Saturday, 26 November 2011

Sowing beans and peas

It was a chilly start to the day but it turned into a beautiful morning and we have been busy in the garden planting four deep beds with peas and beans. We added a sprinkling of lime to each bed, as legumes like a pH of between 6-7, and the soil is much improved in structure with the addition of manure over the last eighteen months. Straw mulches on previous crops have also broken down to improve what was a very clayey soil. The soil is now quite friable and very moist from the rain we have had recently, all of which should help the legumes germinate quickly.

We planted two beds of broad beans, one with french beans and one with peas. Dwarf French beans are usually sown in March but we are experimenting with a November sowing and we will have to see how they develop.

Broad beans are sown 4-5cm deep and 25cm apart in all directions and should germinate in 7-14 days Stakes are needed to support the plants as with the weight of the pods the plants become quite heavy. The tops are usually pinched out when sufficient pods have formed to deter blackfly who love the soft tops. If blackfly do become a problem spray with soapy water, using a eco washing-up liquid. Harvesting is usually undertaken in 140-175 days, small pods can be enjoyed whole or left to mature and dried for later use. Yields usually average 5kg from a 3 meter row.

Dwarf French beans are sown 2.5cm deep, 15cm apart and in rows 45cm apart. It helps to mulch the bean plants once a reasonable size to help retain moisture. The beans are usually harvested in 56-70 days after sowing when the pods are about 8cm long. Regular picking helps to extend harvesting . Yields are usually 6kg from a 3 meter row.

Peas are sown 2.5cm deep and 7.5cm in all directions. Peas enjoy a fertile, deep worked and good draining soil. Ours must be ideal, as we got a very good crop last year. Netting needs to provide to support the peas. Harvesting is usually in 12-16 weeks and regular picking extends the harvest. You can usually expect a 4.5kg harvest from a 3m row.

Remember - a garden is a good friend you can visit everyday.

Our seeds are in and now we await the wonder of nature. Back into the garden this afternoon to sow one more bed of peas, one of dwarf French beans.and some onion sets for spring onions.

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