(Noting what’s fresh & local to know what I can grow & when and a record of fresh pickings from our garden to improve future planting plans, manage gluts better etc)
From the store:
- Poriluk (spring onions)
From the garden:
- Rocket – 2 varieties
- Lettuce – reds, greens, curly, straight… that’s as technical as my varieties get! All delicious!
- Herbs – chives, basil (purple, neapolitana & thai), coriander (regular, confetti & lemon), parsley, dill and mint
Sowing & Planting
(Building a record of what I need to prepare for next in the garden)
Everything got planted this month, ready or not!!! We moved onto the campsite from mid May and had to transfer the nursery from the house. After a week or so of pots kicking about, I decided it was more practical to plant them all. I know that some seedlings (peppers, chillies for example) would have benefitted from growing on in pots for longer but in the end I just didn’t have the time to faff about with potting on. I tucked the little guys under the shelter of tomatoes already growing strong & hoped for the best. My monthly gardening calendar didn’t account for moving onto site so early so my plan has gone awry but I’m taking good notes on what’s working and what’s not, so… we’ll break the rules and learn some more.
By the end of May the peas had been & nearly gone. We enjoyed a week or so with the sweet green pods popping up in every other meal and then the greenfly weakened them and the sun scorched them and they began to fade. The sweetcorn & beans are romping away and lettuce, beets & chard are filling the spaces they left behind.
There’s been a lot of direct sowing of seeds for successive croppings of radish, beetroot, sorrel, chard, spinach, lettuce, cucumber & peas.
I’ve just seen the picture of the flower garden from the beginning of April and chuckled. The area is unrecognisable now, largely due to the hard toil of Sara & Lluis, our 2 Spanish wwoofers who identified & labelled edible plants & medicinal herbs and have created even more beds for the thinnings from the veg garden that need more space. They planted up palms too. Here’s a photo to show ssome of the changes, but it really doesn’t do it justice…
And here’s a classic pic of one of the beauties flowering away now…
My “bo-flow-grove” (botanical garden/ flower bed/ citrus grove) is colourful & abundant. I am beyond happy!
Baking & Making
(A chance to reflect on the culinary success & failures of the month & share crafty moments)
In complete contrast to last month, the baking & making this month was OFF THE SCALE!!!
Pam & Gerry came to stay for a week at the beginning of May, so that was an excuse to cook nice food. Here’s a pic of one of the more colourful creations…
The chutney & preserves were all gone so it was time to re-stock the larder. I found a few bags of frozen kiwis for a new batch of indian-style pickle and oranges were good & cheap again, so I marmalade-d – one of the best so far according to my discerning tasters…
As the volunteer opportunities started to firm up alongside guest bookings I realised that it would be a task and a half just cooking for everyone, especially since 2 of the wwoofers were vegetarian so I would need some pre-cooked ingredients and good ideas up my sleeve. So along with the preserves, I cooked up dahl and beans and stuff:
Nearly 3 weeks cooking pretty much solidly for 6 people and at times up to 13 with 2-3 vegetarians, was a challenge. If I do say so myself, I whipped up some pretty fab food and our guests and volunteers were consistently complimentary. Clean plates and lots of folk going back for seconds are the real sign of succes… The girl done good.
(Love sharing the books I’m into)
I started reading Sarah Waters’ “Afffinity” and over a month in, I am barely halfway through. I struggled from the start with this book but I persisted as it was recommended by Fi, the provider of many a great book, so I trust her judgement. I haven’t even picked this paperback up for many, many weeks. Just no time or head space to read. Surprisingly though, it’s central characters have stuck with me and I am looking forward to picking up the story again soon.
What’s the vibe?
(This month’s gut reaction)
May has been, well, frankly, stunning… We have been so busy it has been hard at times to feel anything and there’s been lots of being & doing & just making it through each day – stunned with what we’ve achieved, the community we’ve created and often exhausted with the strain and thrill of it all.
We have been lucky enough to spend time with family, old friends, new friends, volunteers (who have become new friends, I’m delighted to say), and lovely guests. The cultures, nationalities and talents have been many & varied – Spanish food foragers & gardeners; plumbers, drummers & pickaxers from England’s North West; our first visitors from Albania and first proper paying Montenegrin guest; lots (proportionally) of Dutch folk; sailors & travelling musicians…
Speaking personally, it’s been a month of expectations being exceeded ++. The flowers, vegetables and herbs have flourished and yeilds of everything are already higher than I dared hope. Guests have come & gone, with full bellies and smiles – in fact most have left reluctantly and some have stayed longer than originally planned. Last year we had zero paying guests in May; this year we’ve had 11!!!! The volunteer experience has been enriching beyond belief. We’ve got so much done (more of that in a subsequent post…) but more importantly we’ve laughed, cried, played together and created amazing moments & things. Enquiries from guests and volunteers continue to trickle in and the immediate future looks rosy. This month we’ve also had a visit from a journalist who was suitably impressed and has promised a glowing review in the Bradt Guide and we welcomed some folk from an organisation who arrange school trips in the UK & are considering us as a possible venue for the future. The word about Camp Full Monte is spreading.
(Trying to listen to some new tunes every month)
This month we’ve mostly been listening to Stefan Pope. We’ve been lucky enough to have the great man live around our campfire and my only regret is that we haven’t been able to enjoy his drumming prowess. I vow to go hear him bang his drum somewhere, one sunny day…
It was great having Pam & Gerry around although we did our usual thing and sent folk back more tired than before! Pam worked her socks off in the garden and planted up our tyre wall:
I know she’ll be mad at me posting this picture but here’s another one, a really lovely photo of a really lovely lady, with Steve mowing the grass in the background:
Pam was delighted by the wild flowers (particularly the orchids and we were thrilled for her that there were so many to see!) and she decorated the campsite beautifully with her tasteful arrangements:
Despite terrible back pain, Gerry was also a great help. He re-painted our main road sign which had been vandalised and made us a new sign for the basement door:
Gerry & Daisy Marmite got on like a house on fire. He made her great toys to play with (plastic bottles strung from trees) and the 2 of them enjoyed the odd afternoon kip together!
We were delighted to welcome Annie back to Monte, this time on her own but nonetheless looking good & feeling fine. Steve & I spent some great quality time with her at the campsite, where she chilled out and tested the hammocks for sleep-ability at regular intervals.
Our first proper volunteers, Nina, Stefan & Hattie arrived towards the end of the month. The afternoon they arrived I went to pick up Mel, who we’d known in the early days in Monte but who had recently returned after some years in the UK, looking trim & happier & with a new man, Blanty in tow. As I was driving them back to the campsite from town, we passed 3 young people with rucksacks on their back, which had to be our volunteers. As I stopped the car to greet them, Blanty from the back seat says, calm as you like: “Hello Stefan”. Turns out he knows one of the volunteers and they’d played music together in the same pubs in the UK… Small friggin’ world! Needless to say that evening round the campfire with the guitars a’twanging was a memorable one indeed.
Dear friends from my Uni days, Val and Rick arrived on the same day as our first guests. They got on famously with Nina, Stefan & Hattie and were there to greet the Spanish couple who joined us a few days later. Val, bravely, cooked paella that night, which went down a storm:
Sara & Lluis had arrived from Croatia, where they had learnt to love Rakija. They produced a coke bottle full of domaci (homemade) hooch and a guitar which Sara played beautifully & the evening really took off.
Rick, who Val & I have known for 20+ years got the most drunk we’d ever seen. Not surprising since the range of alcohol consumed that night included: vodka, beer, wine, loza & amaretto… It was a hoot! And the hangovers the next days were immense.
There was just so much fun stuff going on this month, I’d be rambling on for an age… so here are some highlights:
- a delicious meal out at a great Italian restuarant that Pam & Gerry treated us to. Tooo stuffed for words… we all rolled home, groaning!
- an impromptu music-fest with 2 guitars, 2 kazoos, some improvised instruments and many wonderful voices
- an evening of Bridge with Rick & Val
- playing “Hombres les Lobos” or “Killer” with the wwoofers
- a crazy hike up to the rocks above the campsite
- foraging for wild food
- taking Daisy Marmite for long rambles and finding treasures… laden Mulberry trees, for example!
(Bizarre & extraordinary happenings? This is Montenegro)
We got post delivered to the campsite!!!! I’m still in shock about it…
We never give the address of our campsite to anyone as it translates to:A campsite – sort of, Somewhere on the road from Prijevor to Malta Near Herceg Novi
However, we are marketing ourselves via a website called camping.info and address details were obligatory fields in the setup of our details. They obviously then use these details to send info about offers and upgrading our profile. We have never seen a postie in the area but one afternoon a mailshot from the camping info website was shoved through the bottom gate. Remarkable!
One Green Thing
(One more step along our green journey)
We now have a worm bin up & running! More compost, faster! (we hope…)
We reused an old dustbin donated by a friend. Nina & Stefan did most of the hard work, helped a bit by Steve.
(Charting the weather for us and our garden)
The weather this month has been mostly gorgeous with the occasional stormy afternoon and the odd shower. Watering is now a daily task as even when it rains, there’s not even moisture to quench the garden’s thirst. Despite the hot, hot days, evenings on the campsite are still surprisingly chilly.
Here’s the view of the campsite from the rocks above at the end of May – so much greener this year than previous years when the clay mountains from the building works had clearly been a blot on the landscape, and so much tidier too with all the great work we’ve been doing: