The in-laws cometh… to save my arse

20110604-090635.jpgFrench beans are go today. About the only thing I’m bang up to date with. Most everything else is behind schedule.

I won’t whinge about the weather again. Ok, I will. It’s been bloody awful. Ants are destroying everything on the plot because the soil’s so dry. God knows if these beans will survive.

On the plus side, my in-laws are coming to stay in a few weeks. I’m looking forward to this. Counter-intuitive, I know, but bear with me: they’re keen vegetable growers. Thus I’ll shortly be benefitting from much-needed help from clued-up gardeners. And I’ll be working them hard for their supper.

*cackles evilly*

Almost as welcome as rain.

Posted on 4th June 2011
Under: Peas and beans | 3 Comments »

Ripped out all the weeds… not

French beansFirst visit to the allotment in 9 days. I’m not proud.

Worked like a demon to pull out about 20% of the weeds (1 hour’s work), plant out the remaining sweetcorn seedlings (30 mins), plant and net the cauliflowers (90 mins) and stick in these beans (20 mins).

So, success. And yet…

The whole place is still swamped in bloody weed. I’m too ashamed to show you the pictures.

Ah, sod it. I’m not really. I have no shame any more. So you can look forward to explicit, unexpurgated and red hot pictures of weedy allotment hell in the next installment.

Don’t say I don’t spoil you.

Posted on 12th June 2010
Under: Peas and beans | 5 Comments »

French bean seeds… for next year’s crop

French beans in pods French beans prepared for storage

Hate shelling beans. After only seconds, your neck starts to ache. Then your fingers get cramp. It’s about as much fun as a wet weekend in Crewe.

But it’s worth it, because this is next year’s French bean crop. Store them in a cool, dry place, in paper envelopes, and all should be well.

If you’ve never saved seed before, beans are a great place to start. It’s almost impossible to cock it up; they pollinate easily, and saving the seed is a simply a question of leaving the pods on the plants until they’re huge… then picking and drying them.

Jeez, even I can do it.

Posted on 4th October 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Seed saving | 7 Comments »

“Unhand me, grey-beard loon!”

dwarf French beans

Some folks at my plot site are eating beans already, but mine went out rather late (May is one HELL of a month for a gardener, isn’t it? I chase my tail 24/7 trying to get everything sown, brought on, repotted, planted out, watered, weeded etc etc etc).

This lot will soon be glutting along with everything else, and relatives will be shrinking from my pleas to take courgettes. In late July I become like the Ancient Mariner; I accost total strangers in the street to recite my allotment travails and beg them to relieve me of a marrow.

PS For anyone interested in the business of journalism – what I do with my professional hat on – you may have something to contribute to the conversation about journalism’s online future I’ve been having with Simon at Freelance Unbound.

When I’m not worrying about my courgettes, this is the Big Topic that troubles/concerns/maddens me. It’s fallen to my generation of editorial folk  to ‘fix’ a system that’s been more or less stable for 500 years – but which is now comprehensively broken. And none of us has much of a clue what to do.

Posted on 5th July 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Summer | 3 Comments »

French beans, variety ‘Soilman’

French beansHere’s the last lot of seedlings to go out on the plot. They’re dwarf French beans that started out as Purple Queen but have been selected by me over two seasons.

I’m expecting this, the third generation, to be ultra-vigorous and productive, because I’ve saved seed beans from the strongest, healthiest plants. I’m trying to do more of this a) to save money, and b) to help diversify our vegetable varieties. Find out more about this from Patrick’s pages about seed saving, and the seed savers network.

But it’s all academic unless I can get them planted out… which isn’t easy in this useless rain. Why useless? Because it pitters and patters in dribs and drabs without actually getting down to the plant roots.

We had a ‘thunderstorm’ this morning that delivered precisely half a centimetre of rain. Half a sodding centimetre. I could piss more than that.

Posted on 7th June 2009
Under: Peas and beans, Rants | 10 Comments »

French beans, desperate for planting out

Young French bean seedlingEverything’s bursting at the seams, desperate to get out on the plot. I’ve got sweetcorn, French beans, courgettes, squashes, pumpkins and gherkins all jostling for space in my crappy mini-greenhouse.

But I daren’t put any of them out. Too dangerous; we often have late frosts in the second half of May. Last year a -3C frost blasted everyone’s early potatoes on May 21st.

So I’m stuck with everything until June 1st. I have pots in every nook and cranny of the house and garden, and am considering which body orifices could be pressed into service to provide more space…

Posted on 10th May 2009
Under: Peas and beans | 6 Comments »

Freezer bound

Mixed vegGreat to get a decent harvest. When we came back from a few days off, this was waiting.

No hope of eating it all fresh. Most will have to go into the freezer.

Not that I’m too bothered. One of the wonderful things about growing your own veg is eating it out of season as well as during the summer months.

I feel positively Scrooge-ish about my thrifty ways.

Posted on 3rd August 2008
Under: Brassicas, Peas and beans, Roots | 2 Comments »