Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Better pictures - we hope!

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat. Sadly there's still no news from the plot due to the persistently inclement weather. The ground is either sodden or frozen, and there's little that can be done at this time. On a more positive note, I'm now the proud owner of a new camera. This was a combined Birthday & Christmas present, from my in laws and Jen. I've been after a decent upgrade for some time, and this Fuji s7000 is a great replacement to my Fuji Finepix 3800. The latter has served me well, but this new camera is a far greater spec than i had before. All we need now is for me to get to know it! There's a huge instruction manual to read and digest, before i can switch off the "Auto" button. There's no rush and I'm looking forward to rediscovering some real photography.

Hopefully the next time you drop in, I can bring some news from the plot.

Till then, take care and enjoy your gardening.


Friday, 25 December 2009

Merry Christmas everyone

Hope you all have a fantastic day.

From all of us here at

Reads Allotment Retreat.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Crikey - that was cold!

A sharp frost again tonight, -7 according to the forecast.

Heating is on and I'm summoning up the courage to venture out to work!

Still, last day before xmas, then 6 days off Yippee!


Tuesday, 22 December 2009

It's pouring with rain!

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat, for a very quick update !

Woke this morning to gently falling snow and a frosty outlook. An hour later and it's pouring with rain! Long may it continue & melt the snow, then maybe we'll get to the plot!

Take care all,


Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Winter weather - it's here !

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat, where the winter UK weather has well and truly arrived. On sunday this week I ventured up to the plot amidst the showers to have a nose around - I was the only one there! That's got to be a first! The ground was very waterlogged - puddles all over the place, and there was no hope of turning any soil on that day.
Three days later and the tables have truly turned, we've had 2 nights of very sharp frost's, with last nights effort reaching a whopping -8Degrees. It's not all bad news though, as these frosts will help to break up the waterlogged ground that has already been turned. Hopefully the recently planted Garlic will benefit from the frost, and I'm looking forward now to lifting a few Parsnips. 2 more nights at work then I'm off for 4 days, back in for 2, then off till 30th December. It's all panning out nicely. It's hectic at home as we make final preparations for the yuletide festivities, but great fun too.

Pop back soon for more updates, and wherever you are - enjoy your gardening.

Take care,


Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Finally - some news from the plot !

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat, where finally i have found a break in the weather (dry but cold! ) coupled with me actually feeling a lot better! I've been absent from the plot for over a month - mainly due to illness - and was constantly thinking about all the work that needed to be done in getting ready for next season, let alone the onion and garlic sets that were sitting on a shelf in the conservatory - slowly starting to sprout.
When I arrived at the plot, i was both surprised and a tad upset to find my greenhouse up ended and flattened! That's without glass in it ! I guess all the strong wind of late had been enough to get it moving, Luckily, I managed to re-erect it and straighten the damaged frame, and make a note of the fact that i need to get this sorted !
Despite all the rain of late, i was pleasantly surprised to find that the beds were not sodden. Drainage is seemingly far better than I had imagined. We've had a lot of rain, for days on end (not as much though as the residents of Cockermouth) and its good to not see pools of water as expected.
This raised bed was my focus of attention for the day(5/12/09). It had been well weeded about 5 weeks ago, after we harvested the remaining squashes, but already was well weedy. The grass around the perimeter was growing over the timber frame, and the whole thing looked a mess. The bed is approx 20' x 4', so i divided it into "quarters" in my head and set about weeding, promising myself a coffee after each quarter! Thats the beauty of having a kettle and camping stove in the shed! The ground was wet enough to let me pull the weeds free with minimal use of a trowel, but the soil dry enough to still be crumbly. It smelt good too, mainly due to the fact that after the first early spuds were harvested earlier in the year, we dug in some spent hops as a soil improver before planting out the squash plants. After 2 hours i was ready to get planting:

The first in the ground were that Garlic cloves. I had bought 2 Garlic bulbs from Wilkinson's a good 7 or 8 weeks previous, and they were already sprouting 1 1/2" shoots. I laid the cloves out in 3 rows across the bed, spacing them approx 6" apart in all directions, which will not only give them space to grow, but also make it easier to weed between the plants as they grow on! I planted these about 2" deep, with the green shoots only about 1/2" from the surface, where hopefully they will quickly spring into life! Hopefully they will still have time to send down some strong roots, before the really cold weather sets in. Thinking next about how to define the spaces between the garlic and the onions, I decided to thin out the rows of Chard(v.Zilver) that had been planted late in the summer, and use these. Hopefully these will take quickly and grow on nicely too !
Next up were the Red Onion sets (v.Red Baron) . These were laid out on the surface in a similair fashion to the garlic (adopting the same spacings) before being gently planted up. Again, these were planted so that the growing tips were about 1/2" from the surface. I'm mindful of the fact that these have gone in quite late - about a month - but they have a better chance of growing in the soil than on my shelf at home!
All told, I've ended up with 6 rows of 8 onions. Like the white onions i planted next, these should be enough to give a good late spring crop, by which time i should have my onion seeds well and truly growing on. I love all this planning!

A wee while later i realised i had transplanted the Chard to slightly the wrong place, but couldn't be bothered to uproot them again, so i planted 2 rows of white onion sets one side of the chard, with 4 rows on the other. Best laid plans and all that!!
Some of these sets had just started to sprout, and as such were planted ever so slightly deeper than the red sets, so hopefully they will grow on at the same sort of rate? That's my theory anyway!

And there you have it! All nicely weeded and planted up!Oh, i forgot to mention : I also planted up 3 rows at the end of the bed with some Broad Beans (v.Aquadulce). These seeds were a free offer from Wiggly Wigglers, and being the kind of guy i am, i had to have 'em. Free, after all, is one of my favourite words !! And there's only really me that like the beans, so 20 or so plants should be more than adequate! And again, they've been planted very late, so may not come to much anyway.
Well, we hope you've all enjoyed the small update, and we look forward to welcoming you all back again, very soon!

Take care all, and enjoy your gardening,