Thursday, 25 April 2013

Drip drip drip

French beans on the left, tomatoes and cucumbers on line.

Yesterday Mark and I measured up the garden for pipe for the irrigation system. We went up to Nicos for main pipe, holey pipe , taps etc and installed the first two pipes.
I planted three greek tomatoes and three cucumbers and the next in will be gardener`s delight, a tall cherry tomato.
On the other pipe on that bed will be tigerella, a bush tomato which has red and orange stripy fruit. At the end of both pipes I am going to plant yellow and green courgettes.
I turned the water on and sure enough, drip drip.
It should make my life a bit easier as at the moment it takes about an hour and a half to water the flower garden, all the plants in the green house and the vegetable garden.
I still have a hose for plants like parsley , spinach, carrots etc but it is easily swapped with the drip irrigation , so much easier.
I was really surprised at the cost, the whole system cost 35  Euros which I thought was pretty good.

Monday, 22 April 2013

Garden group visit Lesley


A bed at the front of the terrace
We had a very nice visit to Lesley and Reg`s garden and although some people couldn`t make it we have picked up a few new people which is lovely.
Lesley runs a hobby nursery and sells some great pelargoniums, osteospurnums, marguerites and other plants.
She sells them at very reasonable prices to cover the cost of pots, peat and water and it is nice to be able to look at her garden to see large specimens of the plant you have bought.
The planting all around the terrace at the front of the house is particularly nice, full and with lots of colour.
Lesley also has two small plots for vegetables and at the moment she has loads of broad beans and has started planting out her tomatoes.
I came home with a lovely dark maroon pelargonium and a "bird of paradise" bush which is tiny at the moment but will, I hope, be as great as Lesley`s tree one day.

The terrace


Sunday, 21 April 2013

Bonnie is seriously annoyed

Bonnie is very fed up, she sees Merkel being fed up to four times a day and getting made a fuss of whenever she shows up.
Merkel lay on the wall beside me while I was podding broad beans and Bonnie was glowering at her from the other side of the kitchen door.
When I went back in she was demanding cuddles from Mark.

Sulky Bonnie
I can`t tell you how many kittens there are but the latest news is that Merkel has moved in to an olive tree that stands in my flower garden and she doesn`t seem to mind that we know she is there.
Unfortunately the very small hole she is squeezing in to is too far off the ground to see into.
Tomorrow while she is eating I will get the ladder and try and look but I have no idea how deep the hole is. That is of course if she is still there.

The latest kitten home

Friday, 19 April 2013

A spy in the olive grove

I have been a little distracted from gardening by the on going saga of Merkel and her kittens. We had the big upset of her moving them from the store to an olive tree and then we discovered that there were only four when there had been five.
To our dismay we found that they were no longer in the tree near the back of the house and Merkel was howling in a miserable way by the steps near where they had been. We thought the worst but Merkel kept appearing for food too often to not be feeding so I followed her back down into the lower olive grove, tiptoing through the long grass and hiding behind olive trees all the way. Anyone watching from the road would have thought I had lost my marbles and I did get the giggles at one point.
Eventually , Merkel leapt up into a tree and disappeared down a hole head first. The hole must be five foot or more above ground so it must have been tough getting kittens up there.
Once I had marked the tree in my mind , I followed her again after her next meal and she swiped a tom cat that was sitting at the base of the tree and jumped in again. A tom cat is apparently the most likely creature to have killed the missing kitten.
This afternoon Merkel visited about fifteen trees around the land looking at holes so I should think she is about to move the kittens again.
I hope it is somewhere we can at least see that they are alright and see how many she has left.

On the gardening side,  I have started to dig in the manure I got from Pandelis. Fantastic stuff, rich, crumbly and no smell.
I think we will be starting to plant summer vegetables very soon as it is a warmer Spring than last year.

I have painted the top of the table we have on the roof terrace and we bought a couple of plastic chairs we can leave out there. It is a lovely spot for a morning coffee or a beer in the evening.
I bought a climbing, trailing geranium and a Mandevilla to go out there and will add to them as my cuttings grow.

Mandevilla or Brazilian Jasmine

Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Shrubs and seedlings

I have had an exhausting couple of days. Yesterday I dug a new bed on the other side of the low wall of the flower garden. I wanted to plant the bottlebrush and a choisya there and plant out some of the plants I have grown from seed.
It was really hard going as I think people have chucked stone over the wall for years and years and I just had to keep digging them up. Buckets full have already been removed and there are loads more in the soil.
I have had to put chicken wire over the bed for a week or so, the chickens love newly turned soil and the plants need to grow a bit before I can take it off.

New bed
The terrace is looking lovely at the moment, the geraniums are looking good and the lilac is beautiful.

Today I potted on the chillis, all Filios`s different tomatoes and the sweet peppers so the grow house is full again.
This afternoon I strimmed all round the church which was quite hard going as the clover and plants are still quite soft and damp.

On the Merkel, the cat, front we are forever busy. She is constantly hungry and leaves her babies to come and sit at the door waiting for food. Sadly one kitten is gone, I have no idea what happened to it as I know it was there when she moved them to the tree. She has four now and seems to be a good mum, we will see how many survive.

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Sow what?

Today I sowed more beetroot and radishes and transplanted some lettuces. The dwarf french beans are doing well and we still have spinach, onions, carrots and a huge amount of broad beans. I will have to have a freezing session for the broad beans this week.
I weeded the flower garden and potted up a lot of geranium cuttings that had rooted. I pricked out the nicotiana and chilli peppers.
If I have enough geraniums I will put some on the roof terrace above the store. I must paint the table we have out there and we want to find a couple of chairs we can leave out .
I have five passiflora incarnuta seedlings up now so I am hoping I can get at least one to make a decent plant. The toughest thing here is getting anything through the heat of mid summer.
I weeded around the olive tree at the end of the terrace and planted out some arabis in cracks of soil around it.The damn chickens have scratched out the soil and plants and scattered them everywhere. I must buy some chicken wire to cover new plantings or I will lose the lot.



Friday, 12 April 2013

Baby talk

The proud mum

I went to bed early last night as I was exhausted from gardening in the sun and got up at about 11.00 for a drink.
Merkel was at the kitchen window making a very strange noise. I went down thinking she just wanted more food but she wasn`t interested so I put the light on in the store room and sat on the chair next to her box. She immediately jumped in and wanted stroking so I stroked her and talked to her for about ten minutes and by then it was obvious she was in labour.
Mark brought me out some socks as I was in my nightie, jeans and a fleece and I stayed with her until 12.30 . By then she had three kittens and seemed very happy licking them and pushing them around. It was pretty obvious there were going to be some more  kittens but I went in to bed and found five this morning.
One is black and white, one is tabby and white,one is like Merkel with more black, there is a dark one with , I think , a tabby face and one is white and very pale apricot, the colour of a pale golen retriever. I don`t know if ginger kittens get darker with age or whether it will stay that colour.
I don`t know about Merkel but I feel very tired today and I am not doing very much hard work, maybe just a little potting on.

A tangle of kittens

Very pale ginger one at the bottom

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Busy, busy.

Yesterday I dug all the new part of the vegetable garden and took out all the perennial weeds. It was exhausting but all the beds are marked out in line with the old ones and I have space for the squash and pumpkins.
First, Mark and Filios had to get out the stump of a palm tree that had been in the middle of one of the beds. This meant hacking at it with a pick axe, horrible stuff, like slightly soggy , hard coconut. Luckily the roots weren`t as deep as I thought they would be and it did come out, great effort from them both.

New beds

Area for squash and pumpkins under the lemon tree
I just have to dig in four big bags of horse manure and dig over the beds when the spinach and broad beans are finished and I will be ready to plant the summer vegetables.
I have planted out eighteen dwarf french bean plants which seem to be doing well.
This morning I used the strimmer to clear the terrace below the house and amongst all the lilacs which look much better now they are clear. I also cleared the area up to the compost heap as it was knee deep in clover and weeds.
I potted on some of the tomatoes I am growing for Filios and sowed the squash and pumpkins and some basil.
Quite a few of the cuttings I took from Heather`s garden have rooted so I potted them on and planted out some nolana.
I am having to water every evening at the moment so I will be glad when I sort out the irrigation system for the summer and then I will only have the flower garden, pots and along the terrace to water with the hose.

The lilacs after strimming

Mark and I ended the day with our first evening beer at "the brown chairs" where Thassos made us some nice ham and cheese toasties (free) to go with our beer and peanuts. It was lovely watching people going by on a sunny evening and thinking that it won`t be long until there are lots of people here.

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

No rest for the wicked

Mark and I extended the vegetable garden by about 100 sq feet today which will give me more room for summer vegetables and I want to plant some pumpkins which take up a lot of room.
I started digging it over, not as hard as I thought because we have had some rain so the ground was softer.
Tomorrow I will keep on digging and Mark and I are going to try to get the stump of a dead palm tree out.
I think that may be quite hard work although the roots don`t appear to go down very deep.
Pandelis, our lovely log man brought me four sacks of horse and mule manure which I have to dig in. He keeps his animals at the top of Mt. Palouki and Filios said it is the best manure.

The extended vegetable garden

When I went back to the house for some water I found all three animals taking their afternoon nap, Merkel is absolutely enormous and every day we say she can`t go much longer.


Ileanos by the growhouse

Bonnie on the kitchen floor
Mark wasn`t napping but upstairs reading, I must be very wicked!

Monday, 8 April 2013

Spring Sunday

There are many signs that Spring is definately here, although it is quite chilly with rain for the next couple of days. The lilacs are coming in to flower, I can leave the grow house open and many of the flower seed trays are outside.
I will be planting out my dwarf beans at the end of the week and have already planted out some arctotis and californian poppies.
Filios and I had the dubious pleasure of getting the chicken manure out of the "chicken palace". The smell was dreadful but we filled two dustbins and a couple of sacks which we have to leave to dry and use next season.
Filios pruned a couple of olive branches that overhung my flower garden and we pruned the "angelika" and the oleander. What the greeks call angelika is I am sure pittosporum tobira.

pittosporum tobira

The early rain we had brought huge quantities of orange dust from the Sahara and all the plants and terrace were covered in it. It has washed away now.

On another subject, this is my latest blanket and I am eagerly waiting for a huge shipment of wool as I have had a commission for a king size blanket from Australia. Ok, it is from my son but I am really looking forward to starting it!

Sunday, 7 April 2013

The garden group visit to Britta

We went out to Potami to Britta`s house which is on a sloping site that used to be a plum farm so there are many varieties of plums and other fruit trees.
Britta and Philip have extended the original kalivi and Britta has some lovely plants in front of her shaded terrace and down the side of the house. She has calla lilies, succulents and a huge rosemary bush. with a small herb garden and lots of pots.
I brought home cuttings of santolina, a succulent with yellow flowers and a lovely blue, grey succulent. I will have to do some research to find out what they are.
Britta is very knowledgeable about Horta ( wild greens) so we wandered around the land to see some of it.
Greek people gather it in the Spring and boil it. We saw wild carrots, dill, a kind of dandelion and mediterranean cabbage. I find Horta very bitter but lots of people love it.
There were lots of clumps of wild garlic and a small white flower which some of the group said was star of bethlehem and others that it was false garlic.
Britta and Philip have also made a shady, cool picnic area under the shade of pines at the top of their land, a very nice place to be on a hot day.
All in all, a very nice visit to a very quiet, peaceful place on a hot morning, lovely.

In front of shaded terrace

Some of the land and fruit trees

Britta`s herb area     

Friday, 5 April 2013

Bits and pieces


New Pelargonium

When I opened the grow house this morning I was horrified to see yellow mottling on a lot of the seedlings so I took a tomato plant up to Nikos.  He sold ,me what I think, is Bordeaux mixture, certainly a copper sulphate powder any way. I mixed it up and sprayed it on and I am hoping for the best.
I went on line to see what else it could be and it is possible I over watered the plants, I just pray it isn`t mosaic virus or they will all have to be destroyed.
While I was at Nikos`s shop I bought a lovely pelargonium like the one pictured above and I have planted it in one of the deep blue ceramic planters I brought out from England.
Mark drilled holes in a dustbin and I have moved it up to the compost heap to put fairly well rotted compost in. I hope to speed  up  the composting as I will need it very soon.
While turning the heap I uncovered a rat`s nest and  four tiny rats ended up in the dustbin. I was a baby and .Mark had to deal with them. Fortunately they had died by the time he arrived.
Filios, the landlord ( he has given me permission to use his name) gave me a whole load of sugar snap peas and I needed to use some up so I made a soup with chopped up peas, leeks, potato, white beans, garlic and stock and then put it through the processor. It was very nice and I made a mint cream to go in it. Chopped mint wilted in boiling water and squeezed out then mixed in to double cream.
I have taken out my sugar snap peas and dug over the bed . I put back the wire netting on canes as I am planting the sweet potato vines there.
Merkel, the cat is waddling about still but she is sleeping a lot and surely it can`t be much longer until she has her kittens.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

Fun with the hortikoptiko

Yesterday we went to Nikos`s shop and bought the much longed for hortikoptiko or strimmer. I have wanted one for a year as everything grows so quickly  and paths are needed around the house and down to the car.
It is the start of the tick season and keeping the grass short gives us a better chance of not coming in with unwelcome visitors.
I strimmed a path up to the washing line and under it and a path up to the steps to the house and another one down to the car the other side of the house.
I couldn`t possibly do all the land , there is so much of it and it still looks lovely with all the wild flowers so it can wait until the landlord starts to clean the land.
I can keep it down around the house and maybe the noise will put the snakes off a bit. I don`t mind them really but they do make me jump.
I can also clear the area where we are going to put the tent if we get any visitors this year, I am hoping to have a dry run with the tent soon to see how easy it is to put up and take down.
I have strimmed all round the fence of the vegetable garden and Mark and I are going to move the fence out a couple of metres which will give me more vegetable garden and a place to plant the pumpkins and butternut squash. They will need quite a lot of room to spread and I will probably plant the courgettes there as well which will give me more room for tomatoes etc.

Me clearing the steps with my new hortikoptiko

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Population explosion

I potted up all the gardener`s delight tomatoes and the tumbler tomatoes I am hoping to put in tubs on the pillars on the terrace.
The landlord gave me 4 packets of about 7-8 seeds each last week of different varieties of tomatoes."big tomato"," rouge de marmande ", "tasty red" and "bernard something" , I couldn`t read the label.
 I was getting a little worried that nothing was coming up but this morning I noticed seedlings in two of them.
I also pricked out a tray of penstemmon which I will have to grow on until autumn and then plant out.
I was delighted to see two seedlings of passiflora incarnata in a pot in the kitchen this morning, I have waited two months for them to come up.
The french beans and arctotis I am leaving out at night now and I am hoping for no cold nights. I want to put the beans in the ground next week but I will keep some bottle cloches handy just in case.
The growhouse is full up now and I still have chilli peppers and bell peppers to pot on.
Maybe I could put a shelf along the back, we`ll see.

passiflora incarnata

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

English Easter Monday

partly cleared bed with spinach

ridiculously tall broad beans covered in pods
 A really beautiful morning spent clearing old beds in the vegetable garden and digging over. I picked two handfuls of sugar snap peas which I will probably use with some broccolli and carrots and pork in a stir fry tomorrow.
I weeded the wall behind the wisteria in the vegetable garden. The wisteria is very old and I am trying to get it more productive. In fact, some of last years new shoots do have flowers coming which is great.

In the afternoon we drove over to Heather and Neil`s house to see the wisteria and jasmine as they are now in full flower.The wisteria covers a pergola overlooking the sea and the jasmine is the red budded one and is the best I have ever seen.
Sadly, wisteria doesn`t last very long, heavy rain or strong wind and it is over. It is so beautiful it doesn`t matter, a real sign of late spring.

The jasmine

wisteria over pergola

On the way home we stopped on the road so I could take some cuttings from a huge ballota .I hope they take as the soft, pale green is so pretty amongst other flowers and is very drought proof.