Saturday, 10 June 2017

The Bean Forest

Monday 29th May
With a bout of summery weather on the cards, main job for the day was to get all the beans and peas planted outside. I rear most of them in modules to protect them from the attentions of slugs and voles. They quickly fill the little pockets of soil with roots and are soon ready to go out. I sink branches into the ground to grow them up. These branches come from winter's tree pruning and are helpfully and enthusiastically debarked by the Shetland sheep.
The young bean plants still need protection from slugs, so each gets its own cut down milk bottle or lemonade bottle as a mini cloche. This helps shelter them from the wind too and helps to harden them off.
This year I am growing Gigantes beans along with Runner Beans (I forget the variety), Borlottis and Pea Beans. All of these I use for drying. Then there are Cobra beans, my favourite for French green beans.
I do like the bean and pea patch. It adds height and interest to the garden.
In the gaps I grow sweetcorn, courgettes and dwarf beans.
Tuesday 30th May
The sheep have been crossing the electric fence with impunity, even the two little brown lambs. I began to suspect that it wasn't working properly, so today I dug out the voltage tester only to discover that there was actually no electricity running through half of the fence!

And so began the long process of tracking down the problem. First job is to walk the fence and check for any obvious breaks. With this eliminated, it gets trickier. The voltage can drop if there is too much connection with long, wet vegetation, so that by the end of the line the fence is very weak. So I walked the line, clearing vegetation and moving the fence clear. This increased the voltage slightly, but clearly wasn't the main problem.

I eventually worked out where the problem lay - in the sections of tape which link one side of the paddock to the other. What followed was several attempts to get the connection working properly. Each check necessitated a long walk back to turn the fence off at source. Thank goodness Sue was there to help.
Eventually I managed to get a current flowing all the way around the paddock where the sheep are feeding. Doubtless the lambs will charge through it a couple more times until they actually get a shock. After that they will be a bit more wary.

Wednesday 31st May
Look what started today. More in future posts.

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