Well, they say there´s no rest for the wicked, and no sooner was I back home than I was out digging up chilli plants and other sad looking vegetables. It´s been a fantastic year for the chillies, I have grown five varieties, although I don´t know really what they´re called. Long chillies, medium chillies in red and yellow, round chillies and tiny ones which are probably cayenne. Anyway, it´s a lot of chillies.
This is about two thirds of the crop, the rest have already been pickled, frozen, dried or made into sweet chilli dipping sauce. Check out this amazing recipe from Natalie at Cook Eat Live Vegetarian. I´m also going to try Fati´s recipe here later this week.
I spent a happy couple of hours putting my sewing skills to use in rather a different way. Using strong cotton thread and my own special patented (!) stitch, I strung a couple of hundred chillies up to dry in the sun. If the weather turns bad, I´ll hang them up in the shed where it´s nice and dry.
When we moved to the house three and a half years ago we planted our lemon three which this year finally took off and started producing lemons. It´s gone a little mad now but we´ve been advised not to prune it until May.
Fortunately we now have lemons which have very kindly decided to turn yellow.
And new flowers every new moon.
Then, just to take us by surprise, although I think it knew its days were numbered, our Bougainvillea finally decided to stop looking like a dead twig and make our garden look Mediterranean.
So the roses decided to join in.
The garden seems to think it´s spring, so “shhhh” don´t say a word and for goodness sake don´t tell it it´s really autumn.
It´s the end of May and we only got round to planting out all those little plant plugs on 21st May, shame on us. We´re usually at least a few weeks earlier, but never mind. The weather seems to be turning to summer, and I took a little look around this morning to see how things were doing. Five days on, and I couldn´t believe my eyes. Fortunately things catch up quickly here and I know, at least if the weather stays fine, we´ll be eating most of what we´re growing now into November.
The runner beans seem to be growing a few cm each day. Luckily we have plenty of canes for them. We had to put down some slug pellets, not really in keeping with our organic aims, but there seems to be a plague of slugs and snails this year.
The broad beans are still in full production, the freezer is also well stocked for when they do die off in a few weeks.
We´re very excited about our potatoes as we´ve never grown them before. Big Man was reluctant as they do take up a fair amount of space. However, they´re drying out now and will be ready to dig up soon, then once we´ve dug over the soil and given it whatever (organic) feed it needs, we´re going to put other things in. I have seeds for dwarf runner beans (including some very funky yellow ones, which I´m quite excited about). We´ll definitely put some radishes in as they grow so quickly, and then some lettuces as choices here in the shops locally are mainly limited to lettuce hearts or iceberg.
Last year a neighbour gave us some little cucumber plants which he had grown from seeds of his previous year´s crop. They went crazy and we had loads of delicious little cucumbers all summer long. We took his advice and saved the seeds from one cucumber which we let grow fat and sad looking. We planted them 5 days ago, and despite Big Man being convinced that nothing would come of them, this morning we found lots of little sprouts…we´re so proud!
Our artichokes continue to flourish, but we will put some new plants in this year as the current ones are now three years old and getting tired.
Our tomatoes, peppers and aubergines have taken root well.
Big Man hates aubergines (or eggplants) with a passion. I, on the other hand, adore them. Sometimes I sneak them into dishes without telling him and he cant always tell. I love Melanzane Alla Parmigiana, and make this as a treat all to myself so we have planted a little row of them to keep me happy.
And our lovely little lemon tree seems to have found its pace and keeps us supplied with juicy fruit for squeezing over grilled meats, making dressings and slicing into our “sun downers”.
And just to prove that it´s not all about veggies, here´s a gratuitous shot of one of our roses…
So in 2016 I turned 50. I was in Italy for my 21st, 30th and 40th. To keep this birthday tradition going I always knew I'd be in Italy for my 50! This blog starts with my 5 week adventure in Puglia but my love affair with Italy continues.....