Tuesday, 24 March 2009

Seed sowing has begun....

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat. As you are all aware, I was not able to get to the plot today, so decided to make a start on the seed sowing. I've held out as long as I could, not wanting to start too early as in some previous years. Also, Ruby was very keen to help. After she had covered herself in fresh compost, we managed to also fill a couple of dozen toilet roll tubes too, before planting up our first batch of Parsnip (v.Hollow Crown). Somebody asked me recently why I stick to this variety, when there are so many to choose from. Its simple, these grow great and taste delicious. The runner beans in the pic wont be planted for a good couple of weeks yet, you never know how late the frosts will be! That's about it for now. Drop back soon for more updates.

Till then, enjoy your gardens / plots.


Its Tiller Time!

Morning all and welcome back to our allotment blog.
Bill is visiting today, and bringing his tiller with him to go over the beds on the plot. Should be interesting - I've never used one of these before. The beds were all dug and weeded last year, and now just need a bit more work to ready them for planting. I've heard mixed reviews on kit like this, so you'll have to check back later to see how we get on.


Unfortunately Bill has injured his back, and is unable to drive. Let's hope he recovers soon, and that we can reschedule the tilling.


Thursday, 19 March 2009

Seed Sowing chart - for reference!

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat. Many of you have been asking me:"When is the best time to sow seeds?". The answer sadly is never straightforward, as sowing times often depend on many factors such as the weather, soil types, position, to name a few. There are though, a plethora of readily available guides, such as this one which came in a recent magazine supplement(Harrod Horticultural). (Double click on the picture to view full size). Remember though, these are only guides, but they do help you to plan ahead. Planning after all, is the key, and you cant do enough of it. Make notes as you go too, then the following year you can easily measure your success / failure , and continue to learn.

Good luck to you all!

Pop back soon for more updates from the allotment.


Wednesday, 18 March 2009

Tree's on the move

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat - Plot 81.
There's been a bit more activity on the plot in the last 7 days. The most notable thing being that we have moved our tree's. This happened after a lengthy discussion with the Allotment Society, the full details of which are not worthy of print in this media. Suffice to say, we have redesigned our layout, to accommodate all 4 tree on our plot. I'm glad in a way that we did this now, rather than a few months down the line. Hopefully we have not stunted their growth too much by uprooting and replanting - only time will tell.
As you can see a bit clearer in this pic, I have had one of the large beds rotavated and made ready for planting. This was a chance occurrence after meeting my new neighbour. He had hired a machine to turn over his new plot, and he was only too happy to turn this bed for me too - Cheers Mark. Thats gonna save me a weeks digging! I have also asked my father-in-law to help out with his Mantis Tiller, and we hope to get this done in the next week or so. Time really has flown by, and this will be a great help to get the beds ready for planting.

Wifey has been busy too, getting Reads Retreat going with various plantings of seeds and bulbs. It really is gonna be busy this year as we try and juggle time between here and home. We're sticking with the adage of a little & often, and time will tell if this will work!

Thats all for now, but please bookmark us and come back soon.

See you then,


Wednesday, 11 March 2009

Beware - Sharp Frost !

Welcome back, to Reads Allotment Retreat.
Last night we had a sharp frost here in Kent, a stark reminder not to start planting out too soon. Reading my blog notes from last year it seems we had snow in April, but you cant account for all eventualities. Even so, any planting outside is still a way away. I popped up to our plots yesterday, and met our new neighbour Josie. It'll be nice to have a regular visitor to the neighbouring plot. Still not much happening up there, as I continue to juggle work commitments with free time. At least there is some activity in the greenhouse. This pic shows the first and second earlies chitting away well. Yesterday afternoon i put up a higher shelf on the opposite wall. This space is now home to these pots, where they are now closer to the light, they should put on good chit growth. I examined each tuber yesterday, and removed all chits except the one growing on the crowns. Some say this is a wasted exercise, but each to their own eh ? It seems to pay dividends to me, so I'll keep doing it.

I have been advised by a fellow fruit tree grower, that I have planted my fruit trees ; specifically the Victoria Plum, too close to an existing Damson tree, which could lead to pollination problems. With that in mind; and after a discussion with Josie, we have agreed to move the trees to a different location. The Plum tree will be moved onto the plot, whilst the other 3 trees will be resited. Lets hope they have not established too much, although I'm sure that any resiting will stunt their growth somewhat.

Thats about it for now, but pop back soon for more updates.


Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Tree mendous !

Welcome back to Reads Allotment Retreat, our new diary blog for our allotment. There's been no activity on site for the last month, mainly due to an all "time consuming" new shift pattern at work, which we are still trying to get used to. There's still been plenty going on at home though, and the spuds are chitting away merrily. Mum visited last weekend, and went home with half a dozen seed pots to plant up at home. Wifey and I managed a brisk couple of hours on the plot today, and we managed to plant our 4 new fruit trees that up until now have been in the frost free greenhouse. After purchasing 4x1.2Metre stakes from a local timber company for a mere £4.14 incl vat, we set off for the plot. The first Tree planted was a Victoria Plum - a Wedding Gift from Huw & Jane. This variety is self fertile and does not therefore need a companion tree for pollination. (This is bottom left in the pic). The next one in was a Conference Pear. This variety is Partially self fertile, and as such I was glad to see fellow plot-holders in the immediate vicinity have also planted the same variety(bottom right in pic). This was followed by a Bramley Apple, which requires a pollinator tree(top left in pic), in this case we chose an Elstar Apple(top right in pic). All of these tree's; once established, could theoretically grow in height to 25', so pruning will be essential to keep them at a manageable height.
Prior to planting the trees, i checked on the RHS site for advice on staking. There's not much you won't find on the RHS website, it's well worth a look when you have a few moments!

The latter 3 trees were purchased from Aldi, at the price of £4.18 each. I found this to be too much of a bargain to miss, and It'll be a long time I guess till I next see fruit trees at that price. The labelling on the individual packaging reads:
  1. Conference Pear: Partly self fertile. Height is dependant on variety and pruning, and can vary from 6' to 30'. Picking time is Late September. Thrives in heavy soil. Yippee !A superb dessert pear of medium fruit. Juicy firm flesh. Easy to grow.
  2. Bramley Apple: Requires Pollinator (Granny Smith, Elstar, Cox's Orange). Height is dependant on variety and pruning, and can vary from 6' to 25'. Picking time is October. Thrives in a sunny, well drained site. A heavy cropper of extra large fruit. Excellent flavour. The most popular culinary variety of vigorous habit. Keeps well.
  3. Elstar Apple: Pollinator for Bramley Apple. Height is dependant on variety and pruning, and can vary from 5' to 25'. Picking time is October. Thrives in a sunny, well drained site. A medium dessert apple, which stores well. It is juicy and has outstanding flavour. A heavy cropper.
Plenty of information there to keep me going. I guess now we'll have to read up on pruning techniques!

There's sure to be loads more updates soon, and we look forward to your next visit.

Till then, enjoy your gardens.