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Blog posts tagged with 'beans'

So much to do in July!

Now I have been so busy with work over the past few weeks that I have slightly neglected the garden - thankfully we now have some rain in East Anglia so all my veggies have been growing away happily on their own! I have remembered to water the tomatoes and cucumbers in the greenhouse though and am now being rewarded with lots of flowers and the beginnings of fruit.

The Tenderstem Broccoli is also coming along well, although I have had to cover it with mesh netting to stop the slugs and cabbage butterflies and I have already started to harvest small carrots and my fabulous new potatoes, grown in bags this year. One of the reasons for “growing you own” is because the vegetables taste so much better and this is particularly true of these two crops - there is nothing better than digging up your spuds, cooking them straight away and then covering them in butter and a spring of mint before serving! The carrots are so tasty they don’t even make it as far as the pot.

Salads are also a great idea at this time of year and if you choose the cut and come again varieties you can have salad leaves on tap whenever you require them. Once other crops have been harvested, salads can easily be sown in the space as they germinate quickly in these sunny/showery conditions and grow quickly - some take as little as three weeks before you can start to eat them.

I always grow sweetcorn - again because it is far superior to that which you can buy in the supermarket and this year is no exception -my plants are coming along and will hopefully be ready next month. The same goes for my runner beans - a ‘dead cert’ with my two boys who will eat their own body weight in beans! Have to wait for next month before harvesting though, but it’s nice to know that things are growing and nearly ready to eat.


Now is a great time to enjoy the garden as well as work in it, so make sure that you put down your hoe and take some time to relax and enjoy all the hard work you put in months ago by sitting out (when the sunshine prevails) with a cuppa or glass of wine!

-- Jane Dubinski

Full Steam Ahead Planting out the Veggie Plot!

I know that in parts of the country there has been quite a bit of rain but here in East Anglia it has been very dry - in fact according to a recent item I read on the BBC website, only 28mm of rain has fallen in this part of the world for the whole of March, April and May, making it one of the driest Springs for over 100 years! Thankfully my water butts are full from the winter rains so I will be using these to water the veg as much as possible in the coming weeks and if I have to use the hose I will do so sparingly, aiming it at the roots of each plant, rather than over the whole of the beds.
Most of my vegetable plants had been growing on in the greenhouse but now that the soil has warmed up I have planted them out into the vegetable beds so they can really get established. First up was my sweetcorn, which needs to be planted in blocks rather than rows to aid pollination, so I have put this in a bed on its own.

My beans and courgettes have also been planted out and, to help establish these water hungry plants, I dug a trench and put newspaper soaked in water in the bottom before planting as this will encourage the roots to go deeper and provide a good start for the plants.

It’s not too late to plant out beans if you haven’t been able to start them in the greenhouse, as these can go straight into the soil at this time of year, so I have also put a bean seed in the ground next to each plant to ensure a bumper crop of runners and french beans - these are favourites in our house and you can’t beat home grown.

Of course planting all of these juicy young vegetable plants means that the juicy fat slugs will think dinner has certainly arrived and they can be very difficult to control, particularly at this time of year. There are different ways to deal with these revolting creatures including beer traps, copper tape and eggshells but I have to confess that I use slug pellets (the only non-organic bit of my gardening ethos) as I find these to be the most effective - there is nothing worse that taking all the trouble to grow tender young plants only to find them eaten overnight so I don’t take the chance!
Other crops need to be covered, particularly any members of the brassica family, so my Tenderstem broccoli now has a fine mesh net over it to stop cabbage white butterflies laying their eggs and hundreds of caterpillars eating my plants before my very eyes - let’s hope that’s not the case this year!

It’s full steam ahead in the greenhouse as well, with tomatoes and cucumbers planted into grow bags and canes put in to train them up when they really start to grow. I love this time of the year as it feels like the calm before the storm - everything is starting to get established and there will be lots of lovely veg to look forward to in the coming months - that is assuming that there is enough water to go round but clever use of water butts, washing up water and even bath water should be enough to ensure the veggies flourish!

-- Jane Dubinski

French Beans

I have been growing dwarf- or French- beans for 2 to 3 years now and can honestly say they are probably the easiest vegetable plant I have ever grown. They are such a versatile plant that can be grown in many situations and are also a great smaller alternative to the old favourite, runner beans, if you have limited space.

This year I am starting my beans off in seed trays. I did try planting my beans in cardboard toilet rolls last year but must admit that I did not honestly see any massive improvements in growth or crop compared to those planted in normal pots or trays. I planted my dwarf beans in the second week of May, but you can plant them as early as March if they are kept indoors away from frosts to germinate. When planting beans as seeds, make sure you use a good compost and only plant the seed just below the surface of the soil. Keep them somewhere warm and light and give them a good spray with a mister so as not to disturb the soil or seeds. They will start to germinate after a week or so.

I always let my dwarf beans get to a good 2-3 cm high before considering planting them out. This gives them a good head start against slugs and other pests. Last year I planted my beans in the ground and planted a few in large pots. The beans that I planted in pots last year definitely needed more care and attention. They dried out a lot quicker and required a lot more watering. This year I am going to give the pots a second chance but also incorporate some beans into my flower garden too. Most bean varieties will need some support to grow up. This can be provided by a few garden canes or a wicker wigwam. One bit of advice I would give is to always make your climbing structure larger than the size says on the seed packet. I always find that mine go a little further!

Beans should be ready to harvest from late June right through to late September. Don’t be afraid to pinch the small pods as they come, they’re delicious just boiled until tender but not soggy!

You don’t need a dedicated vegetable patch or allotment to grow a lot of the foods we would normally buy from the supermarket. Two or three wigwams of beans planted within your bedding plants or shrubbery will fair just as well as those planted in a vegetable patch. And picking the right companion plants such as Tagetes and Marigolds can also deter pests improving your crop. Planting a few beans for yourself is also a great way to help reduce your carbon footprint. Most of the beans bought in supermarkets have flown from places as far away as Africa!

-- Tom Williams

Easy Peasy First Vegetable Growing

When it comes to growing vegetables, I am sometimes way ahead of the game but more often than not a little behind with my plans when the season starts.

We built raised beds last year. So keen was I to get filling those lovely beds that I drew out my planting design in Photoshop and set seeds everywhere. We had chard germinating in the workshop window, cucumbers growing in old profiterole containers and beans growing in toilet roll tubes all over the house. I ended up with too many of some things, which I ended up giving away, plus I had lots of seedlings ready to plant out before the conditions were right.

This year I have taken a more leisurely approach, so we still have empty vegetable beds waiting to be filled. Salad leaves and beetroot are already happily sprouting and the courgettes and french beans that Mr Mouse hasn’t snacked on are growing well too. At this time of year it can be difficult to know where best to aim your efforts to ensure that you get a good return throughout the season. If you are new to ‘growing your own’ here are some favourites that anyone can get planting.

Kale is such an easy plant to grow. It is happy with most soils and doesn’t get too bothered by pests. The only thing they are not keen on is warm weather as it tends to send them to seed too soon. Cut out the central stalk and use the leaves like cabbage, in pasta dishes or turn them into kale crisps. Cavalo Nero is a variety that looks as good as it tastes and survives right into the winter. Plant them in a seed tray then prick them out when they are a couple of inches tall. Don’t grow too many at a time or they will fill your borders.

Lettuce is a great money saving crop as bags of leaves from the supermarket are costly and they only last days. It’s worth sowing a few seeds every few weeks so that you have a constant supply of baby leaves. I tend to prefer the cut-and-come-again style as they are less likely to run to seed and you don’t have to wait for them to get very big before you can start enjoying them. Salad leaves are great for sowing in pots as then you can keep them right outside your door.

Peas are an essential crop for us. There is nothing to beat the taste of fresh peas straight from the pod as you walk around the garden on a Summer’s evening. If you aren’t able to tend your garden as much as you’d like, a good option might be mangetout. As you don’t need to leave them to fatten up; you can pick a few as and when you need them. They are at their best when young and very tender.

Beans are my absolute favourite thing to grow, especially broad beans which are so tasty. To plant just drop a bean into a toilet roll tube filled with compost. They are ready to plant out when they reach about 10cm and then you will just need a few canes to support them. They are good for the soil as they take nitrogen from the air and plough it back into the soil through their roots. The borlotti beans above are worth growing just for their beautiful flowers and mottled pods.

--Claire Sutton