Sunday, 30 November 2008

Rich Pickings 30.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, our guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds.

The last day of a chilly and damp November is not normally the time you expect to be pulling carrots to grace the sunday lunch, but what a blessing these little beauties were. As fellow growers will know, they taste amazing. Although not a great size, they were a real treat. I think they're stunted in size for a couple of reasons; mainly their late sowing , and the fact that I neglected to thin them out! There's still a few more to come yet - who knows, that might even make it to the yule dinner plate. Whatever happens, the taste is a constant reminder of why we grow our own. Next year we will be growing some different varieties, namely to get some different colours on the plate, I must say I'm looking forward to white carrots!

Also today, managed to dig up a few Betroot for SS to bung in her sarnies. This little gems - each about the size of a golf ball, should be enough for at least 2 sarnies !
Again, these will be grown on the lottie next year, and it would be grand to emulate fellow plotholders who have this year harvested some truly huge roots. The key to this developing gardening / allotmenteering, is that we now have much more space to grow that much more.

As for the "Rich Pickings" title, I am still amazed at the amount of Chili's we've been able to harvest this year. This may be the final harvest, but they went straight into the freezer ready to be used at a later date. We're getting a bit more daring in terms of how many seeds get left in the pot for cooking, and find the heat from them is a much more rounded flavour than those you can buy in the shops. Looking forward to growing many more of these next year.

Managed to get a few jobs finished today, which included the final clearing of the beds that were home to the runner and french beans. The larger of the 2 beds was filled with green kitchen waste last year, and covered with general purpose compost prior to planting the climbing french beans this spring. The size of the crop from these beds lends weight to the use of home made compost, and we will continue on this vein in the future.

Not a lot else to tell you about from the plot, but hope you will join us again soon.

Till then,


Monday, 24 November 2008

Planning Ahead ! 24.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, our guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds.

Whilst there's not much happening on our garden plot at the mo, I always find great interest in the many reference books that i have acquired over the years. It doesn't matter how many new books i buy, i still go back to the older tomes !
One thing that constantly annoys me in the newer books though, is their conversion to metric. Why do they do it ? I sit there and read "23cm apart in rows" whilst mentally converting it to inches! Do you do that ? Do you really have an idea of what 23cm actually relates to ! Has the whole world gone mad!
Sorry - rant over. If however you are a publisher reading this then please please please take note.

Elsewhere at home the seed collection is growing at quite a pace. Next year we will grow the sturdier / hardier veg at the allotment, so we can make space for the more attention seeking veg plants at home. We had, for example , limited successes with Sweet Pepper, Aubergine, Turnip etc. and want to take these crops to the next level.

There's still a great deal of tidying to do on the raised beds, getting them ready to lie fallow over the winter months. A little and often is the best way forward.

I'll be back soon with further updates from Reads Retreat, and hope that you will join us again soon.

Till then,


Sunday, 23 November 2008

Heavy Snow - Not ! 23.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, the home of growing your own veg in Raised Beds. We awoke this morning to a light dusting of snow, not the arctic condition blizzards that were forecast! It lasted a couple of hours and was then washed away with torrential downpours, and then the sun came out! Dont you just love the British weather!
I didn't make it to the allotment today, but guess it was the same there too. Judging by the news reports throughout the day, we escaped the worse of it. Not much has happened here or at the plot this week, but i have started yet another blog. If you've been invited to our upcoming wedding, check it out for details of local accommodation. That's about it for now, except to wish D&K a Happy Anniversary - 7 Short Years ! Cheers!!!!


Sunday, 16 November 2008

NTR Nothing to report ! 16.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat. As the title states, there's no news from here today. However, check out :

to see where I've been hiding.

See you all soon,


Saturday, 15 November 2008

Sweet Pepper Progress 15.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat for our latest plot update.
As I have been promising for some time now, here's a snapshot of our first attempt at growing sweet peppers. This plant is bearing 3 fine fruits (look closely) , one has already turned red and the other 2 are just starting to turn. Cant wait now to slice one up and chuck it in a cheese sarnie! The plant has been brought indoors now, to protect it from the fast dropping temperatures, and it seems to be enjoying it's new home. Now that we have the allotment, there will be more room available next year to grow a good few more of the delish fruits!
Also today, I managed to string up the remaining climbing French Beans for drying out. I did not realise just how many were left on the plant. This snap is only about half of what i picked today, so i'm guessing we won't be short of seed for next year. These were a top cropper this year, outperforming the runners by a golden mile, and will def find them a place at the allotment. Secret squirrel wants to know if the dried beans can be used in stews ? I cant see why not, but maybe if you know you could let us know for sure. Ta.

I also managed a quick "catch up visit" to Plot 81 today, ahead of tomorrows planned time planting some cabbages etc. Click the link for more news from there.

Hope to see you soon back at Reads Retreat, till then,


Friday, 14 November 2008

Bowl of Beans (Version 2 ) 14.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat , Our guide to growing veg in Raised Beds.

I only managed to find half an hour spare today, but in that time i did manage to harvest the remainder of the Climbing French Beans (v. Blue Lake) which are now ready for stringing up to dry. Hope to get this done in the morning! Piccy to follow!

Sorry about the picture quality here ! This is my crop ( hahaha) of Raspberries, grown on the cane i brought from Wilkinson's earlier in the year. I would have taken a better photo, but my enthusiasm got the better of me and i ate them!
Hey ho, I'll be transplanting these to the lottie soon, and hope for better results next year! For the officianados amongst you, the variety on the pack read: Rasberry!!!!! Thats nearly as good as the other fruit cane i got from there: Blackcurrent !

Thats about it for now. Hoping to spend some time on Plot 81 over the next couple of days, and will share some more pics with you all. Till then,


Thursday, 13 November 2008

String of Beans 13.11.08

Welcome back to Reads Retreat - our guide to Growing your own veg in Raised Beds.
With so many jobs to get done on the plot, it's often a case of "Where shall i start " . Yesterday I managed to clear the runner bean wigwam away. Before this however, i harvested these bean pods for seeds to use next year. In the past I have usually dried them out by laying on some old newspaper (the pods, not me! ) , but read recently this idea of stringing them up. This method should ensure good air circulation around the pods, and help to prevent any mould from forming. Also, as the pods dry out ( and you can shake the beans in the pods ) they can simply be removed from the pods and placed in an airtight container, ready for use next spring. I thought this was a great idea, and thought I'd share the idea with you all too. I will do the same over the next couple of days as I complete the same task on the climbing french beans. All we now need is a modicum of dry weather, and of course some time!

I'll be in touch again soon!


Tuesday, 11 November 2008

90 Years of Rememberance 11.11.2008

Armistice Day is upon us again. Save a prayer for those who died, those who remember, and those that will never forget.


Monday, 10 November 2008

Time to start tidying up! 10.11.08

Welcome back once again to Reads Retreat, our guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds.
The home plot beds are in a bit of a mixed state right now, with some veg slowly but surely going to seed, whilst others are still yearning the warmth of the sun to reach their full potential.
I must admit that it has been a bit hectic here for the last few weeks, and the veg growing side of life has taken a bit of a back seat! We had a couple of weeks of being rather ill - sadly missing mum's 21st birthday bash, but luckily managed to spend a few days with her last week. Now we find ourselves in monsoon season ( how long will it last ? ) and are eagerly awaiting a break in the weather. First job on the list will be to take down the runner and french bean wigwams. We have had some great crops of beans this year, and managed also to give plenty away to friends and work colleagues. To me, this is all part of the fun of growing your own. The runner beans now left on the plants will be picked and put inside to dry out, providing seed for next years sowing, whilst the climbing french beans will just be removed to the compost pile. I save the former as the seeds originate from my late Grandad's garden - whom this blog is dedicated to, whilst the latter are so cheap to buy it makes less sense to save. Mind you, when it comes down to it, I'll probably end up saving some anyway!!!
With the canes removed, the plants will be cut down at ground level, leaving the nitrogen rich roots in the ground to rot down over the winter. These can then be dug in next spring, providing valuable nutrients for the next crop in the rotation.

Pop back tomorrow to see what else is going on !


Sunday, 9 November 2008

Basket of Fire ! 09.11.08

Finally....... Welcome back to Reads Retreat - "Our guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds", for what i hope will now be regular updates! You don't know how much we've missed having the internet connected at home. Lucky for me I have these blogs, otherwise would have lost all my garden pics from the last couple of years.
We have installed a brand new copy of windows, and an awful lot of data has been lost forever, but thankfully a lot of it is also safe and sound on flash drives!
I've been wanting to show some pics from the plot, and thought I'd start you all off on this basket of fire. It's my first year of growing Chili's, but this basket of Cayenne peppers have grown and still are growing beyond what I expected. This pic was taken yesterday afternoon, just after I harvested half a dozen fruits to send to D&K. As you can see, there's still a good few more to harvest, and they taste delish.

Dotted around the garden and the raised beds, there's a good few Chard plants. I grew 2 varieties this year: Zilver and Rainbow. Both are performing well, and at this time of year are providing some welcome colour. It's a strange ish taste at first, but we now find it a lovely addition to many dishes.
In the foreground are some lettuce ( v. unknown ) that I bought on my recent visit to the Victoriana nursery in Challock, Kent. They seem to be beating the slugs and putting on great growth. Cant wait to eat them !

Elsewhere on the plot:

My late sowing of Beetroot (v.Boltardy) are still putting on good growth, and are still swelling up. Not quite big enough to harvest just yet, but in the absence of any severe frost / cold snaps, they are still growing on well.
It was a bit of an experimental sowing, simply to use up some spare ground. Ok, it was Matron's idea / advice - so thanks for that. I must admit though, that the sight of empty soil ( after lifting the onions ) was a good time to try something like this.

There's still a fair bit to update you all on, but I'm a tad tired now - I've been up since 0430 this morning, so I'm gonna sign off for now. Don't worry though, there will be plenty more updates this week!

By the way, Secret Squirrel and I are tying the knot: 24th January 2009 at 2.00pm! Cant wait.

Take care all - see you soon.


Friday, 7 November 2008

Internet - At last ! 07.11.08

Greeting's from Reads Retreat, Our guide to growing your own veg in Raised Beds.

Finally we have home internet again, and cant wait to get going again with the blog.

The absence from the blog has been arduous, with our only access available at the local library.

Watch this space as we get you all up to date on whats happening on and around the plot.

Take care all, we'll see you soon.