Sweet peas

We’ve picked and eaten our first harvest of peas. That means that the hungry gap – the time between our last meal of broccoli and these delicious sweet little things – was just two weeks long. Hopefully, with a bit more organisation and a polytunnel next year we can reduce it to nothing . . . and that’s a wonderful thought!

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The first broad beans will be on this week’s menu, too. These plants have been incredible: they have thickened into bushes rather than grow upwards and have been flowering for months and months, the garden is still full of their scent. They are covered in pods and we will eat the first ones whole; they make a delicious vegetable cooked that way and there will be no shortage of bigger beans to pod in the coming weeks.

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Everything is growing so quickly now. The dwarf borlotti beans I planted a couple of weeks ago were up within three days.

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The potatoes have come through quickly considering we didn’t even bother chitting them.

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There is a haze of carrot seedlings which is such good news, we had real problems with them not germinating last year.

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I’ve been holding off planting tender plants in the garden but some of them had reached a stage where they would be better off in the ground. The aubergines (three ‘Bonica’ and five ‘De Almagro’ seem pretty happy on their new terrace.

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I’ve planted five courgettes where the muck heap was so they shouldn’t look back once they get their roots down into that gorgeousness. Three are ‘Costata Romanesco’, a vining variety which produces pretty fluted slices, and the other two are a mystery! I was given a packet of ‘BBQ Mixed’ seed containing three British varieties: ‘Safari’, ‘British Summertime’ and ‘Sunstripe’. The problem was that they were all mixed together in the packet so it was lucky dip as to what I planted, plus germination was pretty poor (two out of six) so only time will tell what we have. Still five plants should be more than enough.

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Tomatoes are going to be one of our most interesting challenges this year and having started out with plans to grow masses of plants, more sensible thinking (aka Roger) has prevailed. There is a very good chance we will lose them all to blight so better to lose a few plants than a forest. We can’t plant them in the ground, that much is certain, so we are planting them up in pots of sterile compost which we will have to feed well. Our neighbours all grow theirs in shady hidden away sorts of places where they (fingers crossed) won’t be exposed to the blight spores through contact with the soil or misty rain, so we are taking a leaf out of their book. We will try them in different spots about the place and see what happens: the first three to go out in the Great Tomato Trial are the luxurious ‘Sungold.’ Please, please, please be alright!

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Rain – or, at least, a distinct lack of it – is starting to be a real problem. A couple of hours’ gentle drizzle several days ago did little more than dampen the surface of the soil, and I don’t suppose we are the only ones hoping the forecast for more next week is right: the sound of helicopters fighting forest fires is becoming almost as normal as cowbells here.

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We have held off watering the garden as long as possible but it had reached the point where it became necessary to give it a good soaking last night; thankfully, we have a private water supply from a mountain spring which is just right for the job. Quite honestly,  I think it’s time to consider a rain dance.

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Something that doesn’t seem to mind the dry weather is my borage ‘tree’, a self-set plant that has grown to epic proportions in the salad patch. I’ve never quite seen anything like it, it’s enormous, and attracting quite a high proportion of the local honey bee population.

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Away from the garden, I’m starting to enjoy our little jaunts to the supermarket that involve exploring the area en route. This week we headed further west than ever before, into Galicia and a stretch of coastline famous for its geological wonders. We started at Praia dos Castros.

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Given that we had left our Asturian mountain stronghold in gorgeous sunshine it was a shame to descend into the gloom of that annoying sort of cloud that hugs the coastline. Still, I quite liked the different atmosphere it created and the moodiness of the sea seemed fitting around the amazing rock formations. This beach was every bit as fascinating as the ones we explored a couple of weeks ago yet different in so many ways. Nature has created exquisite rock gardens on the clifftops.

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The rock formations are fascinating.

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DSCF0752.JPGThe beach was covered with huge flat stones, sea-washed and smooth; Roger had a bit of an Obelix moment, wishing he had a ready supply like this for his wall-building!

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Further along the coast, we set out with the intention of walking along the coast path from Playa de Esteiro to Praia das Catedrais (Beach of the Cathedrals) famed for its incredible ‘sea architecture.’ Unfortunately we didn’t quite make it as we suddenly found ourselves in a crowd of people. Naturally, the beach is a huge attraction and people were there literally by the coach load. Now we have a very ‘live and let live’ attitude – who can blame everyone wanting to be there?- but we are not herd animals and we’ve been really spoilt so far by having the beaches we’ve visited pretty much to ourselves. (Also, I have to admit I was a bit worried at the number of ladies teetering on the edge of the cliff in incredibly high heels to take selfies . . .)

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We decided that this was a beach to come back to out of season; actually, in bracing winter weather I think it will be even more spectacular and I love the coast when it’s wild like that, anyway.

So, onward and literally just round the corner to Praia Arealonga, a kilometre of golden sand . . . and not a single person on it! This was definitely more our style and one we had planned into the day for a run on the flat. Apart from a few aimless gulls, some little plovers poking about on the tideline and swallows skimming the surf we had the whole beach to ourselves for an hour or so. Bliss . . . even if I did have to run!

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Home again, and a couple of little beauties to share. First, this deliciously scented bloom : what a come-back that lemon tree is making!

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I know I’ve already posted pictures of this rose but it just keeps getting more spectacular by the day and we keep wondering if it can possibly have any more flowers on it. It is completely gorgeous.

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Roses, peas, another new terrace, plants planted, a trip to the beach, a few more miles run: not a bad week, all things considered . . . now if we could just have a good dollop of rain. Pleeeeeeeease? 🙂

 

 

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4 thoughts on “Sweet peas

  1. Look at the size of those broad beans! And borage. Our self-seeded borage is just at the one true leaf stage. We’ve had three pea pods so far from the greenhouse, how delicious to have them already. You really won’t have any hungry gap next year. I’ll swap you some rain for a bit of warmth – not that we’ve been having frosts or anything, but things could be warming up a little.

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  2. Sounds like some rain would be much needed!! Fingers crossed that those forest fires don’t come any closer, they sound scary. Our aubergines are still tucked up on a windowsill inside, we haven’t got a huge amount of anything in the ground yet, but we had a frost yesterday morning which we weren’t expecting so that’s probably not a bad thing. No rain though, we’ve had to water some of our new plants to help them establish but it’s nowhere near as warm as with you. The garden is looking fab – we can’t wait to come out and enjoy the sunshine 🙂

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  3. Sounds like a good weather swap to me! It’s amazing what a difference that warmth makes, I’m still not used to it and felt nervous of planting the tender things out this early although all our neighbours are doing the same which is the best indicator. I am in huge trouble with Roger over the borage, it’s spreading up the lane . . .but then it does grow wild here and it is such a great nectar plant . . . 🙂

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  4. Aaaargh – frosts at this time of year are a real pest, we had many years of running around covering potatoes up with plant pots to protect them overnight. Your aubergines are definitely safer tucked up inside! We had another huge fire here today, the whole valley was filled with smoke until this evening. The sooner it rains, the better . . . but we’ll try and arrange non-stop sunshine for your visit! 🙂

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