Another Broadbean update!

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broadbeans June 9th 2016

Last time I wrote about the broadbeans was about 6 weeks ago; my, what a difference those 6 weeks have made.  The beans have grown, and flowered and some of the pods are very nearly ready to be harvested.


My father eats the young beans still in the pods, so I might try that, although I might have left it a bit late with these two ….. the thought of that furry pod linings puts me off a bit!

I have interplanted the broadbeans with brassicas.  One plot has been interplanted with Kale.

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redbor kale

The other plot has been interplanted with cabbage.

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savoy cabbage

My plan is that the butterflies will not notice them nestled amongst the broadbeans.  Moreover, the hungry brassicas will benefit from the nitrogen provided by the roots of the broadbeans and, while they are still young, the shade from their leaves.  We will see.

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view of the vegetable garden showing the squares with climbing beans and the squares with broadbeans

You may remember that the two plots of broadbeans have been treated differently as one was double dug, and the other had organic matter incorporated into the top.  So far there had been little noticeable difference between the two crops, although there was slightly more slug damage to begin with on the plot which had more organice matter on the surface.  In the picture above the plot that was double dug is furthest away.


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I want my soil to be ready to start planting within a few weeks.  The garlic is sprouting strongly and the roots are already showing underneath the pot.  Most of the broadbeans have now germinated and they too will want to be in the ground.  However, the soil is still cold and wet at the moment; not at all a welcoming for young plants.  So today I decided to do something about it.

First I prepared the soil in three of my beds by adding products that claim to improve the soil structure and microbial activity.  To the bed above I added calcified seaweed meal, growchar and compost left over from last years tomatoes.  I worked it into the top few inches of soil before covering with some empty compost sacks to keep off the rain and start to warm the soil.  Adding both products was not a particularly scientific thing to do; if the plants grow well I will not know what has caused the effect.  However, I will prepare other beds with just one or the other additive, or nothing at all, so that I can make a comparison.

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I also prepared the beds that I have earmarked for broadbeans.  One of these has been double dug (the one on the right), and the other has had the compost added to the surface.  Because I am comparing these different preparation methods I have made sure to do everything else exactly the same with these two beds so I added the same amount of calcified seaweed to them both and working that into the surface before covering them both.

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I hope that when I take the covers off in a couple of weeks time the soil will be warm and welcoming for my broadbeans.



What a Bargain

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One of the houses in our road was having clear out; I spotted this box of plant pots as I cycled by.  Chris was surprised when I brought them home as he thought that I had enough plant pots already; just shows how little he knows!

I spent Sunday morning happily washing pots; it took over an hour as there were so many.  They were mainly of the size that I use most when sowing seeds.

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What a bargain!

Watching Paint Dry

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Today was a mild damp day.  The soil was too wet and heavy to stand on.  Pulling up weeds was hampered by the great clods of clay which could not be shaken from their roots.  So I painted.  Chris is making great progress with the new compost heaps and he has made fronts that can be slotted in to make moving compost much easier; he thought that the fronts would benefit from a coating of wood preserving paint to protect them.  I mixed my own colour by combining two colours and got painting.  The only trouble is that it was such a damp day that I am not sure how long the paint will take to dry!

Growing Garlic

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I missed the boat planting garlic before Christmas, so today decided to play catch up by planting some in pots ready to plant out once the soil is a little warmer.

First I mixed some garden soil with some peat free potting compost, rubbing the two together rather like rubbing fa into flour when making pastry.  This made a lovely crumbly mixture.

Then I planted the cloves in 4″ pots.  I bought two bulbs from Garden Organic and was surprised that there were only 11 cloves in the two bulbs;they were so large and plump.  I should imagine that they should make lovely healthy plants.

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Then I put the pots in the cold frame so that they could start growing.


Double Digging

My soil is a heavy clay.  Although I have been adding home made compost to it for the last twenty years since we first made these deep beds the soil remains dense; cold in winter and like concrete in summer.  Today I took a new approach as I prepared the bed that I have ear marked for runner beans.

First I dug a trench at one end of the meter square plot.  I put all of the soil into a wheel barrow as I removed it.  As I did this the soil was mixed with the layer of home made compost that I put on top of the bed earlier in the 3.01.16 002

Then I forked over the bottom of the trench.  You can see the more yellow clay sub soil, I needed to be careful not to mix this with the top 3.01.16 003Then I added a layer of compost material, this included kitchen waste and some half rotten material from the compost heap.  Usually it is important to only add well rottend compost to the soil because of the ‘nitrogen robbery’ which occurs when micro organisms break down organic matter. However, because I am planning to plant beans which can fix their own nitrogen this is not an issue in this case.  I forked this into the sub 3.01.16 004

Next, I filled this trench by digging a new trench alonside the first one.  I then repeated the process until I had got to the end of the plot and was able to fill the last trench with the top soil from the wheel barrow.

garden 3.01.16 008The finished bed was noticeably higher than the bed next to it.  In the next few days I plan to top dress it with some more compost and cover it with a layer of cardboard.  I have half a mind to plant runner beans as well on the adjacent plot (currently underneath the pallets) so that I can compare the effects of double digging compared to my usual approach of applying a layer of home made compost once or twice a year.

Here you can see the profile of the soil prior to double digging.  The organic rich layer and the humus does not seem to be very deep at all before the clay is reached; this is clearly an aspect of the vegetable plot which needs a lot more effort!garden 3.01.16 006