Sunday, 29 November 2009

Birthday Spuds!

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, where Spud (that's me!) is celebrating - it's my Birthday. We also bring more news of the Christmas spuds, that are growing at a rate of knots. The shoots are now almost at the top of the bucket, and as soon as this update is finished, I'll be earthing the shoots up again. We're really quite hopeful that we'll be able to eat some freshly dug spuds with our Christmas dinner, and with 4 weeks (ish) to go, it's looking promising. No other news from the plots today. Maybe if the weather actually brightens up a bit - the rain is lashing down right now - then we'll get out into the garden or up to the plot! Right now I'm just gonna sit back and chill out - enjoy my birthday. There's a joint of beef in the oven, cake freshly made this morning, and the outlaws on their way over. Life's good right now.

Take care all,


Friday, 27 November 2009

Spuds update

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, for a quick update on the new potato's! Yup, you read that right - new spuds! We planted 4 small seeds in a bucket just a couple of weeks ago (14th) and already they are growing really well. This picture taken 2 days ago shows just how well they are doing! No extra care has been taken, they are just being watered on a regular basis. After this shot was taken, the shoots were "earthed up" to just below the leaves with fresh multi purpose compost. Already, 2 days later, they have grown another inch! Not sure if we'll be able to harvest these on Christmas morning or not, but wouldn't it be lovely ! Not much to report from the plot I'm afraid, just that we're continually scouring the seed catalogue's for new varieties to try !

We hope the recent bad weather has not dampened your gardening enthusiasm, and hope you will pop back soon for another update from Reads Retreat.

Take care all,


Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Spuds are sprouting!

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, where we bring you the good news that our spuds are sprouting already ! I know it's hard to see from the picture, but 3 of the 4 tubers are sprouting. The largest is at the 1 o'clock position in the pic!
It certainly is a reassuring sight, i was beginning to think we had left it too late for these to grow. But, wouldn't it be nice to dig them Christmas morning, and eat them the same day !
Not much else to report from RR. The wind and rain continues virtually unabated, and not much is getting done with the raised beds. If there's an opportunity today, I will cut back the asparagus fronds, and cover the bed with a layer of home made compost.

Hope you will pop back soon for more updates .

Till then, enjoy your gardening,


Sunday, 15 November 2009

Grandad's Plant Labels

Welcome back to Reads Retreat.
The weather is improving somewhat, we now have all the ground floor windows open, and the sun is shining through. It feels quite warm to boot!

I was just "pottering" in the conservatory, and stumbled across a jam jar full of plant labels, that I inherited and stored away for posterity.

I thought it would be lovely to "re-create" some of the fine flower displays that Grandad always had in his gardens, and so to the labels - a great place to start:

  • Tulip v.Lily
  • Hardy Annuals
  • Clarkia
  • Chrysanthemum v. Allouise / Garden Bloom
  • Chrysanthemum v. Tone Gambol
  • Arcadia Gold
  • Hollyhock v. King Alfred
  • French Marigold v. Ballet Girl
  • Geranium v.Trull's Hatch ? (half a doz. of these labels)
  • Silverdale
  • Orange Beauty
  • Swan River Daisy
  • Salvia's Pink
  • Sedum Acre
  • Morning Glory v. Madeleine Queen
  • Pansy - Imperial Antique shades
  • Aquilegia v. McKana's Giant Mixed
If you can help in identifying any of these plants / names, it would be appreciated. Info on stockists etc also much appreciated. I'm off to surf the net now too see what i can find!

That's it for now.

Take care and enjoy your gardens.


A change in the weather

Welcome back to Reads Retreat.
Its a cold and wet wintery morning, still having the torrential downpours, but the good news is that the fencing around the garden managed to survive the elements last night, If you could see some of the fence panels you'd be as surprised as us!

I made a start yesterday sorting out the seed packets ! Loads more to do here, but getting there slowly. I'll be having a clear out too - some of the seed is past its recommended sow by date - and these will be replaced. I don't like to throw seed away, so if you want any, let me know! All i ask is you make a donation to cover postage - you can do that via Paypal!

Watch this space, I'll post the list as soon as possible!

That's all for now, take care all & enjoy your gardens!


Saturday, 14 November 2009

A spud gamble!

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, where only yesterday I was planting some first earlies spuds! Way back in the spring, our darling daughter Ruby planted 1 seed potato in a patio container - this being a concrete boot ornament - which was never going to amount to a great harvest, but we didn't want to knock her enthusiasm. Sure enough, the plant put on great growth. When the time of harvest was reached, Ruby was delighted with this haul of new potato's. 4 of the spuds were about an inch in diameter, and the other 3 were about pea size! Not wanting to seem ungrateful, i told her we would keep them to use later! They sat in the conservatory all summer, and when they recently started to chit I fell upon the idea of planting them up - maybe they will grow some new spuds in time for Christmas? What the hell, we've got nothing to lose:
I started off with a 3" layer of multi purpose compost in a B&Q bucket, then placed the larger of the 4 tubers onto the surface, before covering with a further layer of mp compost. These have now been well watered. We plan to keep / grow them in the unheated greenhouse, hoping the extra warmth vs. being outside will help with the growth. Maybe we'll feed them with tomorite when they start to grow ? And who knows, we may get treated to a few new spuds for Christmas day. This is; after all, the fun of gardening. The best way to find out if something works is to try it!
We'll keep you posted.

That's all for now folks, but pop back soon for more updates from RR.


Friday, 13 November 2009

Rain rain rain !

Welcome back to Reads Retreat where so far - last 24hrs - we've had over an inch of rain! It's coming down in "stair rods" as my friend PC used to say. There's been no let up at all, and I'm glad at times like this that I fixed the conservatory roof!
Not that there's much I can do anyway, recovering as i am from viral pleurisy. To top that, I now have "Man Flu" too, as do all the family.
There are a couple of things that i need to get on with, like sorting out the seed storage boxes and placing orders for next year. There's also some new potatoes to plant up - yup , you read that right, and I'll do that later and explain myself.

I hope wherever you are that you are coping with this deluge, and we look forward to welcoming you back to RR in the near future.

Take care all,


Sunday, 8 November 2009

91 Years of Rememberance 08.11.2008

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

In Flanders Fields

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead.
Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch, be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die

We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae


Thursday, 5 November 2009

Toms and Leaf Mould !

Welcome back to Reads Retreat, after what seems like a very long time! Our absence has been partly due to the inclement weather, as well as a couple of other factors. Mum #2 has been a tad ill of late, and we have been visiting her on a regular basis. Thankfully she is going home today, and we'll be off to see her soon. I have also been a tad ill, and am just getting over a bout of Viral Pleurisy.
On the garden front, the raised beds are very nearly finished in terms of this years growing. There's still a few Beetroot growing, but that really is about it. The fronds on our Asparagus crowns are starting to yellow, and these will soon be cut back for the winter. Over the next couple of months we'll be adding some manure as a mulch dressing, and we'll probably use the spent compost from our tomato tubs on this bed too. The raised beds have really struggled with the dry summer, and the soil was really baked and starting to open up large cracks. The level of the soil has also sunk somewhat, and again this will be replenished over the winter.
Our previous post regailed the news of our last tomato harvest - hehehe - how wrong we were! The picture above is of our last harvest. There's a good mixture therein, including Yellow Pear, Gardeners Delight, and Moneymaker. Clearly the majority are not ripened, and will be used in green tomato chutney (anyone got a good recipe?), to add to our store cupboard!
The only other item to report today is that we have started collecting leaves to use as leaf mould. There's a lot of praise for this soil conditioner, and although it will take a good year to rot down into something useful, it is free. On that basis we'll give it a go. There's plenty of falling leaves in our driveway, and we'll collect these and see how we get on! We'll store them in a garden refuse sack in the corner of the plot, and keep our fingers crossed for next year!

That's all for now folks, but pop back soon for more updates from Reads Retreat.