't had time to develop the flavour yet and I found them a bit sharp. Dave said they were sweet! We had some added to some braised cabbage and they were very nice, still crunchy despite me leaving them in the waterbath for an hour too long when bottling them,
|New for me...I started up a sourdough starter. I am keen to try sourdough and at least I won't have to worry about running out of yeast|
|Honey cake, the neighbour's cake on the left, and we had one the same size with Bird's custard (not enough eggs)|
|Very nearly the last of the gnarly carrots|
|Eight jars of honey mustard pickled carrots|
I have also used some honey to sweeten the latest round of cordial. The grapes which hang over the path and which have ripened first were clouting us on the head because the weight was dragging the vine and wire down. So I decided the neighbour could spare them and brought a crate in for juice. Some had whitecurrants added, some blackcurrants (trying to make space in the freezer) and just enough honey to sweeten the juice. A short while in the waterbath to help with preservation and we have enough juice to last till next year...though I still have some blackcurrants, I am keeping them until some of the other juices are used, blackcurrant being everyone's favourite and it goes so fast. I have a bottle for the neighbours, but they will have to be warned it is not as sweet as the last lot...I think nicer, lighter, but they have such a sweet tooth....but no doubt the family will appreciate it.
|A whole crateful from just the small stretch over the path|
|With blackcurrants to the left, whitecurrants to the right|
|Very refreshing, just add iced water...|
We have been practicing with goat's cheese. It's amazing what you can do with basic soft cheese. We hade the tart mentioned earlier, which was just chard, a couple of eggs and garlic and pepper cheese, lovely. Then we had slmon ravioli wit ricotta, a casserole of our veggies and chive butter....plain with chutney....halloumi, love that fried...our first mozzarella, lovely on garlic bread with cauli cheese....
|Salmon and ricotta, who knew pasta was so easy? One salmon fillet is plenty for two|
|Casserole of our own veg|
|Our first mozzarella, needs a bit of tweaking but not a bad attempt|
|Goes well on garlic bread|
Now....must find a use for kilos of gooseberries......and quinces....and hopefully medlars.....and walnuts.....ooo-er, thought I was winding down for the year
Finally, a couple of pictures of our local hoopoe, taken on the lane. Lovely birds.