Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Building, gardening and struggling with a brown pool

If in years to come you are still reading our blog and I mention that we are moving to a new house again, please all shout together "NOoooooooooooooooo!" It is so much more sensible to buy a resale property, where someone else has already done all the hard work and established the garden for you. We are still plugging away at attempting to sort our garden and frankly we are both exhausted! At the moment all of our time, energy and money is pouring into this project.

David, bless him is soldiering on with building sheds, laying paving and doing the building work. But to free him up to do that it means I am left to cope with pretty well everything else that needs to be done.

I know it is our choice to have four dogs, three cats and a vegetable garden, but when we share the chores it gives us something to do rather than vegetate in the sun and be bored. However, when one of us is taken out of the equation it's hard graft coping. In the mornings we do both share the housework, but then David gets on with the building and I try my best to cope with everything else.

I have been having horrendous problems with our pool. It somehow got a load of sand in it - either airborne or through the filter. But wherever it came from I have had a dreadful problem getting rid of it. When I vacuumed the pool, it came straight back up through the bottom jets, then being dispersed throughout the water, making it look brown and thick. It then takes several days to settle back on the bottom and make the bottom look dirty again!

This has not been good, as in this heat I do swim several times a day, purely to cool down between tasks and I have hated that I have not been able to do that. I have tried everything I can think of  to resolve this problem. I have checked the sand in the filter, tried to shock the water and eventually vacuumed the pool straight out onto the lawn, to prevent it going back in. Of course it then took the best part of a day to refill it. Of course vacuuming  it unsettled some of the sand, and some was resting on the lip at the bottom and the sides of the pool, so I have been in this muddy water with a broom and scrubbed down all of the walls. I then had to wait a few days until the sand that I stirred up doing this had settled on the bottom. This morning I vacuumed it on to the lawn again, topped up the water and finally I have a clean pool again. I am just praying that next time I have to vacuum, it doesn't do the same again. But today at least I have finally been able to swim again for the first time in about three or four weeks.

The vegetable garden has been really productive this year. We have really heavy clay soil here, but over the past year we have mixed in sand and loads of compost and horse manure and the soil has really improved so we are now reaping the benefits with a much better crop this year.

Really good courgette crop this year
I have courgettes growing so fast I don't know what to do with them. Most of them are more marrow size before I need them in the kitchen. As well as eating them as a vegetable, in other dishes and curried, I have searched the Internet for ideas and have made courgette chutney - very nice, and courgette cake - even nicer!

Last year the beetroot was rather sparse, hardly any of the seeds germinated, we just got enough to pickle some. This year I have loads and as well as eating it freshly cooked with salad, I have pickled some and made some beetroot chutney, which is great with cheese.

We've got loads of beetroot this year
We have lots of tomatoes - cherry, normal size and now the plum tomatoes are starting to turn red. There are enough peppers that I am not having to buy any. We also have a ridiculous amount of chilli peppers and although we use them for cooking all the time, I have also dried some and frozen some for winter use. The melons are doing well although none are yet ready to eat. Last year I made melon and ginger jam when we had a glut of melons, and although not to my taste David and visitors staying loved it, so I plan to make some more of that this year too.

Melons are coming along nicely and David is waiting for a jar of melon and ginger jam
Another vegetable that has been particularly successful this year is the okra, we have such a good crop that I have been able to freeze some for the winter. We love them and they are great to have in winter stews and home made soups.

In the rest of the garden, unfortunately the replanted palm trees were not looking too good. We had thought that we would wait through the winter to see if they came back to life. But the dogs decided they would help in the garden and have made the decision for us by digging the first one up! Now that they have done that we can see that they definitely did not survive which is a shame.

Little-E was caught on camera but she was not alone when the deed was done!!
We do have another plant that has been very successful though. Earlier this year I bought a packet of mixed Belle de Nuit seeds, and sowed them in pots before transplanting into the garden. They turned out to be a range of beautiful colours some plants having different coloured flowers on one plant. Known as the four o clock flower, because the flowers open out at night, they look stunning in the early evening, we love them.

The beautiful Belle de Nuit plants yellow, red and yellow and red flowers all on one plant.
David has almost finished the first shed. Finished enough that I have been able to tidy the place up considerably by putting away all the gardening bits and pieces and tools which previously were laying around on the path and under the stairs. In my wisdom, as I want a courtyard garden beyond the shed, I thought it was a good idea to have recesses put on the outside of the shed walls to hold oil lamps to light the path leading to this courtyard garden. Further than that I expected the stone surrounding each one to be cut to an Eastern type shape. Surprisingly David agreed to do this, but it meant buying a disc cutter, which we did. However, half way through cutting the first shape the disc-cutter ground to a halt, so it has now had to be sent off to the service engineers under guarantee, expected return two to three weeks. So that job is half finished and I can't plant the raised beds until they are done.

The first shed for the gardening bits and pieces almost finished bar my recesses
Meanwhile David has put in the foundations of the adjoining two sheds - one to be used as a kennel, the other as a wood store near to the house for the winter. When they are up we can put a gate up and hopefully that will mean goodbye to claggy, clay soil being trodden up constantly from the back garden onto the terrace and into the house.

Footings in for the new kennel and log store and the floors going in now
We have a real problem in the back garden with flooding when it rains, so as we go we are paving the area and putting in raised beds. It is a colossal task, and will take months to complete, doing all the work ourselves. Recently some new people moved into a villa close to us, and they are currently having their garden completely landscaped, with brick weave. The materials were all delivered on articulated lorries and a major team of guys have been working there all week. No doubt their entire garden will be completed in a matter of days. How easy life can be if you have the money!


  1. Think of the satisfaction in knowing you have transformed your garden by yourselves. That is something you can't put a price on :) x

    1. Yes you're right CarolB - priceless. Just wish we could fast track a bit lol!

  2. I agree. Already your reaping the rewards of all your hard work. I'm envious of those lovely fresh veggies.
    Keep at it and it'll be finished before you know it
    Anne x

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement Craftyanny. Yes you're right we love having fresh veggies and I hope you're right about ever finishing the garden lol!x

  3. It all looks great well done.
    p.s beetroot chutney great idea, we have had a very good year with beetroot too in the uk
    all the very best to you, loved reading Fethiye Fogies

    1. Thank you lynda. Yes try beetroot chutney. Mine worked really well and we have it with a strong hard cheese that we have found here that we like - it works really well in sandwiches.