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Monday, 5 October 2015

Getting ready for winter

We have had a spell of wet weather followed by decent days but pretty cold nights. All around Bulgaria fires are being lit for the first time and chimneys and flues checked and replaced. We have not had a fire yet but the flue and 'radiator' section have been replaces as they are so cheap. We have taken the flat sheets off the bed and replaced them with a lightweight duvet. Some time this month we will sort out clothes, put any summer lightweights away and find the jeans and jumpers. And the middleweight duvet....just in case. I doubt Dave will put his shorts away just yet!


The animals have noticed the difference. Bonnie's breathing is better and she is having more moments of playfulness, she hasn't enjoyed the heat this year. The cats have decided they are now lap cats. Difficult for me as computer and Spud don't fit well onto one lap. Dave has his computer on a little table so Charlie's OK, though he is inclined to want Bonnie's chair if Dave gets up and knows that if he jumps on there she will get off and leave him a nice warm place to kip.

In the garden we are continuing to get runner beans and they are lovely, just like the early summer ones. The tomatoes have nearly finished, the courgette too, there is only small piece of anaemic looking plant left but it still produces the odd fruit. We are hoping to bring the squash in this week which is hard because that means we will have to sacrifice some small unripe ones. And they are still setting. The peppers and chillis. on close inspection, have loads of fruits which will all perish if we get low temperatures, though we are keeping an eye on the forecast and after threatening us with close to freezing, the next three weeks' low night temperatures are now given as above 5c..we will keep a check. But there is nothing we can do really, just leave stuff and hope. The kale is producing well too and that can stay until Angel comes in with the tractor, then the other plants we planted later will be ready to harvest.
And still we eat good, fresh food. The 'sprots' are gone wrong romanesco, delicious


The chillis are taking their time going red, but we will peobably take a couple of plants in at the end of the month

Tuscan kale, still giving us plenty of tender leaves
The sweet potatoes have taken off!

But we are still not sure if there are any usable tubers
Hmmmm, snails on the leeks...but the little ladybird....what is it after?

Twin butternuts

In the top bed the few strawberry plants we have are growing well. We are looking out for new plants in the market but they are elusive. Might try and get some in the UK when we go if we can't get any. In the same bed the leeks are still growing (very tasty they are) and the beets and carrots, the brassicas are doing well and the garlic is now planted. We need to get onions and lettuce in soon and move the blackcurrans and gooseberries which need more space. We are down to three rhubarb plants but that's plenty, we don't eat much. We have just had a flush of new stalks for freezing though.
Dave tried to ask for half a kilo of onion sets in the market...but things got a bit muddled and he ended up with rather more! All for just over a quid. I have already given some away and there will be more to give with still enough to plant some now and some in spring. Not doing too many to over winter as we lost so many when they went to seed this year

Work station....

With hangers on. Dave on walnuts (at Tesco prices, already over 50 quid's worth in the freezer) and I was splitting our garlic, some to plant and some to freeze in case of emergencies....they don't beg for mine!

Our supervisor knows the warmest places

The bees are still busy, and other insects. I know Dave is itching to tidy the flower beds but now even the zinnias are flowering well again. As long as the flowers are there the bees can feed and the better they will be prepared if we have a harsh winter. As you work around the garden there always seems to be the croak of a toad coming from somewhere, the joy of having 'cottage style' planting means there is plenty of shelter for these gardener's friends. Great for slug and fly control. Probably happy in our garden as they do not get sprayed!
It's aster season and bees, wasps and hoverflies are going mad for them


We have also taken delivery of half a lamb which will give Dave a change from chicken and pork over winter. It was Dave's first try at cutting up a carcass, it should have been set aside for a couple of days but we had nowhere to put it as the cellar was too warm, all sheds spoken for and bedroom also warm during the day. So it was still too fresh and wobbly (and it has to be said...warm..) for a first go, but we aren't going to be giving any gourmet dinner parties and when in Bulgaria....where most meat is hacked up and stewed, we are in good company. There are, at least, a couple of good joints for an occasion, mini racks and some stewing meat for casseroles and hotpots, the breast chopped up for slow stews on the bone too. The belly fat (not much) was rendered down and after any meat taken off, the lardy bit put away for the birds in winter and the crispy other bits cut into strips for 'special occasion' dog treats. Enough! If only my butcher brother was closer.....ugh!

As autumn sets in the small animals and reptiles, as well as our toad friends, are thinking about holing up for the winter. We don't see many snakes so don't notice when they are not about, and despite everyone else saying they have lizards, we never see them in the garden, probably because there is so much cover. There are still some crickets chirruping at night, and of course we get our chatty toads. But we don't think this chap Dave came across on his goat walk looks in great codition. He was lively enough and Dave chivvied him off the lane and into an empty garden so hopefully he will find somewhere for winter.

So now I am off to take the worker a coffee and to sit and enjoy a really warm afternoon in the sun. Who mentioned winter?

17 comments:

  1. My veggie garden is starting to come to a close, there is still plenty to harvest, Broccoli and Kale are ready, the squashes have just about finished I have some sitting curing in the greenhouse, the courgettes have finished a few tomatoes are left still it will be nice to move on to different veg :-)

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    1. It' always great to get the first of the season, when you stuff yourself silly till you can't bear any more and start looking for what's next...and the cycle continues. I think summer cabbage is a bit of an oddity here, but we still like a cabbage or two. Freshly steamed. With butter. Not chopped up in stew. haha

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  2. You must be breathing a sigh of relief that your temps have come down! Still plenty to eat from the garden which is great and flowers too. Hope you don't get any frosts yet. I am trying to use up my spinach so I picked what seemed like absolutely loads which I've curried up but of course it isn't that much when cooked down! And I've tons of coriander so I've been making a chicken curry which is cooked in a green sauce made with tons of coriander. It's all this veg picking, washing and chopping which takes the time! Must get on with some more walnut cracking. Hedgehog is cute but in my (limited) experience when you see them out and about during daylight they are usually not well. :-(

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    1. You're right Mandy, he was quite light too. But he had some food and at least he was away from the road. No RSPCA type thing around here though and we have no facilities to keep him over winter. He might just have been old, who knows?

      We thought the weather was set mild all month, but as ever they change the forecast by the day. We were going to leave the squash a while but now I think I might cut my losses and bring them closer to the house. Also need to bring in the lemon grass though I have no idea what I might use it for!There are events coming up which makes decision making complicated as you will find out soon.

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    2. I have a lemon grass too which I shall bring indoors for the winter. Years back when I had a greenhouse briefly I grew some plants and they grew really quickly, but I couldn't find any info on the net about how to harvest them, other than get them out of the pot and hack off the shoots at the base (root level). Mine were not big enough at one year old for a bulbous base like the ones you get from Asian stores.

      Well I thought I'd have another go with my old seed and one germinated. I will leave it a couple of years and then see if I can divide it into two plants and then I should be able to harvest some of it. You can use it any Thai type dish - soup or stir fries and it imparts a wonderful flavour. Just look up recipes on the web. :-) And now I am intrigued about your last sentence......

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    3. I'm going to be seeing my friend who has the nursery tomorrow and will try to remember to ask him how hardy the lemon grass is here in Bulgaria. We will have to move it whatever we do as we didn't realise how big it grows and it's near the front of the pool area. If he says it's hardy I might split it and pot half. We took some offshoots of the other one and planted them but they are sitting there looking sad. It is easy to harvest...just pull some off! This will give you an idea https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vewoypnijlQ but I grew mine in some rough ground and it is a younger plant. The one I harvested earlier is languishing in the freezer. I like spiced/herb tea at night in winter so plan to use some there.

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    4. It's not hardy at all being a tropical plant. It doesn't survive the Breton winter so won't survive yours! Will check out the link, thanks.

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    5. Yes, you're right. Spoke to my friend and he said to get it in the freezer and save a couple of bits with good root, pot it, chop it and wait and see. But he is giving me new plants for next year. After all that I had better start using it!

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  3. We don't seem to have had much of a summer here and the late sunshine has been replaced by rain and more rain so I've been stuck in today when I really should be down on my plot planting garlic and preparing the beds for winter. Oh well.

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  4. You can only do what you can Kath. We have been threatened with more rain and it has suddenly gone chilly, the forecast is changing by the day but we are hoping we will be up to date by the time our UK visit comes around. I just hope the gloomy chap who said snow is on the way is wrong!

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  5. Love Daves tshirt! Ha ha, best wishes Michele from Somerset

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  6. One of my cherished items that holds many memories. I got the tee shirt from Uganda when I went to Ngamba Chimpanzee Sanctuary to give a lecture on quarantine and record management when I worked at Chester Zoo, Sadly it has started to fall apart after 4 years.

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  7. Shame. You will have to include it in a memory quilt when you can no longer wear it, something to snuggle under in the winter. I grew up close to the monkey sanctuary in Dorset and have very happy memories of visiting there as a child, then taking my children. I am now a grandma and have a granddaughter to take. Many years ago my cousin who was studying neuro science was lucky enough to spend time there studying the behaviour of the chimps. You must have some wonderful memories. Best wishes to you both Michele

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  8. Now that we have had a bit of rain our garden is perking up and I actually planted some peas which have sprouted (well some have) so I hope to be able to post about putting peas in the freezer come January time... then I won't feel quite so bad every time I read about your amazing garden. We are also starting to think about winter as the nights get colder... but we are not likely to get your kind of cold, all the same there are always chores to be done get the plants ready.

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    1. Amazing how rain can do what watering can't. Things I miss are summer lettuce and spinach (they bolt) and peas, which if you don't get enough in early soon run out, successional planting doesn't work, it gets too hot suddenly and in autumn, gets cold too quickly. There are alternatives but you get a bit set in your ways. So it's not all success in the garden!

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  9. If you had room in your freezer put your lamb in for about one hour. It helps to firm it and easier to cut

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    1. Didn't think of that! We had arranged for someone to keep it for a couple of days then show Dave how to sort it out, but got crossed wires and he brought it home. We even know a butcher who would have helped, it was just rather short notice. Next year will be different!

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