Tuesday, 22 May 2012

Beans 'n' Peas

Tuesday 22nd May 2012
Another dull start to the day, but eventually it warmed up and the sun shone all afternoon.

Today's task was to finish the beans 'n' peas quarter of the veg patch.

First, another sowing of peas to continue the succession. I've already got Early Onward and Kelvedon Wonder in, but I found some old collected peas from Twinkle, so I've tried these.
I'm not convinced by the virtues of growing peas. Yes, they're great fresh, but it takes so many plants to get a decent amount and the frozen ones in the supermarket aren't actually at all bad. Anyway, I'll trial these varieties and see which is best. It may be that I need them all to give a succession through the season. Again, I poked clippings of red dogwood into the ground to give the plants a framework to clamber over. But just look at the first lot of dogwood twigs - they're sprouting. By the end of the year I should have a decent crop of saplings.

Now Sugarsnap peas and Mangetout are a different story. Bountiful, delicious straight from the plant and at supermarket prices a valuable crop. I'm growing two varieties of Sugarsnap - Sugar Ann and Sugar Snap. The former I grew last year without much success, and so far this year it seems that the latter is growing with much more vigour. We'll see what the harvest is like before we make any snap decisions (see what I did there?) about next year.
As for mangetout, I grow a purple podded variety with an impossible name. It tastes as clean and fresh as the green, but adds a touch of interest and colour.

All my climbing peas are grown in with sweet peas and nasturtiums.

The runner plants are already transplanted outside and some have started to wrap themselves around their wigwam poles. Today was the turn of the more exotic beans. French beans, dwarf beans, climbing beans, Borlottis, Haricots (for baked beans), Butter Beans, Purple Teepee, Blue Lake, Canadian Wonder (for kidney beans).

The soil felt warm for the first time today. The water collected in old baths from the gutters was tepid as it trickled from the watering can over my fingers. I love it when beans push and shove their way through the soil and continue skywards at a staggering pace. If this weather continues they'll love it.

Now, if Gerry's daily catch is anything to go by, then there are certainly plenty of mice and voles around, enough to threaten young peas and beans. So I have elected this year to soak the seeds in paraffin briefly as a deterrent. But one of my bees took exception to the smell I think and buzzed me with annoying determination to the point where I had to scarper till it gave up.

Milk Carton Graveyard
If you'd looked in my veg patch mid afternoon, you'd have wondered what on earth was going on, with piles of dismembered milk cartons in piles on the grass. I've discovered that milk cartons are well designed to fit a cane tightly through the handle and to protect the young plants from the ravages of pests and the weather.
Some of my wigwams have wellies.

Since I mentioned the bees above, a quick update on the two hives. Hive A (the original, from which we removed the queen but left a few of the best queen cells) is buzzing well. In the warm weather the hive entrance and the surrounding air have been full of bees, many returning laden with pollen. Hive B (the new one into which we moved the queen along with frames of brood, honey, pollen and bees) is much slower, with just the occasional bee emerging or returning. But I still hope to find, when we can look in a couple of weeks time, that we have two colonies of bees.

Hive A - busy

Hive B - quiet

Asparagus Peas
I've grown this unusual vegetable for the last three years. Each plant forms a low growing clump and they carry the most richly coloured, delicate little flowers, much loved by bees. You eat the whole pod, plucked from the plant when it is only an inch of so long. I find the taste a little nutty, though it's supposed to taste like a cross between...you've guessed!...peas and asparagus.

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