Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Beans, beans, beans.

Against all tradition, the bank holiday weekend we've just had gave us some most glorious weather.
So it was time for a drastic haircut.

a haircut for the orchard grass

a haircut for the hay meadow
(thanks Don)

and my twice yearly haircut.
I paid for it with burnt ears, a rather raw neck and sore temples. For, as I took advantage of the sunshine and put in a very long weekend outside, areas of skin long-covered by my rather wild hair were exposed to ultraviolet rays for the first time in a long while.

In the veg patch, this weekend was all about the beans. They have been growing happily in the protective environment of the polytunnel but, now that all danger of frost has passed (I sincerely hope), they will grow into stronger plants in the soil outside.

During last week the Runner Beans went in. I have changed varieties this year. As with all my beans, I have prioritised stringlessness. Much as I like to grow heritage varieties, I find a stringy bean somewhat akin to a fish full of bones. So, for the runners, I have plumped for two varieties. Armstrong, a red flowered cultivar, and White Lady, surprisingly a white-flowered type, but more significantly white beans for drying.

I ran out of time to dig trenches for the beans, which should be
filled with compost, newspaper and all manner of rotting
So instead, I transplanted each young plant onto a bed
of comfrey leaves, which should provide plenty
of goodness as they rot down.

Some French Beans have gone into the ground in the polytunnel too.
Yardlong (though the beans are best harvested before they reach this length), Cobra, Pea Beans (again for dried beans) and climbing Borlottis.

The spares have gone outside to brave the British weather. But my main French bean variety outside is Blue Lake, with its small, white haricot beans. I grew a few two years ago and the beans were beautifully crisp with not a hint of string.

We also planted some purple climbing beans, Blauhilde. These have gone in as seeds, rather than plants raised in the polytunnel.
Likewise, three types of dwarf beans: Canada Wonder, which can be stringy but should yield a good harvest of kidney beans for drying; Tendergreen; and Helda, which I snapped up ridiculously cheap at the end of last year.

All my beans will grow accompanied by climbing nasturtiums and sweet peas, to make them more attractive both to the human eye and to pollinating insects.

There's also an experiment going on with more exotic beans, nabbed from the kitchen store cupboard. More on this later.

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