Tuesday, 24 March 2009


Just a quick update to let you all know that all is well.
We have plenty of germinated seeds, including Dwarf French Beans and Sweetcorn. Watch this space for more updates!


Tuesday, 17 March 2009

It's seed sowing time - Yippee !

Welcome back once again to Reads Retreat, our blogging diary of all things edible and colourful on our home plot. Over the last couple of months we've been busying ourselves getting ready for the growing season, and as if by magic, it's arrived. This week we finally got round to sorting the seed storage out! As we now have an allotment, as well as our home plot we have split the seeds accordingly into 2 separate containers. Wifey has hers and hubby has his !

Wifey got the home plot veg started this week, planting up the following seeds:
  • Sweet Pepper (v. Sweet Banana)
  • Broad Leaved Sage (v. Salvia officinallis)
  • Courgette (v. Zuchini Yellow)
  • Beetroot (v. Golden Detroit)
  • Beetroot (v. Boltardy)
  • Beetroot (v. Chioggia)
  • Courgette (v. All Green Bush)
  • Carrot (v. Purple Haze Hybrid)
  • Carrot (v. Flyaway F1)
  • Dwarf French Bean (v. ? Yellow)
  • Aubergine Organic (v. Black Beauty)
  • Basil (v. Sweet Genovese)
  • Basil (v. Dark Opal)
  • Sweetcorn (v. Swift Early)
  • Chilli Pepper (v. Anaheim)
Some of these e.g. the Beetroot, were planted directly in the soil in the raised beds, while some of the smaller seeded varieties are in modules / small pots in our conservatory. The one's planted in the Raised beds are now protected from unwelcome visitors with this mesh covered frame that I made from an old garden gate. The Chicken wire is cheap enough from Wilkinson's and was fairly easy to knock up. This should keep the pesky cats of the soil. I get really annoyed to keep finding cat poo from the neighbours pets, and take great delight in returning it to the rightful owners, under the cover of darkness! Dog owners are more responsible, but why should the cat lovers get away with it?

The Asparagus bed that was planted recently is also showing good signs. Only this morning we spotted some miniature spears (about half a centimetre tall) here and there on the bed. I've got high hopes for this bed, but appreciate that we won't be able to harvest any produce until at least next summer. It's a long term investment, but it should be worth waiting for. My only concerns are the location of the compost bin and the water butt, which have to be moved to let more direct sunshine onto the bed. I'll have to put my thinking cap on !

Also, we have planted our fruit bushes in the patio border bed. These were a wedding gift (via Garden centre vouchers) from Huw and Jane. The Tayberry on the left is already putting on good growth, and I've added a couple canes to support the growth. I will probably attach some wires to the fence panel to provide further support, assuming it grows of course! The second one is a Gooseberry, which is fairly thriving. There's already an abundance of foliage, and loads of buds, and I hope this bush will bear loads of fruit.

The Rhubarb (v. Timperley Early) that is now in it's second full year is growing at a tremendous rate. Over the last few months all I have done is top dress the crown with fresh compost every now and again, and it seems to have done the trick. I resisted the urge to "force" the growth, and it already looks like we will be rewarded for not doing so.
Looking forward to all those pies and crumbles already! Dont forget my list of cookery sites, plenty of inspiring ideas to be found there!

The Raspberry canes are also doing well. The 3 newer ones (v. Polka) are just starting to show some buds. I wasn't sure whether to cut these to ground level or not, so may have to research these a little more. The other unknown variety is going great guns and is full of buds and new leaf growth.
I can almost taste the jam!

As you can see, we have been busy! There's still loads to do, both here and at the allotment, but we ARE making progress!

Join us again soon for more updates.

Till then, enjoy your gardens. Please leave your comments!!


Where to begin ?

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, our guide to growing your own in Raised Beds. What a glorious day it is too, quite fitting in celebration of St Patrick's Day. Let's hope wherever you are, you're having a great day, maybe even quaffing a couple of glasses of the liffy water ?
There's been quite a lot happening here in the last couple of weeks. Mum got the ball rolling a couple of weeks ago, when she came to stay for a couple of days. Mum can't resist a weedy patch of earth, and quickly set about clearing the weeds from one of the borders in the back garden. Thanks mum!
Going against the grain somewhat, we have been busy planting some summer flowering bulbs. Seem's a shame not too really, especially considering how much time and effort mum has put in during her short visit. Hopefully we can now reward her next visits with some lovely colour ?We bought most of the bulbs relatively cheaply at a local market, as well as some from Aldi's & Wilkinsons.
These two are Anemone (Blue & White mixed), and Gladioli (v. Traderhorn & White Prosperity).

These 2 packs contained Sparaxis (Mixed), and Dahlia (v. Orange Nugget). The latter is one of wifey's favourites, and we couldn't resist buying. It's only 1 bulb, but should grow in size over the years. When it came to planting all these bulbs, we opted for the random look! We simply emptied all the bulbs into one big container, mixed them around and planted 1 by 1. It will be interesting to see how they all turn out!

The last 2 packs contained Triteleia (v. Queen Fabiola) and Lily (v. Asiatic Yellow). The former were purchased last summer at Aldi's in their clearance stock, and were hidden away ready to plant out this year. The Lily is also a favourite of Wifey's, and will hopefully provide a riot of colour. We also purchased a bag of 30 Freesia bulbs from Wilko's for just £2.00, and mixed these in the plantings too. Considering the small outlay (approx £8.00), we should be in for quite a show of colour!

Hopefully you will pop back soon and check on our progress! Hopefully all these flowers will help to attract the wildlife - specifically the Bee's, that are in such decline in our gardens.

Take care all, and enjoy your gardens / plots.


Sunday, 1 March 2009

Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

or Happy St Davids day, as we all say !

Not much to report on here at Reads Retreat, but check back soon for more news from the plots.