Wednesday, 25 June 2008

A Very Special Day 25.06.08

Our Darling Ruby Ann is 1 Year old today.

With lots of love


Daddy & Mummy.

Hugs & Kisses.


Tuesday, 10 June 2008

mmmmm Strawberries! 10.06.08

Okay, so we're not quite ready to supply Wimbledon, but I can assure you these little gems were delish. Well, one of them anyway!
Secret squirrell got the other one!
These were harvested today from the hanging basket that i planted earlier in the year. The investment was well worth it, and we're looking forward to many more!

Thats all for now, take care.


Sunday, 8 June 2008

Still catching up ! 08.06.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, my weekly guide to growing your own veg.

Gardening continues at a pace, and plenty to share with you this week.

The week has seen a couple of the crops start to harvest, the haul including Broad Beans and yet more Rhubarb.

The Broad Beans are slowly starting to succumb to the dreaded blackfly, it seems there is no way to avoid the pests. At least this year we're managing to take a crop, rather than binning the whole lot. I've been gently cutting back and destroying the most infected shoots, and regular nightly watering will now ; hopefully, let the plants put all their energies into crop production. The taste of these beauties is truly outstanding, but also truly yummy. Stealing a phrase from young Oliver - they are delish!

Rhubarb - amazing stuff. It seems no matter how quick you break the stems off, they just regrow with yet more vigour. Secret squirrel yet again amazed me with a delish Rhubarb and Ginger Crumble, topped with a tin of Tesco's finest "Value" custard - scrummmmmeeeeee.

Elsewhere on the plot:
My biggest reward this year on the plot has so far been my onion plot.
With trepidation I planted out my onion sets ( Stuttgarter Giant & Red Karmen ) when i hoped it was the right time. Along with these i planted my Leeks, and just for a bit of an experiment - I also grew some Bedfordshire Champion onions from seed; which with a bit of advice on propagation from "Steve" seem to be doing blooming well.
Don't know why i never grew onions before? I know they are not much to look at, take up time in the ground etc., but their astounding growth rate seemingly makes up for all the negatives I can think of.
So go on, give em a try.
Looking forward to Red Onion soup !

Regular readers (no pun intended ! ) at Reads Retreat, will know i planted my Garlic Fokyhama bulbs about a month before Christmas.
Well; as if the onions weren't enough to gloat about, take a look at these beauties. I tell you, some of the stems at ground level must be over an inch thick.
Therefore, I'm hoping for some mammoth and succulent bulbs sometime soon, to grace our menu's at home.
I've just given these a feed of my homebrew ( nettle tea) as the leaf tops are starting to go yellow. I want to promote the greenness as long as possible before harvest, to get the best growth i can.
All i need do now, is work out when to harvest them !

Last summer I grew my runner beans on a conventional cane system. I got a great yield and overall was very happy. Except..... access. I really struggled to get to the beans and as a result, several tasty pods went to seed. That wasn't too bad though, I shifted some 300 seeds on ebay!
This year though, I thought i would try my luck growing the plants up wigwams, in the hope i will get the same good crops - but find it easier to get to the pods for picking. Time of course, will tell, so you'll have to watch this space to see how i get on.
This year im also growing climbing french beans (v. Blue Lake) and I'll keep you posted on how well they do.

There's a little sun trap on the corner of our patio, which has now become an extension of the plot.
I've got 2 courgette plants in this little tub, and I'm hopeful they will do well here.
One was a "plant by post" from Secret Squirrel, whilst the other was a gift from Mum - thanks mum.
Cant wait to see how these do, as already they are sporting good growth and are budding up nicely.

This is my potted up tomato (v. Tomazing ) that secret squirrel got for me.
It's doing ok and is now being fed on a regular basis with liquid fertilizer. The flower heads are starting to form, and almost daily i am pinching out side shoots.
I've got my gardeners delight toms in the raised beds, and despite the best efforts of the local slimey population, they too are growing on well.

Thats about it for now on the gardening front. Hope to get another update to you all soon.

Take care all and enjoy your gardens. Don't forget to let me know how you are getting on with your gardens ?


Sunday, 1 June 2008

All changed in 2 weeks! 01.06.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, my guide to growing your own veg in raised beds.

Sorry for the prolonged absence, but hope now to get back to my weekly ( maybe more ? ) updates.

As the title states, there's been a lot of changes, not only in the garden, but also we now have another mobile family member: Our darling daughter walked unaided yesterday right across the living room. What a great moment, a memory to treasure forever. Isn't life great !
Down on the plot:
The spuds in the tubs are fairly flourishing, with tremendous growth all around - so much so that its getting difficult to actually see the containers.
We had an exploratory dig in one container last week, just to see how things were going. There were a large amount of new pots , but they were sadly far too small to harvest. Really need to now sit back and let them do their stuff, remembering to provide plenty of water along the way.

Just outside the patio door, there's more spuds in the brick container that was home last year to my tomatoes.
There's also a couple of other pots:
2 contain my Bay Leaf plants. These were bought for £1.50 each earlier in the year. They were potbound but are now doing well in fresh compost and larger pots. Has anyone used these as hedging before ? There's also a few pots of herbs that Sammie planted. All doing fine.

I've started transferring my toms outside, in containers, to their final growing positions. The larger pot is home to the "Tomazing" variety that secret squirrel brought for me, whilst the other is "Gardeners Delight" , grown from seed earlier this year.
Sadly, a large number of toms that i grew from seed are starting to go to waste, lack of time meaning they are pot bound and wilting. I will try and plant out as many as possible over the coming weeks and salvage what i can.

One of the 2 gooseberry bushes that i got from Wilkinsons has finally taken root and started to grow on well. Plenty of new leaf growth is an encouraging site, but i think it will be a while before i can take a harvest from here.
Sadly, the other bush that I planted has not done anything at all. It's fair to say that it is adead gooseberry - i.e. it is no more !
This is unfortunate as this is the green variety that i really hoped would do well.
Hey ho, onwards and upwards.

On a more successful note, my strawberries in the hanging basket are doing great.
The only problem of note is that one of the fruits turned mouldy and had to be discarded. I was thinking of putting a layer of straw under the fruit to help keep them dry / off the soil.
Is that a good idea ?
Let me know folks - I've not grown these before !

The Broad Beans (v. Bunyard Exhibition ) are living up to their name, putting on a fine show of flowers.
Lower down the stems the pods are already forming, and although we did "nick" a few last week for the table ( delish) that are still a way off being ready to fully harvest.
Isn't it funny when kids tell you they dont like something, even when they've never tried them!
I guess we'll have to get creative on the culinary front, and hide them under the mash.
The pods we ate only contained tiny beans, but they tasted gorgeous - i would say that though, i'm biased.

Still loads to tell you about, and I'll update this posting a bit later, as Im off now to the outlaws for dinner!