Spring sprung

Not long after writing my last post I found myself boarding a plane heading back to the UK, 6 weeks later I managed to arrive back home in Bulgaria. I don’t plan on jetting off anywhere any-time soon, I have spent far too much time in airports in the last 6 months. So with being away for so long we found ourselves way behind schedule for this year. But all was not lost and all though a lot of our planting in the vegetable garden has been a bit late all of the seeds are now in. That’s one of the advantages of being in Bulgaria, we have such a long growing season so all though we probably won’t get as big a harvest as we might have done but we should get something.

Just before I left we had started work on a walkway down to the chicken run. By the time I got back this had been tiled and the gutters fitted and the new path to the chicken run was completed. The 3 IBCs were also in place on their new base. The idea of the walkway and new path was to try and reduce the amount of mud we seem to be endlessly paddling around in when we are feeding or putting the birds to bed and it is working great. Even the chickens are enjoying the added shelter from the rain.

One of our projects for this year was to get our woodland area cleared and planted up. This job couldn’t wait so while I was away Joe enlisted some help and had got the land cleared and planted the first 40 of our trees. Most of these are to be used for firewood in the future but we have also planted some trees that will stay such as Mountain Ash, Japanese White Birch and Szechuan Pepper. As saplings become available we will be adding Hazelnut and currant bushes to the woodland. The trees we have chopped down have been sorted into piles and me and Joe have started to clear these. We have loads of brush which will be chipped for mulch, slightly bigger wood that will be used on site for bonfires or BBQs and the larger wood is being brought back home for fire wood. We also have some acacia that is being used on site for construction, so far it has been used for the fencing and the gateway, the rest will be used to make ourselves a small hut for bird watching and to be used a general shelter. The land is next to a stream and surrounded by overgrown woodland so is and ideal place to watch the local birds and insects.

While I was getting the garden back under control Joe was busy constructing a new compost bin in the chicken run so we have somewhere handy to store all the old bedding and chicken manure when we have cleaned them out. Previously we had just piled it in a heap but we lost a lot of it from the chickens scratching for grubs.

The winter planting experiment has worked really well and we already have beans and pea pods on the plants, they are not ready to harvest yet but it won’t be long before they are ready. We also have a surprising number of ladybirds on the lettuces, a lot more than on the lettuces we planted on their own. Don’t know if this is because they are shaded by the peas and bean plants or whether it’s the peas and beans that are attracting them, but you can never have too many ladybirds.

Spring seems to be taking it’s time getting to Bulgaria this year, before I got back the weather had been nice and sunny and Joe had told me how dry it had been. Well all that changed as soon as I got home, we’ve had the fire on ever night and I’m getting really fed up with the rain especially since it seems like the UK has got all the sun. But there are signs spring is here, the storks are back, we’ve seen our first swallows, heard our first cuckoo and in the evening the nightingales and frogs have returned.

4 years ago we visited the Balkan ecology project in Shipka and we have never got round to going back. But this year we took the time, along with 3 friends, to go to their open day to see how everything was progressing. We were very impressed with how the land had developed and how a once overgrown field is now full of perennial bushes and beds for their vegetables and as after our last visit we came back with renewed enthusiasm and plans for our garden in the future. On the way there we had to go over the Shipka pass and was more than surprised to find it snowing so no nice views from the top. Luckily on the way back home the snow was gone and we all decided to have a walk up to the Shipka monument, 800 steps later we made it. Joe decided he didn’t want to go to the top of the monument so me and one of our friends braved the extra 200 steps to reach the top. The views were well worth the hike up there and braving the freezing wind.

Today the sun has finally arrived! Hooray!

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