Thursday 19 May 2016

Beans and stuff

spring is sprung

Today I have been mostly planting beans, but that's not just all that's been happening even if I haven't been recording it here. Here's a quick catch up now that spring has finally arrived.

breaking ground

How not to make an new vegetable patch from old meadow. My fault, things got delayed over winter and the designated patch only started to be prepared when we arrived at the end of March. The combination of the late start and some malfunctioning equipment has led to a novel approach to plot cultivation. Enter the erstwhile back hoe, last seen doing duty digging bean trenches in a previous season, now utilised as an all purpose turf stripper and earth turning implement.

It brings a new depth to double digging, and although permaculture buffs will be turning in their (shallow) graves it's going to make planting out the 400 or so oca in this newly designated Peru patch possible at all this year. It's slow work and not all done yet so the plants are hanging on in their pots and will be given a few doses of very weak liquid fertiliser to keep them in health while they wait. With luck they'll all be tucked up in the new beds by the 1st of June.

I should make particular mention of all the work Mr. Catofstripes has put in helping me with this mad foray into oca cultivation from putting up the little polytunnel to digging the area and finally fencing against deer including financing the whole project. He's actually rather lovely and it couldn't be done without him.

oak tree over meadow

There was a week of proper hot weather. It's over now and although the night temperatures are finally acceptable (we had a 2C night just a few days ago) it's not as warm as it might be, quite windy and the season seems delayed with the May blossom only really coming out in the last week.

This means that a lot of the more tender vegetables have been held back, either because I dare not plant the seeds or because seedling plants were chilled and refusing to grow. The okra that I have such high hopes for has been extremely sulky but is now beginning to make some growth. I could have probably waited to sow them another 3 weeks and they'd still be like this now.

okra 3

There's actually a lot more to record so I'll keep it to the point. All the spuds are in, there's a bed of yacon which I'm not sure I can spare the area for but it's done now. The peas are in situ and most of the beans - I've one patch of Riana Corbieres beans in the back garden for seed. There are two reasons for this, one is that the pods are so fleshy that it's best to let the earliest set mature and dry for the best quality seed production and the other is that I noticed some contamination of the type in the plants I grew last year and I want to be able rogue out anything I don't like the look of this year. The plants for eating won't need such attention but need to be well separated from the seed stock. That stuff they tell you about French beans being self fertile and not crossing isn't entirely true. There's a row of soy beans which are looking good at the moment, I'm hoping to harvest edamame rather than dry beans from them.

The sweetcorn Golden Bantam is finally up, another slow starter, and I have just 20 seeds of Oaxacan Green from an unlikely collection from a single plant last year. They've now been planted. I'll be hoping to separate the flowering times (locations as well but never by the recommend 2 miles!) so that I can multiply this back up again but actually it's a bit of a foolish ambition. You'll just have to humour me.

Possibly the latest I've ever started them, the ridge cucumbers Petit vert de Paris also went into the propagator today. I have no idea where these will be put but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.

News on the cucurbits and other tender novelties next time. This post is long enough!