Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

Hoping that you all have a great Christmas and wishing you all Health, Wealth, Success and most importantly Happiness for 2008 and beyond xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Tuesday, December 18, 2007


Well yesterday brought our first proper snowfall of the year.The temeratures have been zero and below.

The dogs are loving it...snuffling around in the snow...Vladi here making the most of what drops off the bird table...greedy boy!

Nothing to be done in the garden now but sit and watch it out of the window.....

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Oh it' s getting colder

November has brought our first frost and minus temperatures though only -1 or so in our area of the country.

The pumpkins have been picked and those not ripe have been passed onto those neighbours with a donkey, horse or pig.

The leaves have almost all fallen off the trees and I can't help feeling a little sad to see everything looking so bleak, the garden is really winding down.
Although the garlic and onions planted in October are already beginning to show through and the Strawberry patches are also looking healthy.

I have brought in our Bougainvillea , which has done well this
Summer in it's pot.The info about it says it will withstand - temp but I am not too sure so have brought it in for its first year.

The wine is ready after it's 40 days ...a lovely deep clear dry red should keep us warm this Winter.
The Sloe berries are also ready for picking and adding to the Rakia or Gin along with some sugar to make a great liquor in under 3 months ready for the New Year.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

October comes......

October is here and off we go again in the garden....
The grapes are all picked and the wine fermenting nicely in barrels in the basement.We should have over 200 litres this year almost double that of last.

This week we have been planting out the garlic, onion sets and the lettuce.The garden is looking a bit bleak in areas already.
Although some things are still going strong like the Aubergines, Peppers,Courgettes and Pumpkins this week ahead is supposed to bring our first frost so all of those will go and have to be frozen or cooked up.

The Strawberries have been spit and new beds planted.Our kind neighbour who gave us our first dozen or so plants lost all of hers this Summer in the drought period so it's lovely now for us to be able to replenish her patch with new plants from ours......

Saturday, September 8, 2007


Well it's September and hopefully the seasons have sorted themselves out here at last.

Over the past few days the weather has cooled considerably and along with it the rain has continued to fall.
The garden is really green and luscious and most of the fruit has finally swelled up and is ready for picking.

Today we had our one and only melon from our garden.....yum!

Monday, August 20, 2007

Before and After

About 2 months ago we dug over this area and spread it with grass seed.

The ants came and took lots of it away but after the last rain the grass has really started to come through.

It is still a bit patchy in areas but we cut it for the first time yesterday and I think by next spring we should have some decent coverage.

Monday, August 13, 2007

New lease of life...

Well the rain has done wonders for the garden!
Everything looks refreshed and revived.

The peppers, tomatoes and grapes are all pluming up nicely ...

....even the melons have started again hopefully with more luck this time.

Along with all this comes lots of work too.Everywhere is now covered with a crust of dried soil full of tiny weeds that needs breaking up...well it keeps us fit.

The wind also brought down most of the apples and guess what...we are experimenting with apple wine today.

We have picked and chopped almost 20lbs of apples added 10 litres of water and in 5 days time we will mash and strain and add the sugar.

Again I shall update on it's progress and success although I think this will be more difficult than the cherry wine...which by the way is sadly coming to an end.

Ah well there's always next year.........

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Rainy days.....

Well it has finally started to rain....which is great really but at the moment it does not look like it is going to stop!
We should not complain really but the garden took quite a battering last night and looks a little worse for ware in places but I am sure it will be fine and be better for it as temperatures are set to return to high 30's again by the end of the week.

The tomatoes and peppers held up and today I am busy in doors making pasta sauce for the Winter....which today does not seem that far away.....

Saturday, August 4, 2007


This ornate gourd has really flourished in the semi shade this year producing many little 'fruits'.

One neighbour who originally gave me the seeds last year for fun cut them in half and hollowed them out and used them for drinking their Rakia.

This year I might keep them whole and make into Christmas presents for the neighbours.They will make lovely table decorations with pine cones......maybe ....I take some pics closer to the time......

Thursday, August 2, 2007

It rained!!!!

1st August brought us the first rain in over 7 weeks!!!

It has been a really lovely day and the garden is looking a little more refreshed for it.

The grapes are swelling a little and turning purple.In another few weeks they will be ready for picking for the wine.
The crop this year is larger than last though because of the lack of rain not as full and juicy so we are unsure if we will top the 120 litres we made last year.

Other things too are enjoying the rain.The courgettes are still flowering and producing and the melons are still holding on.....

More rain is forecast this week ahead ...lets hope we get some!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Well what can I say ....

Here is a picture of our potato crop....just goes to show that you don't always have success.There was just enough for both of us to have one meal with!
Ah well... will see how the weather goes and maybe plant some more at the end of August.
Temperatures have remained in the high 30's low 40's and for yet another 2 weeks we have had no rain at all.Everything, including myself, is suffering in this heat.
No amount of watering in the garden seems to be helping and no gardening is being done either.

The grapes are doing very well and the first lot of vines will be ready to pick from in a couple of weeks

Monday, July 9, 2007


We had some very strong winds late last week and as a result most of the apricots fell off the trees.

Our trees are of the late fruiting variety and as a result did again produce a very good crop this year.
Unfortunately most of our neighbours have the early fruiting variety and due to the frosts in April this year have had little to no fruit.

So some early harvesting was required and after 2 days we had them all picked and stoned ready for jam and wine making.

The jam is already made.A simple recipe
5lb fruit simmer for 15 minutes until well broken up...
1.5/2lb sugar
1 small packet pectin.....
make sure all sugar is dissolved and then place into jars.

We are also going to try to make our own chutney this year.I have frozen some apricots until we find the right recipe....
We also managed to give some away to our neighbours...which made for a refreshing change.

Cherry Liquor results.......

We tested the cherry liquor today.

It tastes good rather like a tasty dry red wine than a liquor of any kind...and we think it is around 11/13%.

Would definitely try this again next year!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Onions & Garlic.....

The onions and garlic have all been pulled up this week and have been put in the barn in shade to dry a little before being plaited and stored for the Winter.

We have had a great crop of onions this year and we have already been busy pickling the smaller ones with some with hot chillies again for the Winter.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Temperatures soar!

Well no gardening today as the temperature was set to reach 40 degrees celcius by mid day.
It is now 12.30pm and it is 39 in the shade!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

First Tomatoes......

The first of the tomatoes were ready for picking today.

The results of the spraying have really been inconclusive.The only ones that have suffered, and a few have died, have been the ones that I did not spray with I suppose it proves spaying with something, whether a vinegar or oil and bicab mix, can help in the early stages.

The rest I have stopped spraying now and we will have to see what happens.

These were delicious though...and as always...with no chemicals added!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Morello Cherry Liquor

Mike and I started the cherry picking....and what a crop!

We were amazed at the amount.Here we have over 10 kilos of fruit and there is about another 4 kilos still on the tree.

We will make jam with most of them.
Some of our neighbours like to make juice , so that was a couple of kilos accounted for.

One neighbour has suggested an easy liquor.
If it turns out to be a success I shall post the recipe!

In 30 degree heat and no rain......

This year I am experimenting with some UK seeds again.
Last year most of the seeds from the UK either failed or did very badly against the local varieties.
The courgettes were an unusual success so I am trying again.On the right are UK while on the left are local BG seeds.
Last year, and the same for this, the UK ones fruited a few days earlier however when the heat of the day gets to 30+ they seem to suffer the most.
You can see from these pics here....

UK variety below.....

BG variety holding up better in the heat....

The melons are a little slow in growing this year and will need so much water I shall probably only keep on a couple of plants.I am very late with these.I did plant out in Early May however I think it was so dry that I had not one seedling show.
This time I am trying a shadier spot and watering on alternate days....

The pumpkins are just coming through and later along with the melon seedlings I will thin to 2 plants in each grouping.

Again watering alternate days and keeping the soil around them broken up and slightly piled up.

How they all manage in these temperatures still amazes me!

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Tomato blight

The whole region seems to be suffering from this.
It appears that due to the mild Winter and strange changes in temperature here through the Spring the virus has spread wildly.

Our crop as yet is surviving but I fear its only a matter of time.

I am trying some natural preventatives -

on one patch-
4 litres water, 1 tbsp baking soda, 2 1/2 tbsp veg oil and 1/2 tsp washing up liquid.
I am spraying early morning every 7 days.

on a second patch-
vinegar and water mix

and a control patch with no treatment...
I will update on my progress....wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Cherry picking....

It will soon be time to pick the cherries, another few days and they will have turned a beautiful deep red almost black.

This year the tree has produced about 3 times as much fruit as last year.I think this is mainly due to the fact that this year it has been left totally undisturbed.

Again like everything else in our garden we have not treated it or sprayed it with anything.

The black cherries make excellent jam though take a little extra sugar...


Thursday, May 31, 2007

First harvests....

Here is the garden as it looks today.....

Last year the neighbours had us planting absolutely everything......whether we liked it or not! This year we have grown what we like in large quantities, sensible you might think.
The garden would not be what it is today though had it not been for them.We learnt so much last year from them all, being novices in the garden their help and advice has been, and still is, invaluable.
Now though a little more confident things have moved on and we find we are sharing our hints and tips with them, even though some of them they find rather strange.....

May brought our first harvest of spinach ,peas and strawberries.
I love it here...gardening seems so much so than in the books!
Take this for packet of 200g peas...plant in February...leave for 3 months...harvest 12lbs of peas...that's it!
I like it simple and aim to keep this diary the same way.

Today is strawberry picking again.We have 3 patches and have so far picked over 20lbs of fruit.We use no chemicals or artificial fertilisers on anything we grow.
Most of them we have made into jam, compote and juice to see us through the Winter, which thankfully seems so far away.
Today we pick to give to the neighbours.Its been very dry here and lots of crops have struggled due to the lack of rain.

There is only one problem with giving here in Bulgaria and that it you have to be prepared to receive more than you give...

Strawberries galore!