In the veg garden

by | Jul 22, 2022 | Gardening bore | 11 comments

Let’s check in on the veg garden, shall we? Because I realise I’ve hardly mentioned it since April, which is not very Gardening Bore of me at all.

The veg garden, mid-July (click to enlarge.)

It’s been our best year yet for the veg garden. After we expanded it last year to make some extra new beds in front of the greenhouse, we’re able to grow so much more stuff, especially fruit. We’ve had tons of raspberries and strawberries this year. As well as plums and sour cherries from the trees.

But – shock horror – no apples. Not sure what’s up with our old faithful apple tree this year, but it’s devoid of fruit. Not a single apple in sight. At first we thought maybe a late frost had killed off the blossom (we did have some hard frosts in April), but looking at other apple trees around us, they’re smothered in fruits. Maybe ours is just having a year off after providing a big bounty last year, and it’ll be back on good form next year. Pray for us, because it’s our cider-giving tree, and a winter without cider is like … I can’t even come up with a simile, it’s that unimaginable. I suspect we’ll end up getting some apples from elsewhere for this year. Ya girl gotta have her cider.

Back to the veg garden and, my word, it’s gorgeous this year. I’ve never seen it so full and abundant and pretty. We’re really nailing that balance between organised order (which my brain needs) and cottage garden charm (which my eyes appreciate) – we have our neat beds and rows of crops, but intermingled with flowers like nasturtium (we eat the leaves and flowers in salads), poppies (just to look at), calendula (we also eat the petals in salads) and gladioli (which I grow as a cut flower crop in with the veg because Rob finds them a bit ‘much’ in the flower beds). And dill of course, which I let flower and run wild across the beds. It’s the romantic, overblown, blowsy veg garden of my dreams – if that’s not being too dramatic. (Don’t we all have a veg garden of our dreams? No? Just me?)

In terms of new stuff, we grew broad beans for the first time, which were easy and delicious. If only I’d planted double the amount and really packed the bed (looking online at how other people do it, I was allowing far too much space between the plants). We’ll definitely grow them again next year and pack those suckers in to get more beans.

The dwarf green beans have just finished producing. Luckily, I did a second sowing a few weeks ago and those new plants are almost ready to flower, so we’ll have more beans soon. (I almost always mis-time succession sowing by a mile, so this is satisfying.) Although we have loads of space, I like growing dwarf bean plants because they never need staking, they’re easy to harvest and they still produce a decent crop. But I got different seeds for this year and, boy, they were DWARF. The plants were only a foot tall! I wasn’t expecting much from them, but they were amazing. I was able to pick a big bowl of beans every few days. Surprisingly productive little dudes.

We’ve also been harvesting some lovely beetroot and munched our way through most of that bed already. I’ve sown more seeds but they’re struggling in this heat, so whether we’ll get a second crop in September remains to be seen. Hopefully, at the very least we’ll have some beet leaves to eat, even if they don’t produce much of a root.

What else? Courgettes and kale, obviously. Both doing well, as always. (If anyone needs any courgettes…!) Butternut squash coming along nicely (I reckon we’ll have about 25 squashes, all being well). Our asparagus and rhubarb were both splendid in spring.

There were the usual seedling failures – this year, my chillies and basil germinated but refused to grow beyond the seed leaf stage. Weird. But we just went to the market in May and bought a load of plants. Literally, a load. We bought two bunches of chilli seedlings, and it turned out there were 25 plants in each bunch. So we have lots of chillies coming through! (We did a cool thing with some chillies the other weekend – we barbecued them whole to get them nice and charred, then we packed them into a jar and poured over a hot mixture of water, vinegar, sugar and salt, then stored in the fridge. And now we’re enjoying a pickled chilli or two with every meal. Yum!)

And let’s not forget the tomatoes. They’re tardy this year because April was freezing, so they got a bit of a late start. We’ve harvested some cherry tomatoes already, but the bigger boys are still a way off ripening. There’s loads of tomatoes to come – just probably not until August. (This time last year we had so many ripe tomatoes we were already processing them for the winter.) On the plus side, they seem to be loving life in the rustic greenhouse, where they have much more room and airflow than they ever did in the wonky polytunnel. RIP wonky polytunnel, thank you for your service.

Also, we moved most of our houseplants out into the partial shade of the summer kitchen/lounge. And they’re loving their summer holiday. So if you’ve got a (not harshly sunny) corner of your garden, bung your houseplants out there. It feels very glamorous, lounging and drinking a cocktail surrounded by all my green girlies from indoors. Very Princess Margaret in her Caribbean days. You know, if Princess Margaret lived in the same skanky pair of denim shorts, sliders and a Led Zeppelin T-shirt all summer. What can I say, it’s a vibe.

The flower garden is, to be honest, a horror show. We’ve been neglecting it since last summer as that whole area is a bit of a building site – Rob has been digging back into the hill to increase the amount of flat growing space we have, and building a stone retaining wall with steps up onto the hill. That wall is mostly finished now so next spring we can start planting up in front of it, rejuvenating the existing beds and – hopefully – building a nice big wildlife pond. I can’t wait to get stuck into the flower garden next year. Looking at sad, neglected flower beds surrounded by piles of stone and earth got old, oh, about 13 months ago.

So that’s it. Consider yourselves updated on our Gardening Bore antics. At this time of year there’s not much to do out there, other than the odd bit of weeding and watering. We’re mostly spending our spare time lounging in the hammock (which we finally put up, eight years after buying it), cooing over our holidaying houseplants and dreaming of all the future projects to come.

How’s your garden growing?

Veg garden whimsy.


  1. Bobby

    Awww my favorite topic and just a couple of scrawny photos 🙁 Anything less than 20 feels deeply unsatisfying, please do a second post soon enough, thanks 🙂

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      How very slack of me! More to follow in future (although the garden is quickly withering in this heat). Are you on Instagram? I’m always sharing Gardening Bore photos on there…

  2. Rod

    I just can’t get excited about gardening. I would let our plot become a wilderness ( very “eco”, surely ?) except the better half would get tremendously distraught – so two chaps come round every now and again and chop it all down…

    What does interest me is that there is to be a Lidl in Botevgrad, just behind Kaufland (they must be pleased). Now this is progress !

    And an update on the Green House in Pravets – they are very slowly rebuilding and actually extending it. However, the grill over the road is currently putting out some good homely basic meals so that will be a viable alternative when the GH is finally built.

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Well, that’s some good news from Botevgrad and Pravets, thanks. We’re just back from Sinemorets and I’m pleased to say very little has changed there in two years — which is just how I like it!

  3. Katt

    Once again I was in my Bulgarian home to late to get any veg plots started and growing, I’d be really grateful if you could either tell me when to start and plant my veg beds or point me in the right direction to find out this information Auntie, my house is in the Pomorie municipality.

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Hi Katt, I don’t know about Pomorie, but it’s too hot to be planting or sowing anything here at the moment. But there are some things you can plant from late September to November, once the weather cools down, to harvest next year: garlic bulbs (for harvest June-ish), coriander seeds (you’ll get a nice spring crop), broad beans (for harvest late spring/early summer), lettuce (for an early spring crop). If I were you, I’d also buy in herb plants and make a perennial herb bed — you can plant things like rosemary, chives, thyme, sage and oregano in the autumn and they should come back year after year even if you neglect them. Autumn is also a good time for planting fruit trees and taking cuttings of any local roses that you like…

      Then for all the other summer crops (tomatoes, courgettes, kale, whatever), you sow your seeds from late Feb/March, depending on how cold it is. And if you don’t want to sow seeds, just go to your local market in May as there should be loads of young veg plants for sale (tomatoes, chillies, basil, peppers, all that stuff).

      Oh, and get yourself a copy of Monty Don’s book The Complete Gardener (covers flowers as well as veg and fruit). I’ve learned loads from it. And binge Gardeners World on YouTube!

  4. Katt

    Thank you Aunty I’m back in the village in a couple of weeks so a herb bed sounds like a good start.

  5. Katt

    Oh and I really need to plant rhubarb but I’ve not seen any plants in Bulgaria, am I just not looking hard enough for it Aunty? It’s so versatile and a good source of vitamin c. Help

    • Auntie Bulgaria

      Yeah, it’s hard to find in Bulgaria. Your best bet is to find someone with a rhubarb plant who’ll give you a section of theirs (you can divide rhubarb every few years). If you ever find yourself in the Sofia/Botevgrad/Etropole region, you can have a bit of ours! As for where we got ours, some relatives snuck a couple of plants over in their suitcase when we first moved out here. Naughty, naughty. But thank goodness they did.

    • Caroline

      Hi, just to say that Morgan’s Plants sell rhubarb plants, although they’re often out of stock. The company is run by English guys and they’re really nice and helpful. And their plants are very good.

      • Auntie Bulgaria

        Brilliant, thanks Caroline! We’ve bought plants from those guys at Hotnitsa market before, and they are great. Didn’t know they sold any veg plants though. Good to know…


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