145. How not to be self-sufficient

by | Aug 30, 2017 | Bulgarian life, Gardening bore | 0 comments

It’s weird what we prioritise. We’ve never planned to be truly self-sufficient – we just don’t have the land or time for that – but we’re always looking to cut down what we have to buy from shops. However, rather than being self-sufficient in obvious things like milk, eggs or meat, we’ve prioritised weird shit like pesto, ketchup (or, really, anything tomato), booze (not so weird, am I right?) and herbs (fresh and dried).

Last Monday was our annual Pesto Day, where we cut down our dozens of basil plants and (using our own walnuts, too) make enough pesto to last the whole year. We eat a lot of pesto; soups, salads, pizza, pasta, risotto – a dollop of homemade pesto on top improves it all. That still doesn’t explain why we’ve prioritised making pesto over getting chickens, but there you go.


Just a bit of basil then.


This is a BIG pot.


Pesto freezes really well, so we bag and freeze it. Each bag is a jar’s worth.


And one for the fridge.


We’ve also just made our ritual batches of ketchup and passata, which, again, will last us all year. (It’s definitely worth making your own ketchup if, like me, you balk at the price of Heinz in this country. We use this recipe and double it for a year’s worth.) And I’ve started drying all my own herbs for the winter, in an effort to avoid the dusty old bags of grass that pass for dried herbs here. Plus, there’s plenty of veg put away in the freezer (not just courgettes anymore, thank God), and the first alcolicious batch of cider is bubbling away in the hallway. But still no chickens…


Amazing to think that two adults get through this much ketchup in one year. Anyone
would think we were brushing our teeth with the stuff.


Most of the summer has been really dry and hot, so the garden is looking a bit parched. We’re so stingy with water, I don’t like to water flowers unless they look like they’re going to die (it’s only got to that point once this summer). The veg garden gets a resentful watering every 10 days or so, but only if it hasn’t rained at all in that time. But everything’s hanging on, just about. We’re still picking courgettes, which is impressive considering how abundant they’ve been this year. And we’ve got 16 butternuts ripening on the vines, which makes it our best squash year ever. (We grow our squash upright on trellises, so they’ve never been that productive, but I’ve been pruning the vines this year and it makes such a difference to the yield.)

Sadly, the wonky polytunnel is done for already. We had a storm with hailstones the other week and it ripped the roof open. On the (sort of) plus side, our tomatoes have been so blighty this summer, there are barely any plants left in there. As the tomato overlord in this house, Rob’s very traumatised by the dismal tomato year. As far as I’m concerned, we’ve had plenty in salads, we’ve got a freezer drawer full of passata and I don’t have to pay ridonk money for Heinz ketchup, so it’s all good. He thinks I’m insensitive to his pain.


Sunroof. The latest in wonky polytunnel fashion.


In other news, our wood delivery has just arrived, meaning winter is just around the corner. (What? It is, it’s just around the corner! No, you shut up.) And we’re still spending our spare time trampling off around the Bulgarian countryside in an effort to offset all the food and drink we consume.


Yay, winter!


Yamna waterfall is not much more than a trickle at this time of year.


Walking back from the waterfall.


Climbing up to a nearby peak. Yamna village is below.


These horses charged at us. Actually charged at us. Turned out they just wanted food.


Etropole in the distance.


But still no chickens…


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