Wednesday, 27 September 2017

A Purple Patch and a New Publication

My attempts at growing vegetables have met with ever more depressing results over the years that we've lived here. The first time I planted up our modest little vegetable patch we had a fairly respectable crop of French beans, after we'd saved the plants from being eaten by a pesky hare who'd decided that our plants were the new fast food joint in his area [see chapter 4 of Tzatziki For You to Say]. The first time I grew red onions I thought this whole 'good life' thing was going to be a piece of cake, since that first harvest yielded a goodly number of tennis ball-sized onions that I was well pleased with. I even had enough to give a few away.

We grew peppers (the capsicum variety), garlic, cucumbers, melons, courgettes, lettuce (various kinds, but we like the purple crinkly ones the best) and even a few tomatoes. We also ate our own aubergines (eggplant, guys).

As the years have gone by though, the quality of my yield has gone down the swanny, as it were. So, last winter I made a determined effort to rejuvenate the soil. Not only had I already left the patch fallow for a whole year, but I'd worked in a whole load of horse and chicken manure, plus dug compost pits for all our kitchen green waste and also poured on and dug in a few sacks of general purpose compost from the local garden centres. This year I was going going to reap the benefits of all that preparatory work, we were going to eat the produce of our own graft once again. (Wait for it, wait for it...)

It all started out with such promise. Our neighbour David, from two houses up the hill from us, had entered into the whole 'good life' spirit with gusto and built himself a rather impressive greenhouse from bamboo canes that he harvested himself and lugged up the whole kilometre of our dirt track strapped to his bicycle and acres of polythene sheeting that he bought down the road in our local DIY store. All we had to do was ply him with empty yogurt pots and he started returning them with all kinds of seedlings potted up and ready for planting out. 

It was all going so well.

Then came the hottest summer for sixty years. With temperatures pushing 50ºC for a couple of weeks everything withered to a crisp. What the heat didn't kill the water finished off because, owing to the water table having dropped so low beneath the mountains here, the stuff coming out of our taps for several months suspiciously resembled seawater. Salt water and crops - not a good combination. We had healthy cucumber and courgette plants for the first time in several years, some promising tomato plants over which I'd constructed (even though I say so myself) a fairly clever translucent green screen-roof to stop the sun from burning the plants while still allowing them plenty of natural sunlight. Everything was looking good for a bumper harvest. Then the July sun and the fetid tapwater polished the whole lot off. In just a couple of weeks our garden resembled the Gobi desert.

All except, that is, for one aubergine plant. Bless it but it wasn't going to give up without a fight. It struggled admirably on until the mains water was once again sweet and drinkable, until the temperatures dropped to a respectable lower 30s, and produced a bunch of very promising flowers along the way. Here it is folks, the only remaining living thing in our entire vegetable patch...

And doesn't it look good eh? If it wouldn't damage it I'd give it a great big hug for showing such a fighting spirit in the face of seemingly insurmountable odds. If you click to get the larger view, you'll see that it has new flowers on it too and another modest little aubergine just ripening nicely. In fact, to date I've picked four little beauties from it already. Here's the one I picked only yesterday...

OK, so it's not the largest you've ever seen, but it's all ours and it's a miracle. I gaze at these amazing fruits and the colour takes my breath away, it's so beautiful. It's almost a shame to cut into it and eat it. The good news is too, that my ever faithful agrotis friend and advisor Mihalis tells me to leave the plant in the ground until the next season, prune it and it'll produce for another year too. 

"Don't pull it out Yianni!" he says, with great earnest. "Leave it where it is and it will give you fruit next year!"

So, after all the ups the downs, the highs and lows of a very difficult season, we seem to have finally hit a (modest maybe) purple patch at last.

Take a look at these...

Sorry about the quality of that one!
These are shots of a brand new perfect-bound (trade term for a publication with a spine) glossy magazine all about Rhodes that I picked up fresh from a pallet sitting outside the periptero in Krana Square, Lindos just a couple of days ago. Some years back we used to have a similar magazine, published annually, simply called Rhodes, and it was excellent. It disappeared though and for a couple of years there hasn't been such a great advert for the island available.

"Greece Is" seems to be an Athens-based venture that looks like producing a dedicated magazine not only for Athens and Thessalonica but also eventually for each island and, judging from my first impressions of this one, it's very, very good. There will be a new one annually and it will be available in shops, bars, offices etc., for folk to simply pick one up and take away. 

If you're in Rhodes get your hands on one and keep it on your coffee table. It looks very good to me.


  1. interesting as ever - there is a Greece is magazine web site which seems to show the article you posted.

    1. That's right Graham. In fact there is a link in the post! Where it says "Greece is".

  2. Do really enjoy your posts as a way of keeping in touch with life on Rhodes between holidays :-)

    Interesting to read your comments on the water quality as we found it very salty during our stay this September and were horrified at the very low water levels in the two reservoir/lakes we like to visit for bird watching.

    Lets hope the island has some rain to top up levels this winter, but in nice manageable amounts at night!