8th August – Broad Beans Galore!

WORD-right's Broad Beans

WORD-right's Broad Beans

Saturday morning dawned bright and clear – ideal conditions for working on our allotment (William Fowler Allotment Trust, Chipping Norton).  We didn’t rush, it was a Saturday after all, and we finally arrived up at the plot about 9.30.  Much to our surprise, there were only two other people on our section … we had expected it to be ‘rush hour’! 

At last the weeds seem to be slowing down, even the rampant bindweed which seems intent on taking over the entire plot.  I work on the assumption that every time I yank some out … I’m winning the war!  But considering it hadn’t been weeded in a fortnight, it was remarkably under control. 

Ripened onion strings

Ripened onion strings

Saturday’s mission was to strim the paths and edges (David’s department!), while I dug up the remainder of the onions.  Last year, onions had been stolen from some allotments when they’d been left to ripen on the ground.   We decided not to take any chances, and so we take our onions home, where they cure nicely in the plant house. 

Most of Saturday’s efforts focussed on harvesting.  Always a very satisfying job!   We’ve been gradually taking some of our 2nd sowing of broad beans – Bunyard Exhibition – for a few weeks now.  But the remainder were just about all ripe for the picking.  With nearly 5kg in weight, there was a lot of podding and blanching to be done when we got home!  The freezer will soon be groaning under the weight of all our home grown veggies. 

As ever, the perpetual spinach was ready for its weekly ‘haircut’.  We’re picking around 1kg a week at the moment.  As it keeps well and is quite delicious, we don’t mind the glut, which is just as well as we’ve already had more than 6kg since the middle of June! 

Our Cosse Violette, a climbing French bean, is starting to produce a reasonable crop.  The deep purple beans turn green when cooked, which is a great shame – they are the most stunning colour when raw! 

Saturday was a red-letter day as we picked the very first of our runner beans.  We were late planting them and the weather hasn’t been kind, so these are probably a month behind last year’s crop.  Having grown Enorma last year, we opted for a different variety this year and went for Red Flame.  We were disappointed with the Enorma, although the growing conditions were far from ideal in 2008, which might account for it!  It’s early days, but the Red Flame plants are covered in flower and the first beans look beautiful.  We’re trying to work out the yield (and quality) we get from different varieties, and hope this will help us in future seasons. 

Although not on the allotment, time had to be allocated at home to planting.  This seems to be like a full-time occupation!  Because we want to make full use of the allotment, our goal is to grow a continuous supply of fresh vegetables.  This weekend’s planting consisted of spring greens, Durham Early cabbage and some Winter Density lettuce, which should all be ready in March or April.  We planted them in module trays and will transfer them up onto the allotment when they’re large enough to handle … and we can find some space! 

For the first time, we’re also having a go at growing some winter salad leaves: Winter Purslane, Lambs Lettuce, American Land Cress and Endive … to name but a few.  If anyone has any experience of these, I’d be delighted to have a few tips!

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