Already in August, where are the months going? The past month has brought many changes to our “too big” garden. I have spent many long hours weeding and digging, planting and pruning which I have to say is very rewarding!
“When we put the effort into the grounds it reward us with her treasures”
Hungary is a country of Hibiscus. Every village you travel through the verges are lined with pretty hedges of Hibiscus flowers. We have them growing in various places around the garden, I have noticed they self seed very quickly. Severe pruning of ours last spring helped to keep their shape. They seem to come in a variety of pinks and whites, lilacs and purples. I just love them.
I have a constant companion by my side, Haley Husky helping out wherever she feels necessary! Mostly she just hangs around getting under my feet until something catches her eye then off she charges!
There is a tale about these plants. A Hungarian neighbour donated about 12 rather large knobbly tubers! I had no idea what they were but planted them anyway until suddenly they burst into bloom. Such an elegant plant needed identifying, I contacted my English expat friends and they kindly identified it for me. “They are cannas – or canna lily. Can be big or short, pink, yellow, red, green leaves or dark leaves.” I think they are gorgeous and will lift them before winter ready for planting out again in next spring.
I planted this sunflower corner a little later than I usually would. The idea was to create some sort of natural pleasant looking screen to hide the corner and add a little colour. The sunflowers have just started flowering and I am beginning to see it was worth the effort. Haley (the dog) dug up one of the 10 sunflowers, I managed to redig it but did not expect it too survive. I made an attempt at fencing them in to prevent future Haley trouble! I am glad to say little sunflower made it despite being smaller than the rest. A cheerful resilient plant and very easy to grow. This patch will multiply next year as this years seeds drop into the ground.
We have had great crops this year, a variety of different peppers are all ready for picking. This is our first year growing so many peppers. Everytime we bought peppers from the greengrocers last year we gradually saved the seeds of our favourites. We have grown them in a variety of places including a raised flower bed. We added mature cow fertiliser to just this bed in the spring to see how the peppers performed. Extremely good results so plan to add manure again next year. The only issue we had was annoying flies hovering over the pepper bed. Next year we shall choose a different area for the cow manure.
Our sweetcorn have had medium success. Early intervention from a digging dog perhaps affected the future outcome. The corn produced was fat and a good yellow. We decided to plant another late corn patch as we both love it cooked straight from the branch onto the BBQ. We keep the husk on to act like a steamer. Super delicious.
The courgettes were a great success but have realised they need plenty of space to spread out. We had one the size of a marrow which was great for a baked spicy meat stuffed marrow. We were wise to grow only 2 plants, we don’t eat a lot of it but it was something we wanted to grow.
Our only successful apple tree, looking very full of crunchy apples. The other tree did not produce any but looks still very alive. They are not quite ripe enough to pick yet, they would still be a little sour. Maybe another month before harvesting them. Super proud of this little tree.
A little colour in the sunflower garden, created to cover an unsightly corner. The butterfly landed by chance on the sunflower whilst I was looking through the viewfinder. I was very happy. Unusual to see anything but a black centred sunflower so was surprised to see this all over yellow beauty.
We decided to invest in a lawnmower, something petrol driven and not to heavy to handle. We searched everywhere, in the local towns, online, large hardware shops, on the roadside (twice) until we had done sufficient research to buy one. We final brought home this very manageable mower. Raphael our 15 year son excitedly tore himself away from his PS4 to have a “play” with the lawnmower! He said it was “super-easy”….. I am glad he said that because now he has a weekly job!
Wonderful watermelons emerged from the frame Eric had built in the spring. We originally planted 4 but lost one, perhaps just as well because they seem to take up a huge amount of space. Eric has been religiously watering them daily whilst it is so hot. There were lots of flowers opening but not developing any further. Finally we have 2 very healthy melons waiting to be eaten. Never having grown watermelons before we weren’t sure how to tell if they were ripe. I have since found out that you “tap to hear hollow” ….we shall follow this advice.
The Tomato Experiment
Eric watched a Youtube video giving ideas for recycling egg shells. He knew they were full of protein therefore good for plants, we eat lots of eggs generating lots of shells… so thought a little experiment was called for.
Picture 1: One seed in each shell, filled with all purpose potting compost.
Picture 2: Taken today a VERY healthy tomato patch but way too overcrowded and in desperate need of attention.
Picture 3: Eric takes the pruners to the bottom leaves and removes non fruit bearing branches. This allows all the goodness to flow where it is needed most. It also allows light and air to circulate more freely.
Picture 4: We have extended the support poles by adding some spare rubber tubing slotted onto the ends of the white poles. This creates more space going upwards and hopefully more growing stems. Eric spent a long time pruning then tying the stems up.
Up in the main vegetable plot we grew a large amount of tomatoes. Some we were given and some we grew from seed. We also bought from a roadside vendor. I think we had a bit of “lost in translation”, we asked for small tomato plants as in young not as in small tomatoes that we brought home!! We laughed when we saw that one of our beds was full of perfectly ripe miniature tomatoes. We also laughed when we discovered miniature pear shaped tomatoes and round red ones on the same stalk! What’s going on there!
We did manage to several beds of large tomatoes that we cropped and preserved in jars. We mainly use it to make sauces or pasta dishes that require tomatoes. A great staple to have in the country garden kitchen.
Paprika Peppers, Jalapeno Peppers, Wax Peppers (the yellow ones) and other Hungarian varieties. I spent an afternoon preserving the mountains of peppers I had cropped. I wish I had worn gloves, my fingers stung for hours afterwards. I know for next time!
From Bush to Wash to Pickle.
Another new activity for us, preserving our own produce. Research on the internet revealed just how easy it is to can and preserve, pickle and freeze. This jar of pickled hot peppers lives in the fridge and tastes very good with cheese or hams or as a side dish. We have found the longer it stays in the jar the less super spicy it becomes, just a regular hot spice! A good incentive to eat.
The freshly washed peppers on the chopping board are ready to be prepared for another pickling session. I shall choose a different recipe and later compare the two for the best taste and for future preserving.
The elderberries have ripened and are ready for picking if the birds don’t get to them first. I shall be making Elderberry Syrup.
After an exhausting day following me around Haley decides to chill on the grass to get her breath back ready for more mischief!
I have grown super tall sunflowers this year successfully in an old oil barrel. The pretty snails have a liking for the courgette leaves. They do not seem to cause as much damage as the giant slugs.
The last picture is an attempt at growing kiwi fruit. We visited Croatia last year and saw an amazing 30 year old kiwi vine adorning a huge wooden frame. We thought we would have a go growing from seed. Apparently I need a male and a female to be successful. I have 5 on the go but won’t know what sex they are until they flower…then sexing them begins.
I truly love gardening and nothing gives me more pleasure than watching, waiting and seeing Mother Nature do her yearly cycle. My garden is where I choose to spend the most time. I can have quiet time and reflection time and love planning what to do next outside. Gardens are extensions of our homes and act as another “room”. Hungarians are very proud of their gardens and produce some beautiful displays. We are aiming to do the same.