Archive for Gardening

August Rain & Village Politics

About bloody time. Thursday we had the first rain fall for 6 weeks and my vegtable patch certainly needed it. I can now take a few days off from the daily hose work. My only fear is that due to the down pour the cucumbers may well start up again, just as I finished picking the last lot.

The tempreature has also dropped to quite a pleasant 25C instead of the very hot 35C, this is my first day in long trousers this month, and the first night when
I haven’t woken up in a sweat!

The food production this year has met and exceeded all targets so even if the global economy completely blows up I shall not be hungry this year, I have even had to invest in some more jars as I have filled over 100 jars with tomatoes, carrots and pickles, as well as strung 400 onions and dried 15kg of beans. The ‘domashno’ which will be ‘stilled’ into rakis has about 20 days of fermenting to
go and I live in a tobacco growing area of Bulgaria. So should I so wish I have beer, cigarettes, food. Without spending a penny and without giving a penny
to those nice people in the tax office! The best thing is it is actually not as much work as you would think, and you really don’t need that much space to grow it either. I have sown a second crop of french beans, have winter cabbages just beginning to set, as well as broccoli, and leeks to provide a bit of fresh veg throughout the winter. I should point out that I am in no way a garden expert and three years ago I was a complete novice, I still have too many weeds.

Coming up next month is the election of the village mayor, why in fact does a village of 300 residents need an elected mayor?   I think this is just a fall
back to communist era party political overlord in every village. So everyone knows though, politics in Bulgarian villages, is just as corrupt as national
and european politics. Our current ‘Kimet’ who has won the last four election, held a meeting to put forward candidates for the post, basically behind close doors and only invited people who were going to vote for him. The outcome, our up coming election (of which I shall not be taking part) will have one candidate. Democracy works!

Water Melons & Big Bang

A strange mix I know, for those that don’t know 1-29 Aug is Ramadan, which I suppose for some parts of London with its
new ‘Sharia’ Law means no eating and drinking whilst the sun is up! Makes me laugh. As I live in a Muslim village, am good friends with the Imam, and this
month whilst he is doing his evening shift I am next door in the pub having a beer! The other night whlst I was rehydrating and those partaking in Ramadan
were waiting for the allocated time to start there evensong, we were all sat in the pub and a documentary about ‘Mecca’ is on the telly, so I explain that as I am not a
Muslim I am not allowed to go there (I think thats right), to which the rest of the crowd thinks this is quite unfair. Hikmet advises me to grow a beard and
they probably won’t ask too many questions. The conversation then switches to visiting the ‘Vatican’, I tell them that I am not sure what the rules are there
but since I am not a ‘Christian’ either I would probably be not to welcome. Now most people in the village know that I don’t believe in unicorn’s, dragons, or Harry Potter,
but were under the presumption that everyone from England (Apart from London) was at least some strand of Christianity. So when I explain that I have studied Physics,
so believe more in the scientific method of empirical evidence and such this causes some interest. I try my best to expalin ‘Big Bang Theory’, and Einsteins
‘General Theory of Relativity’. This is quite difficult after a few beers, none of the Maths just the thought experiments. To which I usually get “Ah, but
what was there before ‘Big Bang’. Now you try explaining in Bulgarian, to Turkish people, that if Einstein is ‘correct’ in that if space = time and time = space
then if space =0, it follows that time =0 and there can be no before. Took me 3 years in University, and I had 10 minutes before the service started!

On to more important things ‘Water Melons’. If the only time you have eaten these things is from ‘every little helps’ you have missed out on a real treat in life. If you do buy them
from supermarkets, the trick is to buy the smallest one they have, the huge beachball size fuits are all water and no melon. The ones in my garden I allow to get no bigger than 15cm
in diameter. The difference in the taste is amazing, they can be as sweet as honey dew melons, and nearly as refreshing as a cold beer on a hot sunny day.

Here is one of the first ones I have picked this year, next to a mug for scale.

Unfortunately if you live in the UK, you will have to wait for global warming to get a move on before you will be able to grow these or else invest in a poly tunnel
or some those magic hydroponic light systems, they take up loads of space, need really rich soil, and plenty of water. They are when eaten stright from the garden
worth every effort though.

Silly Season

OK I give up, just look at this…

Cucumber Mountain North Face

This mornings harvest

I went out in all innocence this morning, was glad to pick a few ripe tomatoes then slowly edged my way to the cucumber plot. I am starting
to get suspicous at the rate of growth of the damn things.

I also got to pick the first nectarines on the tree I planted two years ago, there really is nothing nicer than fruit picked straight from the
tree, I took the picture before I picked them for good reason as I had eaten them before I got back inside.



I have caused a storm with ladies of the village, they all look on in envy at my onion stringing ability! The traditional way here is to put them
in sacks as you would potatoes, so now everyone is coming around to see what the silly english is doing with his onions.

Onions on String

Just wait until they try my beetroot & curry chutney!

Gourd’n Bennet

The ‘EU’ cucumber mountain, I have realised could all be the fault of a few allotment gardeners in Bristol. I have mentioned before
that I have have planted too many this year, about 20 plants in all. Half of those though are the gerkin variety to make into pickles. So after the recent
3 days of heavy rain I have today managed to get out into the garden and see what has been happening whilst I have been reading books
and watching the lightening.

Todays Cucumbers

Todays cucumbers (3 days growth)

Admittidley, I may have missed one or two the last time I checked, but picking 20 cucumbers every 3 days just seems wrong. I can’t even give the damn things away
as all my neighbours are equally up to their eyes in them as well.

I was in the pub last night (I know again), and when asked what I had been upto for the day, I explained that I had been pickling beetroot. Unfortunately beetroot
has never made it on to the list of words to be learnt. So after much anitmation, and describing them as red/purple carrot/parsnip things thought the best way was to go and get a jar.
On my arrival then of a jar a bright purple freshly pickled beetroot, and saying the Bulgarian equivalent of “Tadaaa!”, the confusion become even more intense.
I for one thought that all ex-communist countries eat nothing but cabbage and beetroot throughout the cold war. No name could be given to my jar of pickles so I have
had to look it up. Now where is my esxcuse for going to the pub to learn some new words!(for those interested its ‘chveklo’ – and sugar beet is ‘zahar chveklo’)

The ‘idiot’ Englishman is at it again. Not only does he grow trees in pots so they stay small, sunflowers where you can’t eat the seeds, he now has some pumkins that I wouldn’t feed to my
cow because – they look nice (Its a bloody pumkin). Or at least that is what I translate when I explain to everyone that I am growing some ornamental gourds, and they roll their eyes at me and smile.

Gourds Look Nice but taste crap

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

They do agree though that my lillies are worth growing even though they are in flower for only a week.

Pink Lily

My internet after singing its praises for the last 4 months has for the last 10 days been utter crap so if you are listening M-Tel (VodafoneBG) pull your finger out
and get me off this dial-up rubbish!

Is It Me?

I have just read an article on why people are fat, on the BBC website, now these boffins have collected data over a 30 year period and they claim,
get this, that the main reason people are overweight and obese is because….

and I quote:

“for those trying to control their weight, it is important to manage both how much and how often they eat.”

The text in bold is my emphasis. But that is right, fat people eat too often, and too much. Well stone me. No big bones,
underactive thyroid, genetic dispostion. ‘Oi Fatty – you eat too much’.

Anway if you want a laugh at how your tax money pays for research grants in this,
the full report from the BBC can be found here.

When I went back to the UK with Bulgarian neighbours, they could not believe how fat some people are in the UK. Don’t get me wrong there are fat
people here but the UK has well a larger portion of fat people.

I can’t wait for the next study,

Research has just shown that the abundance of very skinny African people has been blamed at them not eating enough.

Right far more importantly, my banana seeds have started to sprout, and their infamy has already caused them to have two visitors to check them out. If
I ever get them to the size where banana’s are actually growing on them I think I will have to open a theme park.

One of my Bananas from seed

This is an Ensente Venticosum, which in normal language is a Giant Abyssinian Banana and can grow to 14m in height! We shall see.

On to the cucumber conundrum. How many cucumber plants should you grow? I am still quite a novice and it can be quite difficult to know how many of anything to grow.
Last year I didn’t have enough (only 4 plants) this year I have about 20 dotted around the vegetable patch and at the moment I am up to my ears in the damn things. I have
pickled a few jars, but I am also growing a special variety of gherkins just for this purpose as well. So if anyone out there (without being rude) knows what else I can do
with cucmbers I shall start I thread on the forum. Free packet of banana seeds for the best idea.

My Gherkins

Todays crop of Gherkins!

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