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Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Much needed rain

Here in mid Bulgaria we have had too much rain but not dangerously so, unlike the coast who have had red flood warnings again. With the rain and cooler temperatures everything is turning green...apart from the trees which turned prematurely brown during the drought. The garden, especially the weeds, has gone emerald...and flowery much to the delight of the insects. Roses are enjoying a new flush in the cooler weather, our amazing dahlias are loving it, despite being 'pruned' by the goats in passing. Tomatoes are swelling again, beans are growing, butternuts...well I hope they don't swell too much again and split. I would love to see if there is anything under the sweet potatoes but if not, I will be claiming some from our friend who got his plants from us, put them in a polytunnel with his tomatoes, and claims he has a bumper crop. Hmph. Meanwhile I have given up hope of prize leek specimens and have started to use them from the garden. We will leave them in till the end of October as the weather is looking settled from the middle of this week. The cabbages, who suffered from heat and flea beetle, have started hearting up. Of course the neighbour's cabbage plot looks like a show bench. Never mind, we'll catch up. Most of the summer cauli and broccoli plants have gone to the goats now but there are some winter ones in...just in case. We might get some sprouts before the frost turns them to mush. The sprouts have sproutlets forming and the kale is still going strong, as is celery and chard.

The buzzards are easier to see on dead branches

The fields are going green with rape and winter wheat

Lots of flowers with insects









Dave came home with a buddlea after I was coveting on at the wedding, covered in butterflies. Roll on next year!
This leek doesn't look too bad...but to be hones the board is very small
Bunched herbs for drying...just in case
I thought the rhubarb has finished and planned on leaving the last half dozen leaves on each, but it's taken off again.

The beets and carrots are doing OK amongst the weeds...honest!

Land cress coming alive, a nice peppery addition to soups and salads
Sproutlets complete with aphids...job for tomorrow

Hearting up.....Naughty snail bottom left

As soon as it's dry we will be putting in some perpetual spinach, onion sets and garlic to over winter, as well as a couple of types of lettuce, and iceberg and a butterhead. Maybe even some red... The perpetual spinach is a new try, a variety you can use in salads or cooking.

Still managing plenty of nice salads with the ricotta, this time with radish leaves, pickled carrots, peas, figs, walnuts and tomatoes, and honey mustard dressing

Yordan has at last taken the grapes. the three vines yielded four plastic crates of fruit so he is happy with that. Once it's dry enough new, stronger posts can be put in in case we have another decent crop another year. I used some of the ones I dried in a fruit cake the other day and several of us thought it was OK! Wish I'd done more now.

So, with the rain comes another problem....animals! Not really a major problem, but the dogs come in with the very sticky mud we have and spend their days sprawled out wherever you happen to be. I am forever tripping over them, they are rather large to be flat out in the kitchen. The cats have decided it's knee time and Spud is usually curled up on my knee (or spread out on my chair if I move) and Charlie on Dave's. If Dave is not available he claims Bonnie's chair...or more accurately the warmth of Bonnie's snoring body, but she will soon move off bless her. Bella switches between wanting to join in with cats playing to pretending to be terrified if she feels a claw. Charlie has discovered where we all go at night and has claimed a spot on the bed...which means Spud sleeps on a blanket on the floor...one day they might share. Once the fire is going they might stay downstairs, we can but hope.
We thought we had cured Bella of this when we got the new chairs

Out in the paddock the goats are very put out at the rain...they don't like getting wet! So they stay in while it's damp...but the rain might bring down walnuts and if they hear one fall they forget and charge out to get it. I didn't realise they ate the nuts whole, I just thought our's were later than everyone else's. So that is another job for Dave , before he lets the goats out he picks up walnuts.
Fresh, juicy walnuts
Yum..walnut and Cheshire cheese (yes really!) bread
Walnuts in waiting

There have been changes to the chickens. I'm afraid the three amigos, who all turned out to be boys, have had to go to freezer heaven. I was hoping to keep one as I like the sound of a cockerel, but they were all giving the poor hens a hard time. the ex-batts have had a hard enough life without having three strapping teenagers landing en masse to claim their rights as men. Two of them were really bad and the rumpless one, after a very rough duffing up of the hen, would stand on her and look around, not letting her get up till he felt like getting off. He was also attacking the ducks. A thoroughly unlikable chap. The white one was also rough and growing quite big, and the one I wanted to keep (stupidly naming him Sonny...Son of Sevi) was chivvying the hens too. We considered keeping him in the hope that he might calm down and be more like his gentleman father, but given that so many of his sons had doubtful temperaments and the fact that the girls weren't keen, well.... Now peace has descended, and we wait with bated breath to see if any of the three smaller chicks start crowing. They don't have 'proper' combs like the others so it's harder to tell, but one definitely looks as if it has rounded neck feathers so possibly a girl. You can't tell with the other two, one is fluffy and one is white speckly.

We went to the last of one of the car boot sales on Sunday. We had stopped going to this one as there is an entrance fee and diesel costs for a longer drive plus we never sell much there, but as it was the last one we thought we'd go along. We should have stayed at home (except it's nice to catch up with friends) as the weather was totally miserable, heavy with drizzle. One more to go, closer this time, and hopefully we will get rid of some of the chutney and free up some space in the store cupboard...and I have a couple of orders from people panicking that they might run out over winter, even though they are Facebook friends and can always ask.

Other than that all is quiet. We went out to a do one evening as it was the birthday of the friend who was best man at the wedding and he paid for food and drinks at the bar. He very kindly ordered a vegetarian plate for me as the pizza and plates of cold meats and cheese are not really suitable for veggies, and I was a bit embarrassed when I not only got veggie pizza but a plate of tomatoes, cucumber, cheese and cheesy potatoes. Luckily there were plenty of people to help me out!
My embarassing plate of food.

So it's back to mostly basic cooking now, which means when I get bored I start to make those comforting meals to warm us up....all the weight lost over summer will return and the cycle begins....
Soup time, lots of variations on our garden veg 

Tried the caramel popcorn...Oh yum

We had visitors one day, one of whom used to bake, and I managed to stink the house out scorching the bread...not once, but twice....

...and not one, but two pancake cakes (now names biscakes)

And my seeds came today....wonder what I can sow now......
Now, you wouldn't think I would need any more....but I still haven't got sweetcorn, squash, pea or flower seeds

Two varieties of tomato to try. The one on the left is great and I have saved some seed (Can't remember the name) but the Black Russian I will not be growing, it's OK but quite acidic and I already grow an acidic tomato

12 comments:

  1. We have had rain too... which is soooo welcome... and I sowed peas yesterday so they are getting a very good watering in. I think you did the right thing re the cockerels, we had to make a similar unpleasant decision, although we still have two cockerels which we have separated and each has its own harem - but I don't think we want to let any of the hens go broody again. Its hard when the chicks turn out to be boys!

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    1. We are thinking the same, I am happy to give ex-batts a retirement home rather than mess around with chicks, but Cagney is one of those sit-tight-I-don't-even-want-to-come-out-to-eat types and feisty with it so it will be a challenge to stop her being broody. We will try all the tricks though. I was watching the three oddments today (we got them from the market when her last lot failed) and I'm not convinced any are female. It's so hard to tell with rose combs.

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  2. such a lovely post, you have a lovely variety of veg and those walnuts looks delicious, the seed packets look great so pretty :-)

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    1. Thank you. Yes, fresh nuts are totally different to those you buy in the shops.

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  3. Great post again, the walnuts look really yummy, nice and fresh. Perpetual spinach is a good veg to have along with kale. Good luck with your new seeds, plenty of work for the coming months then. Good idea for the grapes, dry them for the cakes etc. Do you do much drying of your produce? Have heard how baddly the cost was hit by the storms, I know they had a Red warning but can't find much out. We are over there in 3 wks time to look at properties. Rosemary

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    1. Most gardens have walnuts, they are very prized here and no occasion or celebration is complete without them somewhere...Dave was even handed a couple by an old Baba who he always says hello to the other day, bless her, made his day even though he didn't understand why.
      I dry a bit, usually do some onions for any time we might need them if we can't get out (still got some from last year) and use the ones we know will not keep well. Same with garlic, when it stops looking really plump and juicy I dry a load for soups and stews, then we know we always have some. Apart from that, tomatoes and melons are good, dried melon makes a great sweet snack.
      It seems that flooding on the coast is not unusual, but the amount there was last year is. There are not usually so many deaths from flooding as last year. Also around Plovdiv seems bad, the other side of the mountains to us.

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    2. Most gardens have walnuts, they are very prized here and no occasion or celebration is complete without them somewhere...Dave was even handed a couple by an old Baba who he always says hello to the other day, bless her, made his day even though he didn't understand why.
      I dry a bit, usually do some onions for any time we might need them if we can't get out (still got some from last year) and use the ones we know will not keep well. Same with garlic, when it stops looking really plump and juicy I dry a load for soups and stews, then we know we always have some. Apart from that, tomatoes and melons are good, dried melon makes a great sweet snack.
      It seems that flooding on the coast is not unusual, but the amount there was last year is. There are not usually so many deaths from flooding as last year. Also around Plovdiv seems bad, the other side of the mountains to us.

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  4. Still looks like plenty of food there! How can you waste Cheshire cheese in bread though, that is sacrilege..... unless you can buy it in Bulgaria!! We have some English crumbly cheese in the freezer and just eat it as is, yum. I can see how really wet your soil gets but even when you have high temps and no rain it's amazing how you can still grow celery. I tried once and even though I watered it every single day by the end of the season it was about 4 inches tall and bitter. :-( It's not easy to find decent celery here either as it's usually bitter or hollow and fluffy inside the stems, or just left to go all floppy in amongst the other veg as it's not put in a chiller. It's another thing we bring back from England along with cheese!

    Shame about the 3 Amigos but better to have peace and quiet and happy (other) fowl. Dave will enjoy them, anyway. And thanks for the reminder about the walnuts, which I've been shelling and munching this morning - going out to pick some more soon. Love 'em! :-)

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    1. The Cheshire cheese came from Lidl when they were doing some sort of promotion and frozen. Trouble is it is a bit too crumbly once frozen. The bread is almost a meal in itself and l have been known to have a couple of slices for breakfast as it needs no butter. Will be stocking up on our first trip to the UK next month.
      l have two celery varieties, a Bulgarian one from the market which is strictly for cooking, and a British variety which is doing much better. They are in a ditch where water runs off a roof, close to a north facing wall so gets whatever shade there is. You can get celery in the German supermarkets so l don't really need to grow it, but just wanted to try. lf it does OK l will give some to the neighbour and she can show it to her friends.

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    2. On the rare occasion that Lidl have an English promotion, they only have cheddar as far as cheese goes. We have been known to buy about 5kg of it though - it's far cheaper than getting cheddar in the supermarkets, and at Lidl cheaper than most French cheeses too! :-)

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  5. The garden flowers look absolutely beautiful! Walnuts are my fave, I'm very jealous! I like adding them to Dorset apple cake type recipe!

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    1. Thank you Janet. Yes walnuts are great and the early ones are amazing. They are a very versatile nut and great protein for us veggies. But I love almonds too. Don't know anyone with a tree now though, the only one I knew got cut down!

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