Tuesday, 28 April 2015
In the last couple of years I've become a convert to bean trenching - digging a deep ditch where the beans are to grow and filling the bottom with organic material from grass clippings to vegetable kitchen waste before backfilling the topsoil and planting the beans. It's a good way of providing a well of moisture in high summer, using up compost materials that aren't fully decomposed and improving the soil at depth with little effort.
Even so I think I've gone a bit mad this year. Some of the land enclosed by our new deer proof fence is not of the best quality and has been lying fallow, growing docks and thistles for some time too. As part of the plan to recuperate this abandoned waste back into the productive plot I decided that a long row of beans and peas, with the associated trench, would be a good start. Digging such a trench, in stony compacted soil and twice the length I'd usually consider seemed like such exhausting work I co-opted the tractor in for the hard labour. A back hoe is a fine tool but maybe it's just a little bit over the top for this job.
There was barely enough room for the tractor to swing a cat but the job was done. It's remarkable how long and strong dock roots are when bodily dug out from their full depth. A day's work got the trench dug and filled with fully and half rotted stuff from the heap but now I have to push the topsoil back by hand after rain softened the surface so much that the tractor was doing more harm than good.
Still, I have high hopes for this bean row if all goes to plan and already have baby pea plants, Carlins and Irish Preans, started to be planted out. I've yet to select climbing beans but will certainly have some of the sort I call Corbieres (Riana's) beans and will grow dwarf Starley Road and Hutterite soup beans for winter use.