News From Cyprus – Gardening, Photography & Growing Vegetables

It is always a joy to receive an email from my friend David in Cyprus as I am learning lots about the produce that grows in the foothils of the Troodos Mountains and Cypriot life.

Here is David’s letter:

Hi Sara and all at Farming Friends

Well it has been a long while and I hope that you have not given up on me. I am still not back on line but I will be able to give you a regular report on the Cyprus scene( I can hear some saying  “Oh God  He’s back!!) as I have found out how to download my documents to a disc. Yes I know young people are fully conversant with computers but with us oldies it takes a bit of trial and error. Anyway Maria who lives in Kedares has said that I may use her computer so I hope to give you some news from time to time.

The year has not started well for me and reading about the awful weather that UK has experienced and the floods etc in Australia it does not bode too well. A good friend died of a heart attack just before Christmas. His wife who has been a friend of mine since childhood sent me the news and I am really sorry that he will no longer be about. He was about 10 months younger than me so it does make you think. I will be 64 at the end of the month and am now counting the days to my pension.I just hope that I make it. I would really grieve me to think of all that money going back into the Government coffers.

Anyway on to happier matters.I went down to Paphos to pay my rent to my landlord and was greeted with the usual cup of cypriot coffee biscuits and a large bag of avocados (10 at least) some oranges and 2 pomelos ( these are about the size of a small football taste like grapefruit but are much sweeter – we shall see). He had to leave to go to his land in Mamonia a small village on the way to Troodos to help with the picking of more fruit. I had a job to do in Tsada (my old village) but I offered to help him later. He said that he would be back at his land on saturday and would happily pay me if I wanted to pick oranges and lemons. My work in Tsada did not take as long as I thought so on my way home I called into his land. His wife Koula was straight out with food  Eat eat was the call!! No No I said I have to get back to Kedares to make some telephone calls. So then out comes Pampos with a crate of oranges. Take these he says but please bring me back the crate on saturday. Could you wish for a better landlord? Of course I knew that I would not be able to get through a crate of oranges before they started to rot and as I have a good stock of orange juice friends in Tsada were given copious amounts with the promise of more to come. On the following saturday I arrived at the orange grove to find Pampos there with a couple of Romanian lads called Flouris (I hope I have spelt that right) and Christo. They were pruning the almond olive and orange trees. Pruning here seems to consist of cutting off large boughs and branches to allow air and sunshine to get into the centre of the plant and to prevent rot.Now I have read somewhere that it is not possible to kill an olive tree by pruning no matter how hard. I am not particularly religious but I understand that Christ wept beneath an olive tree and it gave the tree perpetual life.Looking at some of the olive trees around Kedares where the trunks have virtually disappeared but the tree still bears new growth and copious fruits I cannot argue with the sentiment. I told Pampos that I had passed on some oranges to friends and he said “Of course that is what friends should do!”

My job at the “garden” as Pampos calls it was to take out the cut branches and rebuild the boundary fences. Not with any sort of layering but just to stack them along the roadside. Now to explain the Cypriot ethic of land use. Most of the land is served by unmade tracks which tend to get very rutted and muddy over the winter period.Everyone seems to drive a four wheel truck or L200 so no real problem but they tend to use all the space that is available and not worry too much about fences and verges. Hence there are times when branches are disturbed or dragged off by the trucks. No ill intent is meant and repair is really a matter of personal choice. As livestock is allowed to roam fairly freely in the valley keeping stock enclosed is not really done. I am sure that visitors to Troodos will have come across the goatherd with his dogs and goats and sheep wandering along the roadway.

The land is in the Diarizos river valley close to Mamonia village about 15km from where I live. It is a beautiful valley but sadly now the river flows infrequently and only really during the winter rains. This is largely due to the dam and reservoir at Arminou higher up the valley.Kleanthis told me that in his youth when his father used to herd sheep and goats in the valley it was quite possible for the river to be impassable. The government are considering re-vitalising the valley and allowing more water to flow in the river which  may provide more wildlife and flora.

The orange variety is Merlin similar to a Navel orange and very sweet. I think they picked about 60 crates that day and of course Pampos told me to help myself to any fruits that I wanted.I left with some oranges for his uncle Nicos who lives in Kedares. I will be back to work there later as Pampos has about 200 orange trees quite a number of Mandarin trees and several lemon avocado and pomelo.It has been a bumper crop this year but prices are not too good.

I have started a small gardening business and now look after 3 gardens where the owners live in UK.I am not a trained horticulturist but I do enjoy weeding and digging and here in Cyprus the weather is usually so pleasant that it is a delight to be in the garden.I have recently been pruning the fruit trees olives and citrus but we have had some very violent weather and heavy rain and hail so I am a bit behind with jobs. Of course as the weather warms up everything takes off at a hell of a rate and weeds are now prolific as are snails and other beasties.The flowers are beginning to show in the gardens and my crocuses and freesias will soon be in flower.The blossom is already breaking out on the almond trees and the citrus trees will follow soon.I just hope we do not get too much more heavy rain as this will knock the blossom off.

Here in Kedares I have been growing garlic swiss chard lettuce radish spinach and broad beans all of which are thriving at present.They have done well over the winter and will be ready before the weather really gets hot. I have got to get some other vegetables into the ground in march and then the tomatoes aubergines chillies and peppers will be ready to plant up. I hope to have more success with squash this year.I think I will grow them on a plastic membrane so the fruits do not have to lie on the damp earth. I also hope to build a minature polytunnel to experiment with some crops and see how they do.

Our land in Lemithou is lying fallow at the moment and we are not really sure what to do with it.I know my mate is still keen to build up there but if he sails over to the States it will be some years before he is back and he may well think differently then.I suggested that we sell it as I would like to have some land in Kedares. Stavros the police officer who is married to Marina the gardener has put me in touch with a friend who will measure the land and market it for us so I must let Keith my mate know the latest score.

My ex wife who I am happy to say is still a great friend has been in touch and is now very keen on photography having been made redundant. I have long wanted to do a pictorial book on some of the parts of Cyprus that visitors may miss and suggested to her that we compile a book on the bridges of Cyprus.She is quite keen on the idea. Now I know that people will be saying that as there are no real rivers in Cyprus why should there be any interesting bridges.Most vistors know about the Venetian Bridges but I have found some that are also quite unique and I am researching the history of them to see if the project is worthwhile.

Well once again I have  prattled on but I hope that Farming Friends find my little jaunts and experiences fun to read as I do the many interesting articles that people post on the web site.

The sun is shining and it is getting warmer so time for a little glass or two of Nelion wine.

Best regards to you all

David

If you would like to read David’s other letters then click on the following links:

Letter 1

Letter 2

Letter 3

Letter 4

Letter 5

Letter 6

Letter 7

Letter 8

Letter 9

Letter 10

Letter 11

Letter 12

Letter 13

Vegetable Gardening April 2010

Today (Saturday) has been a gloriously sunny April day so I decided to get out in the veg garden. My veg garden has been abit of a disgrace so this year I am making a concerted effort to keep on top of the dreaded nettles!

A few weeks ago I planted broad beans, peas, runner beans and french beans. Shoots are coming through on the broad beans.

Today I have dug one of my raised beds and pulled out all the remaining nettle roots that were lingering!

I have managed to plant:

  • Radish – french breakfast and sparkler varieties.
  • Lettuce – all year round and little gem varieties.
  • Spinach beet.
  • Beetroot.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Cabbage.
  • Brussel Sprouts.
  • Purple Sprouting Broccolli.
  • Courgettes.
  • Carrots.

Farming Friends & TopVeg have now collaborated to create a series of vegetable growing cards instructions, so click on the links above to read the vegetable growing cards.

We have also written a set of herb growing cards.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

Nasturtiums Flowering In Vegetable Garden

I recently planted some nasturtium seeds purchased for a mere 19p, a bargain. I was delighted when the seeds germinated and produced lovely plants with beautiful flowers. The nasturtiums are now flowering and they provide a splash of colour in the veg garden.

Orange Nasturtium Flower

Orange Nasturtium Flower

Nasturtium leaves and flowers can be eaten. They can be added to salads to provide a splash of colour and add a peppery taste.

Yellow Nasturtium Flower

Yellow Nasturtium Flower

How to grow nasturtiums is featured in my How to Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook.

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook For Sale Only £3.00

How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook is now on sale for all you keen gardeners and cooking enthusiasts that want to produce a herb garden or grow your own herbs for cooking.

At a cost of only £3 the How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook will provide you with information about:

  • how to grow herbs,
  • sizes of herbs,
  • growing herbs in containers,
  • when to plant the herbs,
  • best location for planting,
  • suitable soil types,
  • when to harvest,
  • how to preserve herbs and
  • their culinary uses.

The How To Grow Herbs For Cooking eBook also includes a set of 21 herb growing cards which can be individually printed off and taken into the garden for easy reference.

How To Grow Mint Instructions

How To Grow Mint Instructions

Gardening – Potting On Lupin & Courgette Plants

Yesterday I did a spot of gardening whilst we have this spell of glorious weather. I had sown lupin and courgette seeds ages ago and hadn’t potted them on so I finally go around to it.

I now have 8 courgette plants in pots and when they get a little more established I will put them in a larger pot.

Courgette plants

Courgette plants

I potted on about 40 lupin seedlings so I hope to have some lovely lupin plants to add to our garden and then some plants to sell at the farm gate once the lupin plants are well established.

Lupin Seedlings

Lupin Seedlings

When I first moved to the farm I bought a lupin plant, which I have to say wasn’t cheap but at the time we didn’t have any guinea fowl or ducks that like to eat insects and snails and unfortunately my lupin plant was eaten by snails and slugs. Now that I have 28 guinea fowl and 7 ducks I am hoping that the snail and slug population has dramatically reduced so my lupin plants will be safe from nibbling insects!

Why not get your plants and seeds from Thompson & Morgan. Click on the image to visit the Thompson & Morgan  site.

What flowers and vegetable plants have you been growing?

Snails In The Kitchen Garden

Snails are often found in the kitchen garden.

Cynthia asked, “Should I get rid of the snails in my kitchen garden? Do they do damage?”

  • Unfortunately the garden snail is seen as a pest by many gardeners and vegetable growers since the snail predominantly eats leaf and plant materials.
  • So yes the snails will damage your kitchen garden crops.
  • You will probably never get rid of all the snails in your kitchen garden but you should try to control the numbers of snails to a reasonably low level.
  • You can use either natural or chemical pest control. There are lots of organic and chemical products on the market as well as other methods of pest control such as picking the snails off the plants by hand.

I hope that the garden snail does not eat all your kitchen garden plants and that you can get this garden pest under control. Click on the following links for information about snail control in the garden and methods of snail pest control.

Click on the image below to visit Amazon.co.uk to find out more about this book or visit one of the Farming Friends Bookshops.

  1. Hi Sara, I remember one year carefully collecting all the snails I was finding in the garden, a lot from under large rockery stones, into a neat pile, to take up to the tip, as I can’t kill them. I then forget they are there and take one step back and crunch, you guessed it, all of them smashed to smitherines, I did feel sad, but nothing I could do with a pile of shell and gloopy mess. x

    Comment by Louise – February 19, 2008 @ 11:30 am

  2. My mom has successfully eradicated these garden pests by meticulous picking and trapping (with simple bowls of water). She said she once spent an hour and counted 100 snails! Now there are very few in her flower beds 🙂

    Comment by nikkipolani – February 19, 2008 @ 7:45 pm

What to plant in the Raised Beds – Green Thumb Sunday

Vegetable garden surrounded by weeds 2006Vegetable Garden flooded in 2007 Watch this space for photographs of the raised beds in 2008!

I have spent today planning what to put in my raised beds after Joanna asked what I was putting in them when I posted about my new raised beds the other day.

I currently have 3 raised beds that are 1m by 3m and I intend to buy at least another 3.

Raised Bed 1 = potatoes.

Raised Bed 2 = brassicas.

Raised Bed 3 = salad.

Raised Bed 4 = squashes.

Raised Bed 5 = beetroot.

Raised Bed 6 = onion and garlic.

Do you have any gardening plans, if so I would love to hear about them.

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Gardeners, Plant and Nature lovers can join in every Sunday, visit As The Garden Grows for more information.

Raised Beds

Mum and Dad have bought me some raised beds which we have decided to use since the vegetable garden was flooded in Spring 2007.

They bought me three link-a-bord raised beds from Harrod Horticultural. The raised beds are 3m by 1m. They are really easy to put together and fit in the garden well. In fact there is room in the garden for 3 more raised beds so there will be plenty of room to grow lots of vegetables. I will have to order these raised beds but there is no rush as I still have to level the ground and then fill the raised beds with soil.

I will keep you posted on my progress with my raised beds.

The Vegetable Garden Under Attack

In days gone by our farmhouse vegetable patch was brimming with rows of veggies. It was my husband’s Grandad’s domain and he was very proud of it. Every year he would enter his veggies into the village show and if he didn’t have any fine specimens then it has been said that he would nip down to the local shop and buy a couple of onions to show, but this is only hearsay!
When I moved to the farm, my intention was to restore the vegetable garden to it’s former glory however the last few years have seen me fighting a losing battle against the long standing enemy of the gardener, the weed. The weeds grew rapidly in this part of the garden despite digging, digging and more digging!
So this year the boxing gloves (I mean gardening gloves) were well and truely on and I entered the garden or should that be boxing ring, with renewed vigour and the will to win over this area of land and reclaim the soil back from the champion weeds! I again attacked the garden with a stint of digging but after many hours of back breaking work with little results to show for it, I decided to bring in the big boys, ie the farm machinery.
My husband used the farm digger to dig over the veg plot and root up the offending weeds leaving the weed free soil underneath.
Once the soil was clear we then had to use the power harrow to level the soil. I don’t think my husband has ever had to power harrow such a small area of land before. The tractor and implement only just managed to manoeuvre into the space.
When the land had been cleared and levelled by the farming equipment, I was able to plant the many seedlings that had germinated in my greenhouse. I planted row upon row of vegetables and was very proud of the neat and well organised vegetable plot. Finally farmer’swife (with a little bit of help) had defeated the weeds. Courgettes, butternut squash, garlic, cauliflower, cabbage, sprouts, onions and broccolli were all happily growing in the weed free vegetable garden, that is until that fateful night in June when we received a phone call at 2am to say that flood water was heading our way. By daylight, my thriving vegetable patch was awash with flood water and the plants remained submerged in the water for nearly a week.
After the water subsided, most of the plants perished. The only success of the flooded vegetable garden was the two courgette plants that survived and have provided us with many tasty courgettes that have been turned into lemony courgette salad, mince stuffed courgettes, courgette soup and most unusually, courgette cake! A victory for the courgette. I think thats flood water 1, courgette plants 2!
Following the flood, I became a little despondent and couldn’t muster up much enthusiasm to regrow the veggies I had lost. So as the vegetable garden began to feel neglected, the weeds began to creep back. It’s amazing how quickly they can grow and the recently farmed vegetable garden once again became a jungle of weeds. This is the situation today but do not despair my next plan of attack is raised beds, so I’ll let you know who wins round 2!

Vegetable Plot Ruined By Flood

I have worked very hard this year to grow lots of vegetables from seed which I recently planted out in the garden. My vegetable garden had planted in it;

  • Broccoli.
  • Sprouts.
  • Cabbage.
  • Cauliflower.
  • Butternut Squash.
  • Courgettes.
  • Lettuce.
  • Radish.
  • Beetroot.

Most of these vegetable plants which were grown from seed have perished in the flood.

Vegetable Plot After The Flood

A couple of courgette plants may survive and some of the brassicas but most of the other plants died because their roots rotted away.

Courgette Plant Survives Flood – I Hope!

What truely amazes me about the garden is that it doesn’t matter what you do to the weeds they will always somehow find a way to survive!

Fortunately not all of the plants in my greenhouse perished as I managed to get into the greenhouse and rescue the pots that were submerged in water.

Over the next few weeks I will try to plant out the remaining greenhouse veggies if the ground dries out enough for me to do so.