I planted out my Broadbeans (Fava Beans) this week. I had started them off from seed about three or four weeks ago in these biodegradable pots. I just popped the whole thing in the ground and tucked them in. Nice and easy.
The roots were just about popping out from the bottom of the pots so it was a timely re-plant.
I do like the vibrant green of the Broadbean seedling. It’s a great foil to the cold and wet grey days we’ve been having here. And it feels good to get that much of the garden ‘planted up’. The variety is Windsor.
Although, the size of yeild compared to the ground space they use up is quite low, that doesn’t matter because Broadbeans are a great early cropping plant. Soon enough they will be gone and composted to make room for a later crop like sweetcorn, Tomatoes, or Pumpkin. They definitely earn their keep in my garden.
I ordered some red onion (variety Red Zeppelin) from Johnny’s seeds and expected to receive some onion sets (the miniature onion type) but these came instead. They are dormant starts.
As I understand it they are plants started from seed, grown during the winter then uprooted when the weather gets cold. The soil is knocked off and they are kept in cold storage like this until Jan/Feb when people like me buy them and plant them in their gardens. So in effect they are onion seedlings that have been grown for me.
It’s interesting. I’ve never grown onions like this before so I’ll be watching closely to see what difference they make. I have bought some conventional sets just to make me feel safe. I fear change, really I do!
It’s time to start my Peas. I sowed these a few weeks ago in the greenhouse and they’ve grown beautifully. They are Green Arrow and should grow into sturdy bushes about 60cm (23 inches) high. I cut some pea sticks from a tree in the front garden for them to grow up.
I used to grow Peas in lengths of guttering which works fine for small areas. But I found that I increasingly wanted to grow more and more Peas and the lengths of guttering simply didn’t hold enough Peas for me.
So in the last few years I have started a few Peas off under cover (either a coldframe, under fleece or this year in the greenhouse) and then I have dug a wide trench and put the sprouted Peas at one end. I then sowed the rest of the trench with seed successionally over the next few weeks. This should result in a nice wide area for Peas that produce pods gradually from one end. That’s the theory anyway.
I planted these out yesterday and of course last night we had a fairly hard frost. The Peas were fine! They really are hardy little plant.
One area that’s really coming together in the garden is this section that I planted up in a sun-burst design. The cut and come salads are really working well next to the Mizuna.
And these Peas look great against the Greyhound Cabbages.
There are some gaps where I’ve harvested things. I have sown some Chicory in the gap in the middle and its already come through. I’m also waiting for my mid-season Carrots to grow and fill their row. The Lettuce on the far left is Lobjot’s Green Cos, and at the top of the sunburst you can see my Seakale is also growing very well. It’s definitely more difficult than I thought to keep every row in action though. I’m almost loathe to pick things for fear of ruining the design – which, erm… is not really the point, is it?
I planted my Salad Potatoes, Pink Fir Apple, today. They have been happily chitting on the kitchen windowsill for about a month. Ideally, I would chit them in the shed near a window but the mice can’t be trusted after they swiped my heritage varieties a few years ago.
I planted them about 10cm deep, and covered them over with a small mound. I only did one row this year. I was tempted not to grow Potatoes at all as they do take up a lot of room in a small garden. But I couldn’t resist putting in some Salad Potatoes so that when the Broadbeans and Spring Onions come in I can make my seasonal Potato Salad recipe.
I planted my Shallots today. I have saved them from last season’s harvest. I can’t quite remember what variety they are but they’re a round sort (not the banana ones) and they are similar to Golden Gourmet. I chose the biggest, firmest ones. Then dug over the soil, used my dibber to make a hole and popped them in, pulling in a bit of soil around them so that just the tip was sticking out. Ideally you want them 15cm (6in) apart in rows 23cm (9in) apart.
The birds will probably pull them up once or twice, if they can get past my cunning cats. But if you keep pushing them back in then they will root eventually. Once Shallots get going they are a great addition to the Spring kitchen garden. Their bright green blades in neat little bunches look fabulous when there is little else starting to grow. So getting them going early is good for aesthetics.
They are one crop that can’t tolerate sharing their bed with weeds so I always put a bit of mulch round them once they start to sprout. It will keep the weeds down and means less bending and picking for me.
I was looking back through the archives and I don’t think I’ve ever done anything on how I plant Leeks. So, since I planted some this week I think now’s the time.
Firstly, I sowed some Leek seeds in modules in early Spring. They were in the coldframe but for the last month or so they’ve been in the sunny corner of the garden, just waiting until they are big enough to plant out.
I make a hole with my dibber, hold one of the Leeks and snip off about a third of the root system.
I do the same with the tops. I’m not sure whether this system is in vogue or not but I’ve done it for the past five years after one of the old guys at the allotment told me I should. I think it is to encourage more growth and to not over tax the small plant. But anyway it works for me.
Then I place the small Leek into its hole, and fill the hole with water. To my knowledge, no other vegetable is planted in this way. I like the fact that Leeks have their own special system. And I find it much more interesting than just bunging it in the ground. Makes me feel like a ‘real’ gardener!
My Gherkins are almost ready to plant out. I sowed them about a month ago under fleece outside. They germinated quite quickly but then some bad weather meant that they have been growing very, very slowly. The sunny weather last week has quickened them on a pace though. And now they’re nearly ready to go out.
I’ll plant them in a sunny patch with a cane for each one to grow up. You can grow them along the ground like Cucumbers but I find that they use up too much room that way. From seven plants I should get around six or seven Gherkins per plant which means around 50 pickles! Yey!
These are my Borlotti Beans that I sowed a while ago under cover in my coldframe. They germinated within a few days and have been happily growing ever since. They are getting a bit big now so I think it’s time to plant them out.
I’m pretty sure that the risk of frost is over and we have a good forecast for the week ahead. But I’ll keep an eye on the weather report just in case there is any freak weather – in which case I’ll throw a bit of fleece over them for the night. But they should be fine.
I’ve put up my traditional bean poles, tied together with some garden twine. And I filled the trench with half-rotted compost about a month ago so I think they’ll be very happy in their new home.
I’ve never grown Borlotti Beans before – I’ve always grown Runner Beans. I’m intrigued to see what colour the flowers are and how the red pods look against the green foliage. It will be a first for me!