The Annual Broad Bean Giveaway

The beans have been tremendously successful this year which can only mean that the Annual Broad Bean Giveaway will be more challenging than usual.

Broad bean glutThis event sees us sneaking from neighbour to neighbour trying to catch them unawares so we can thrust a carrier bag of un-podded and usually unwelcome beans into their hands.

Typically the neighbours are one step ahead of us and have closed the curtains, plunged the house into darkness and feigned longterm absence.

One may wonder why I grow so many unpopular beans. I don’t much care for them myself actually, but it’s hard to turn your back on the singularly most success crop and besides I do so enjoy the groans when I put them on the teenagers dinner plates.

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Sunbasked Garlic

Sunbasked Garlic

A lot of my crops have been cleared from the ground this month. I’ve just about eaten all the onions, both rows of broad beans have been scoffed and the remains have filled all three of my compost bins.

The plot is looking bare but at least the garlic looks promising.

Layered Strawberries

The strawberries have gone nuts producing runners faster than fruits so I’ve lopped most of them off. This particular variety are so tasty that I’ve kept a few back to propagate some more plants.

The peas won’t last an awful lot longer, Feltham First was a good variety for an early crop but they aren’t particularly tasty. They are very starchy and taste like marrowfat peas when they get a bit bigger. I might use them again for an overwintering crop but I’ll have to hunt around for a sweeter spring sown variety.

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Sacrificial Caullis

My squashes have not done at all well this year and if I don’t find myself buried under a glut of courgettes by mid Summer then I will have to declare myself an allotmenting failure.

I didn’t help myself very much by sowing 7 year old seed as the germination rate has been exceptionally poor. The fresh gherkin seed didn’t do too badly but my little plants were swallowed whole by the slugs and I’ve been forced to start again.

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Last week I planted my single successful courgette plant in amongst the sweetcorn, inter planted with climbing french bean “Blue Lake” in the classic Three Sisters arrangement. Since then it has done nothing but rain so I arrived at the plot this morning, convinced that a silvery trail would be all that was left of my gardening pride.

Thankfully the squash survived the week. I seemed to have provided an unintended decoy when I planted out my cauliflower seedlings on the same day. Every single one of them has been gnawed down to their flimsy little stumps. I had a few more left in the seed bed so these have gone out, along with a scattering of almost the entire packet of blue pellets. Slugs make me very angry.

I removed the earliest row of broad beans today, they were just about finished and I needed the space to plant out my purple sprouting broccoli and other assorted brassicas. I left the roots of the bean in for the nitrogen but the stalks have filled all 3 of my compost bins. I hope they compost down quickly as I’ll be removing the second row in a few weeks time.

Garlic

The garlic next to the beans are looking very sorry for themselves. All the foliage is badly covered in rust and although I must be a couple of months too early I have started to lift some of the bulbs.

They are drying off in the greenhouse now.

Lunch was an al-fresco delight today. I boiled up peas and broad beans on the trangia and tossed them in garlic and olive oil before adding a selection of the plot leaves – rocket, mustard, beetroot, spinach and mixed lettuce.

Finished off with a tonne of strawberries. These particular strawberries are so delicious I’m even prepared to share half with a slug, non will go to waste.

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Month in Pictures – April

Month in Pictures - April

Progress report for April

What a crazy month its been, at the beginning I was so worried about the broad beans that I resorted to exhaling over them in an attempt to thaw the snow cover and by the end of the month I was blistering in the sun.

I’ve planted out loads of the over zealous seedlings from the front room nursery and so yet again I am watching the weather with crossed fingers. Surely we can’t have a frost in May? I have the feeling that April is the pivotal month in the gardening calendar, we are so vulnerable and yet the temptation to get a head start with the tender crops is almost irresistible.

Here’s a quick spin around the plot (as at 27th April 2007) so I can compare progress this time next year.

Spud Hillocks

Starting next to the shed we have the spud bed, most of these have peaked through the surface but I am still able to keep on top of the earthing up process.

Spin to the right and you get the fruit area – strawberries, rhubarb, gooseberries and blackcurrant.

Strawberry Puddles

Then the second sowing of peas are coming though.

Pea Wave

Early Cloches

These are the cabbages I planted way back in week 1, I’m not terribly impressed with them. The blue ones are incredibly strong and need boiling for about a week before you can serve them. Some are riddled with white fly and most have juicy slugs living in the cosy hearts. I imagine I will compost these soon.

Next to them I have a few onions left but I’ll have eaten them all in a couple more weeks. As they go I am planting parsnips and carrots in their place, not having much success with either of these though, the carrots won’t germinate and something is eating my parsnips.

Beans, Garlic, Onions.

Here are the broad beans I’ve been so protective over. They seem to have survived although Ive probably lost some flowers and therefore productivity with the snow but I’ve eaten all the tips so far and started on the small pods.

Next to these we have the garlic – 2 forgotten varieties and the 2 overwintering onions.

Chard and Beans

I’m happy with this section.

Under the cloche are the ruby chard plants which are beautiful and tasty and productive which makes them number on my list. Next to it are my second sowing of broad beans, also now in pod.

Peas and Holes

Right at the bottom of the plot I have the first sowing of peas with a backdrop of pear and plum trees and a selection of holes awaiting my squash plants.

New Bed

On the other half of the plot we have the pond, a predominantly empty bed with sowings of french bean, kohl rabi and turnips.

Under the cloche are transplants of greyhound cabbage, they are pathetically small though.

Finally we have the bed with the 99p cloches. I’ve mostly got salad crops in here – mustard, rocket, radish, lettuce etc.

Salad Crops

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Sadly Barren

April Steamings

The title applies to me and not the plot which continues to be satisfyingly productive as todays steamer contents will confirm.

I had a phone call today from my parents who were happy yet a little puzzled to find my blog mentioned in the Saturday edition of the Telegraph under the section: Best Allotment Blogs. The puzzlement was not so much due to the broadsheet recognition but rather the manner in which I was described – “Earthwoman is a working mother who posts beautiful pics and regular updates on her plot.”

Now I would like to reassure my folks that I have not been hiding any grandkids from them and as a note to any new readers I have to say I am resolutely childless, but I do post quite nice pics.

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