Monday, 31 August 2009

End of the month update

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, our blog diary of growing your own veg in Raised Beds. Sorry for the lack of updates lately, regular readers will know that a lot of our efforts go into the Allotment, which is going well, whilst less effort is seen on the home plot. That said thought, we are still making rich pickings from the raised beds. Pictured here is our runaway success: These are dwarf yellow podded french beans which we had never grown before, but will definitely grow again next year. The plants stand about 18" tall, and bear large trusses of beans that start pale green and mature into bright yellow. They make a fantastic addition to the dinner plate, and add a splash of summer colour. Prior to planting I erected some 4' canes for support. I'm laughing now!!

Despite the messy appearance of our tomato plants, the yield is looking good as the toms are now starting to ripen at quite a pace. We have 3 varieties growing: Moneymaker, Gardeners Delight, and a Yellow Plum variety - the name of which escapes me! We have had minor issues with Blossom End Rot, but those affected were picked "green" and discarded. The rest it seems are doing ok. We have more plants dotted around the raised beds, some hidden behind other crops and some wherever there was some vacant land!
Our late planted Courgette plant is putting on good growth too. At first it seemed intent on just growing leaves, but now it is finally bearing fruit! We have lost a couple to slugs etc but that is to be expected. Now though it's looking good. There's at least 3 there ready to be picked, ranging from 4 - 6" long. Next year we are planning on growing many more of these up at the allotment, as they are a lovely tasting veg, and they can easily be frozen too. Maybe we can save a few for Christmas dinner ?

Talking of a "vacant" space in the beds, this Tomato (v. Gardeners Delight) was placed in a sunny spotand left to it's own devices! We grew far too many tomato plants for the space available - or should i say far more germinated than we had expected! I even gave half a dozen or so plants to my neighbour as we had no room left. Mind you, I always think that some of the fun from growing your own is giving some away!

Talking of late sown plantings, these 2 courgette plants were only transplanted to their growing position a few weeks ago. They were "found" in the conservatory, and we thought it best to get them in. Even if the planting is too late to provide some fruits, then at the very least we'll get this show of late summer colour! And if pushed, we could just eat the flowers!!

Another late sowing (a trend here perhaps ?) was this Sweetcorn (v.Swift Early). We had never grown this before and we were eager to try. We have been astonished by the growth rate, and have already harvested our first cob! Shared 4 ways at the dinner table, it was delish.
It seems a bit hit and miss when it comes to harvesting - are the brown silks really the best indication of ready ?

A lesson well learnt now, is that you cant plant 4 x Butternut Squash plant (v.Hunter) in a bed that is 3' x 3' ! Well, you can, but the leaf growth soon romps away from the bed. We have had to cut stems back at various times throughout the summer, but the result has been worthwhile:

This specimen is at leat 8" long, and about 4" girth. All we need now is a bit more sun to ripen it off! And there's me only yesterday praying for rain! There's a few more small fruits too. This is something we will grow more of next year too. Its only recently that we started to eat them, and they do taste superb. We got the seeds from from the BBC Dig In promotion, details of which can be found here. Go and have a look, and bag some free seeds!

Final pic for today, is this Passion Flower which is growing wild in the border. It seems that the bounty of fruits are ripening off, so maybe we can harvest these too. I've not tasted them before, so am keen to give them a go.

Thats all for today folks, hope you've enjoyed our update!

A quick hello too to Aunt Ann, who is visiting the UK again at the moment - hope you have a lovely stay.

Pop back soon all, for more updates from Reads Retreat.

Enjoy your gardens,


Wednesday, 12 August 2009

10,000 Visitors!

Well almost, can't believe that my site is so appealing, but thank you all for visiting over the years.

How long to get to 20,000 visitors!


The Glorious Twelth

In loving memory of

Nana Read

on the one hundredth anniversary of her Birthday

Loving memories - in our hearts forever.


Friday, 7 August 2009

Harvested this week

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, the place for Home Grown veg in Raised Beds. These 2 Beetroot (v.Boltardy) were pulled on Monday, and put straight onto the pot for cooking. Food miles ? What are they! These 2 roots were about cricket ball sized, and once cooked, served up for tea. What a lovely taste. We harvested a yellow rooted variety at the same time, but unfortunately the slugs and snails had found it first. It seems they like the yellow ones in preference, and that may put us off growing them again. We've had a couple of good ones, but the Boltardy remain our favourite.

Midweek, we pulled some Spring Onions, and Ruby was only to happy to pose for the camera with them. These onions taste superb, and put the shop brought varieties to shame. They have a lovely peppery sweet taste, and this is definitely something we plan to grow more of.
We have also had regular pickings of our cut and come again lettuce(v.Lollo Rosso), which never seems to hang around long enough to be photographed! We have enjoyed a really crop for some time now, surprising really as we only 2 x 3foot rows of it!

The runner beans that Ruby helped to plant are growing really well too. This variety is not truly known, as the beans have been grown year on year from Grandad Read's stock of seeds. Bless him, I think of him every time I look at the plants. Hopefully this year we can store away a few more seeds for future years growing. They always perform really well, and seem to attract the Bee's in large numbers.

This late planted Courgette plant is finally bearing fruit - 5 at the last count in various stages of growth. We continue to feed and water it, and at last we are getting closer to our reward. We are growing a lot more varieties up at the plot, and these too are putting on great growth.

Its a lovely time of the year at the moment, as most of our time can be spent enjoying the garden space and harvesting crops as we go.

That's all for todays update, but we look forward to welcoming you back to Reads Retreat in the very near future.

Take care all, and enjoy your gardens.


Sunday, 2 August 2009

Update from the home plot::

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, our home plot guide to Growing your own veg in Raised Beds. There's been quite a lot going on recently both at the plot and at home too, with veg growing on really well, in spite of the very changeable weather of late. This pic shows one of our Tomato plants, now overflowing with green trusses of toms, just waiting for the sun to ripen them off. Looks like we should get another decent crop this year. We are also growing some Yellow toms for the first time, and cant wait to try them.

Our late sowing of Dwarf Yellow podded French Beans are starting to shine, with an abundance of pale yellow / white flowers, bearing the promise of beans to come. This planting - a half a dozen plants - was more of a space using exercise than anything else, and it looks like we'll be well rewarded for our efforts.

Our "small" plot of Butternut Squash(v.Hunter) plants are growing well too. Flowers are starting to form on the ever growing plants, and where the flowers form, we are removing some foliage to let the sun in. We've not grown these before, but the seeds were free and we had a bit of space. As the plants will grow up to 20' long, they will easily outgrow their allotted space, so we are now trailing the stems over the paths. One for the allotment next year we think!

One one remaining Courgette "Zucchini" is now starting to put on good growth. Again, this was a late planting. Despite the best efforts of the local slug population, we are now starting to see some fruits forming. We have a lot more plants growing at the allotment, so we should end up with a few for the table!

Our first effort at growing Sweetcorn seems to be on track. We have about half a dozen plants in this block, and we are carefully nurturing them as they grow. Cant wait to taste some freshly buttered cob's !

Our Rhubarb has done exceptionally well this year, provide large quantities of fruit. Apart from the usual "Crumble's" we've also got a large stock of jams including "Rhubarb & Ginger", and a mixed fruit jam consisting of Plums, Rhubarb & Gooseberry. Yum . Let us know if you want any of the recipe's !

And finally, what garden could be complete without a hanging basket or two ? These were created by Jen, and with regular watering are flowering profusely. They need a lot of dead heading, but then they do attract a lot of bee's.

That's all for now. We hope your gardens & plots are doing ok too.

Take care all and pop back soon for more updates.