A Tale of Broad Beans and Carrots

After two days of rain, the weather finally gave us a break and we ventured up to the allotment on

Leggy broad beans

Oh dear! Broad beans spent too long in pots - will they make it?

Easter Sunday and Monday.  This weekend’s main job was planting the broad beans.   These had been brought-on indoors because last year we lost about 60% growing them outside.  This year, with an almost 100% success rate, the heavy rain and threatened snow meant we couldn’t get them in the ground.  The end result was some very tall, leggy beans, which we’re hoping will recover now they are finally planted.

Last year we grew successive sowings of broad beans, but the early casualties and the last batch being planted too late, meant it wasn’t very successful.  Broad beans freeze perfectly, so this year we’re planting them all in one go.  The freezer will cope with the surplus, and we can give the ground over to peas when the beans are finished.

Carrots – The Good Life way!

Last summer we watched some old re-runs of the classic TV sitcom: The Good Life.  In one episode, Tom and Barbara had germinated carrot seeds on wet tissue and were happily mixing them with wallpaper paste.  The gooey mix was put in a cook’s piping bag and piped into drills in the ground.  The theory being you get a higher germination rate and the paste acts as a carrier, allowing you to sow the seeds thinly.  Fact or fiction?

Carrot seeds

Carrot seeds germinating on damp paper

A bit of research later, we found this was true, but it was important to use fungicide-free wallpaper paste, which isn’t easily come by.  Being a master of improvisation, I was sure there was something else we could use.  We dismissed flour and water paste, thinking it might rot the seedlings, and finally came up with ‘Fybogel’.

If anyone has ever had a digestive problem, they’ll know ‘Fybogel’ is revolting stuff made from Ispaghula Husk.  It’s dissolved with water to make a ‘natural fibre drink’.  Actually, if you don’t drink it in about 5 seconds flat, it sets in the glass and the consistency closely resembles … wallpaper paste!

Now to put it to the test!  We sprinkled some carrot seeds on dampened kitchen paper in a plastic tray, covered it with cling film (to prevent it drying out) and put it in the airing cupboard.  Watch this space for progress reports … we’ll keep you posted.  I’m hoping by next week, they will have germinated and we’ll move on to the next stage.  If you want to try it for yourself, you can buy ‘Fybogel’ over the counter at any chemist.  I believe you can buy fungicide-free wallpaper paste online, if you want the tried and tested option.

Chipping Norton – slug capital of the universe!

Cloches on allotment

Warming the ground for next week's planting

All our ‘seedlets’ in the plastic greenhouses at home are coming on, albeit slowly.  March was very cold and germination has taken time.  Sadly, we found several decapitated seedlings courtesy of slugs.  Our garden is the ‘slug capital’ of Chipping Norton, and each year we battle to keep them in check.  Strangely, slugs and snails have never been a big problem on the allotment.  We think this is because they just pass through there on the way to our back garden!

We’re hoping for some improved weather next weekend so we can finally finish the weeding and get our planting underway.


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2 Responses to “A Tale of Broad Beans and Carrots”

  1. Ali Says:

    Broad beans looking good and it will be interesting to see if your Good Life carrots triumph! Keep me posted. Chipping Norton is NOT the slug capitol of the universe, my plot in Stanley Road allotments is and my greenhouse is obviously their soup kitchen and safe haven!!

  2. Rosalind Adam Says:

    Our broad beans weren’t too good last year either. We’ve had trouble with our onion seedlings this spring. A mouse was nibbling at them and leaving them strewn around the pots but we’re over that now and they’re almost ready for planting out.

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