May has arrived and we’ve had the first thunder storms of the season. We have been really thankful for the rain, the downside is that along with the rain comes the weeds. If only our vegetables grew as fast as the weeds! With the rain comes the mud, but fortunately our paths are holding out under the deluge and we’re managing to stay relatively mud-free. (Btw, muddy in Bulgarian is slang for testicles!)
We missed out last year growing a feed crop for the animals at our other house and were determined not to miss out this year, but first of all the weeds needed to be got under control. The only way this was going to be accomplished was with a little help. We normally hand-weed everywhere but the ground at the other house had got so out of control we strimmed it then got a man in with a rotavator to dig over the main patch, while me and Ramsia hand-weeded the flower areas, strawberries, paths and vine area. Even just doing these small areas took us two days. We have now planted the main area with a crop of sunflowers and put some spare tomato plants and brassicas in there. I harvested some sunflower seed from a random sunflower 2 years ago so we took a chance and planted about 400 square meters of them, luckily they are starting to grow, just hope they survive the summer. Yesterday we found our first Colorado beetle on our potatoes so we will have to stay vigilant and keep checking for them.
We are really pleased with the way our vegetables are going and we are managing to keep on top of the weeding here. We are harvesting, lettuce, radishes and spring onions and had our first strawberries and cherries. The fruit trees are laden with fruit, a bit too much fruit. We had planted our cauliflowers and brussel sprouts so that they would be shaded from the sun by our greengage plum tree. Unfortunately we got up one morning to find one of the main branches had snapped off and typically it was the one we were relying on to provide the shade. But things have a way of working out, I was walking along the lane and someone had left some off-cuts of bamboo screening by the skip, these quickly got a new home straight into my wheel barrow and are now providing the much need shade for our brassicas. They are growing well and seem to be joying the shade from the sun.
We are still eating vegetables that we grew last year and hopefully more of this years vegetables will be ready before we run out. The only vegetable we have bought so far this year has been a couple of packs of mushrooms, I know mushrooms aren’t technically a vegetable but you know what I mean :-). We haven’t had any volunteers yet this year, if we had we would have run out of our own vegetables before now so we still need to do better this year so we have excess for if people are staying with us, saying that we are still very pleased we managed to grow enough to feed ourselves.
The floor is now down ready for the workshop to be built on top of it. We’ve laid a cement slab with footings all around, ready to take the weight of the huge laminated beams that we are now building to support the mezzanine floor, which will be used for timber storage.
We have made the decision not to restock our bee hives this year. There’s a couple of reasons for this, the winter took it’s toll on the hives in this area so there are not many bees around and also we are forecast a very hot dry summer again ( just like last year ) so there is a possibility the hives won’t be able to get big and strong enough to survive if we have another hard winter.
May saw the arrival of some friends we knew in the UK. On their last visit here (over a year ago) they bought a house in the village and have now finally come to live here. They were a bit late in coming to get some crops in so prior to their arrival we planted some vegetables for them and arranged to get their vines cut and cleared out a couple of rooms so they had somewhere to put their belongings when they get here.
A group of us went to the local sheep fair for a day out, Joe didn’t come, and I think I showed great restraint by only buying some goats cheese, a chopping board and some venison sausage. There were loads of really nice craft stalls but until the house is closer to being finished I resisted the urge to buy anything for the house.
Since the weather has been so nice ( between thunderstorms ) we employed the A team ( Vic and Aydan ) to do some work on our ridge tiles, they have now reset all the ones at the other house and the ones on our animal buildings have all been cemented in place. I find it really funny watching them work, Vic only speaks in English and Aydan in Bulgarian, I’m really not sure how much they understand of what the other is saying but they manage to get the job done :-). The only roof that hasn’t had any attention yet is our main house roof, but that is water proof and is going to be a major undertaking so that can wait.