Friday, 23 March 2007

Runner Bean Canes 22.03.07

It's a great time of year, with all the preperations underway and almost finished.
8 x 8' Foot canes were used for my runner bean supports, pushed into the ground approx 2', they are quite sturdy. For added strength, I made the cross cane at the to the same height as the broad bean canes in the next bed. The added advantage of this is that the top runner canes will let the runners "dangle" which helps when it comes to harvest the crop. You'll see what i mean later in the year. The other point is that the supports run East to West ( approx ) so the veg get the full benefit of the sun, albeit as much as possible bearing in mind the proximity of the fence . People have been asking which variety i grow, and the honest answer is that I dont know. When my grandad started growing beans in the 1920's , he always dried some seed pods for next years crop. These have in turn been grown by my mother, and now by me. All I can tell you is that the deep red flowers are a picture to behold, and the crop is nearly always good. Must be a "Longpod" variety of some ilk ?


Thursday, 22 March 2007

Broad Beans looking Good 13.03.07

As you can see from the pic, the Broad Beans are doing well.
I planted through the black fabric and secured to canes for support. Being the Bunyard Exhibition variety, I'm hoping these will grow to about 4 foot tall. As long as I can keep the dreaded blackfly at bay, should be okay. I have a reserve of seedlings in the conservatory, should things go pear shape !
I'm also of a mind to risk planting out some climbing french beans. The seeds for these were sown indoors early with this in my mind. I have nothing to lose as the seeds were free. They grew through my fence last year and were mistakenly picked with my runner beans. I only discovered this after drying the pods for seed collection, when i found i had black seeds as well as the seeds from my runners ! I named them Irene, after my neighbour !

Filling the beds ! 7.03.07

I filled the beds with a mixture of soil from around the beds, Peat Free Compost as well as General potting compost, in large amounts ! I also added the required dosage of slow release fertizer pellets and then covered the beds with Black plastic ( for the spud bed ) and weed suppressant fabric for the rest .
The aim of this is twofold: To warm the soil for early planting ( Black absorbs heat ) and to suppress any weed growth.
As you can see in the pic, the raised beds are now extended into the plot by the patio. This will provide a bed for the maincrop spuds as well as an access path between this and the earlies bed.
Things are starting to take shape now, but must be patient to get past the frosty weather. When the weeds start to grow, its a good time to sow! Or so I've been told. Watch this space . TTFN.

Sowing the seeds ........ Dates in the diary

Just gonna run this bit to keep track of whats been planted and when. Then maybe next year I can get the dates a bit better !

Potatoes chitting are :
First Earles: Rocket PLANTED 1.04.07
Second Earlies : Nicola PLANTED 1.04.07
Maincrop : King Edward

Seeds in Order I think as follows:
1. Broad Beans- Bunyard Exhibition- in seed trays inside : 14.02.07
2. Chilli-Winter Warmer- in modules inside: 15.02.07
3. Leek- Musselburgh- in seed trays inside: 24.02.07
4. Chives-4 to a module inside: 24.02.07
5. Pumkin-in modules inside: 27.02.07
6. Broad beans transferred to raised beds outside : 01.03.07
7. Climbing French Beans-in seed trays-inside: 6.03.07
8. Peas- Kelvedon Wonder-in modules inside: 6.03.07
9. Sweet Pea- Ancient Mix - in propagator inside: 6.03.07
10. Cineraria Silver Dust - in seed tray inside : 6.03.07
11.Runners-Grandad's-in loo rolls inside : 7.03.07
12. Lavatera - in propagator inside : 7.03.07
13. Sweet Alyssum Oriental nights in propagator inside : 15.03.07
14. Forget me not - in propogator inside : 15.03.07
15. Antirhhinum Brighton Rock - in prpogator inside : 15.03.07
16. Garlic Fokyhama - in raised beds outside : 15.03.07
17. Carrot Early Nantes - in raised beds outside : 15.03.07
18. Tomato Money Maker in prpogator inside : 22.03.07
19. Parsnip Hollow Crown - in loo rolls inside : 22.03.07
20. Transferred leeks from seed tray into Raised bed outside, remainder in modules inside. The latter to go outside in 2 weeks time.
21. Potted out the runner beans into their raised bed: 1.04.07
22. Planted 2 small rows of Shallots in raised beds(V. Red Sun) 1.04.07
23. Planted out French climbing beans (V. Irene) into raised beds with the broad beans 1.04.07
24. Planted out First Early spuds (V. Rocket) and Second Earlies (V.Nicola) into their own raised beds, through holes in black plastic 1.04.07
25. Planted 2 small rows of peas(v. Kelvedon wonder) after soaking overnight. 11.04.07
26. Made seed sowings directly into the raised beds ( 15.04.07) as follows:
  • Radish (v.Scarlet Globe)
  • Radish (v. French Breakfast)
  • Beetroot (v. Boltardy)
  • Chives
  • Carrot (v. Early Nantes) Second sowing.
I just followed the instructions on the packets. The only thing i did differently was to soak the drills before putting the seeds in, to assist with germination.
27. Planted out Parsnips (v. Hollow Crown) that were started indoors in toilet roll inners, directly into the raised beds. 15.04.07
28. Potted on the remaining Pumpkin plants into large containers in the conservatory. 3.05.07.
29. Potted on "Forget me not " plants into 3"Square pots, and placed outside. 4.05.07.
30. Potted on my single courgette into large pot outside. 4.05.07.
31. Potted on my Winter Warmer Chilli plants into individual 3" Square pots. 4.05.07.

This post will be added to as and when. Last update : 05.05.07

Watch this space !


Wednesday, 21 March 2007

Raised beds from scaffold planks 19/2/07

Dont get me wrong, Im no master carpenter! This construction though was relatively easy and very very cheap.
Materials consisted of 4 13' scaffold planks ( 13x9x1.5") at £3.00 each, from a local scaffolding company ( These boards are condemned - split etc - and not allowed to be used on site, and therefore useless to the company. They are however just what i needed. The only other expenditure was a box of 2.5" screws for a quid.

The long sides of the beds were simply 2 planks cut in half, the ends of the main beds were 1 plank cut into 4 !, whilst the bits in the middle were made from the remaining plank - the rest of which was used later on ! After screwing all together, 18" pegs were attached to the inside corners, and then the whole thing was moved into position, tamped down until level and that was it!. The access area to the front was covered with a black weed suppressing fabric before being well covered with bark chippings. The whole thing cost me less that £20. TTFN

First plantings of the year : 14/2/07

14th Feb is marked on the calendar not only as a day to shower my loved one with pressies, but also as the day to sow my Broad Beans.
This year I chose Bunyard Exhibition, mainly as sow easy to grow, considering how new my raised beds are and the subsuquent soil mixture therein. Maybe next season I can go for a different variety, but this will be a great start for enriching the soil.

What a difference a week makes 14/2/07

7 days gives you so much time to get things done, as long as you have a plan!
I managed to cement in a new fence post adjacent to the existing broken one. With no access to my neighbours garden, this was simply the best way forward, rather than renewing the whole fence. I used a bag of Postcrete, wonderful stuff and so easy, only £4 a bag too.
As you can see from the plot, its got bigger. Now a lovely 15' x 9' , more than big enough for what i want. I took over the flower bed that borders the patio, as an area to plant my maincrop spuds. Flower gardening is taking a backseat this year as the bab is due mid June ( cant wait ) , so my fiance wont have the time for planting borders this year.
In my previous post i mentioned my hoard of stuff !
Well here's my collection! Seed trays with lids are so cheap these days, its hard to find an excuse for buying pots !
Also managed to but my spud seed potatoes this week, £1.69 for a bag of ten - cheap eh ! My First Earlies are "Rocket", Second Earlies are "Nicola" whilst for the maincrop i chose reliable old "King Edward". Cant believe how cheap these are getting. There's simply no point in buying spuds when you have the space to grow them. Nothing beats freshly dug spuds. Savour the taste!
Hope you will come back soon ! I'm slowly getting up to date. TTFN

Tuesday, 13 March 2007

Hello Jack ! 7/02/07

Good old Jack Frost appeared 7th Feb 2007 - a welcome visitor to my garden. At 7.00am that frosty morn', i swear i could hear the soil cracking in the cold! Just what my plot needed to break down the huge chunks of clay. We'd had about a week of torrential rain by now, so this cold snap was more than welcome.
About the same time as this, the shops had just started to stock a huge variety of gardening "stuff" and shopping trips became more and more frequent, yielding more and more bargains. There's too many to list here now, some will be featured later as i get this blog up to date. Needless to say, my house is turning green!

Happy New Year

Its surprising what you can achieve in just a few weeks.
The area pictured was the start of the plot. I didn't tackle too much at a time, but this area approx 9x6 foot took a considerable amount of effort to clear. Kneeling down and pulling weeds is the way I was taught. There is no other way of getting the soil conditioned. Even dousing with chemicals would not generate such a quick result. The area was double dug, and then forked through to open it up. Luck was on my side, as it remained pretty mild and dry up to this point in time, meaning that I could work the heavy clay soil. If the rains had arrived any earlier than they did, then this work would of had to wait. Its much later in the year now as I write, but I can easily ( with finger pressure only ) push a six foot cane 4' into the soil. That is the fruit of the effort. Love the fork too - thanks Bill & Edna. It a Wilkinson Sword version with stainless steel tines, and not too heavy either.

Progress - slow, but getting there !

By late December 2006, the toil in the garden was beginning to pay off.
Having re sited the shed at the end of the garden - facing back towards the house, i now had the beginnings of a workable plot, with some ideas in my head of how I was going to proceed.At about the same time as the photo was taken, Auntie Beeb started the "Grow Your Own" TV series, which although i was none too keen on, did provide me with that final push of inspiration to get cracking.
Digging and weeding soil which has never been dug, is an arduous task that you want to put off till tomorrow - every day. However, having got a lovely new Fork for christmas I was chomping at the bit to get going, and just got on with it.
By now I was employed locally, and on shifts, so I had more time on my hands.
Its not going to last however, as I was blessed with the news in October that Im gonna be a dad! So it was now or never!.
What better inspiration could you have than that ?

Welcome to the jungle.....

Hahaha ! My veggie plot !
This was the scene in April 2006, just 10 months after moving in. To say the garden had been neglected would be a massive understatement. The previous owners had; it seems, been intent on recreating that urban jungle theme out back, and had never - it seems - dug a single thing into the garden. You have to remember, it took 10 months to get this good !
Luckily for me, last summer was very dry. This meant simply buying an incinerator and getting on with it. Blue bags as pictured, are from the coucil for a quid each, and they collect with standard refuse. Needless to say, i didn't use too many of these. One of first investments in the garden, was a composter. This has more than paid for itself over the last 12 months, with large quantities of composted waste having now been dug in. I use a proprietary compost accelerator, and on regular occasion use a fork to turn the contents over. We now have three of these daleks, which are all in constant use.
Together with work commitments and house redecoration, the garden took a back seat till the autumn of last year, but i just kept doing a bit as time allowed. Ten minutes a day is - believe it or not - enough to make progress. Watch this space!

Intro and Welcome

Hello & Welcome to my blog.

This has been a long time coming and there's loads to do, so please bear with me while i endeavour to catch up with myself !

Reads Retreat is in memory of my grandfather, whose retreat was his garden shed and garden, where he developed a great love for all that he grew.

I, on the other hand, am a complete amateur in the garden, but am keen to learn. I have the basic skills, as well as a shed, and a strong desire to create a kitchen garden to produce enough veg for the house, an attractive and user friendly garden, a space for all my family.

If you want to leave a comment, please do so. I would welcome your comments, as i want to grow this part of my garden too.

I intend this journal to be a reference area mainly for my veg growing, and hope to grasp uploading pictures to compliment my text. Hope you like it!