Posts Tagged ‘Bunyard Exhibition Broad Beans’

This is what it’s all about …

July 12, 2011

We were allotmenteers on a mission on Saturday.  The broad beans were ready to harvest and as for the peas …

Bunyards Exhibition Broad Bean

The broad bean harvest

With dark skies overhead and dodging the odd shower, most of our allotment visit was spent a-picking and a-harvesting.  During a lull, I did do something I’ve been intending to do for a while now.  I made a video!  So if you fancy a walk round our Chipping Norton allotment, you can see the results on YouTube here.  This is my first attempt, so apologies for my lack of camera skills and the blowing a gale sound effects!

First up were the broad beans.  David set to work with a bucket or two which were quickly filled up.  The plants are still in the ground and there’s a small picking left.  We planted the broad beans in waves in 2009, but didn’t gain from it.  Because they freeze so beautifully, we now plant them all as early as possible and harvest them in one go.  That way, we can free up the bed and get a late crop of something else.  This year, flushed with success, it will be more peas.

Broccoli head

Broccoli triumph

Picking was essential on Saturday as we had a day trip to Portsmouth planned for Sunday.  Needless to say the family expect us to arrive accompanied by a week’s supply of fresh vegetables!

Our little granddaughter is veggie mad, which is a great attribute for a 2 years and 3 month old tot.  They have a small amount of veg in their garden and she is very excited about growing her own.  Much to her delight, their courgette plants produced two courgettes ready to pick … secretly grown here and transported to Portsmouth, and laid on the ground when her attention was diverted!  We are looking forward to their visit next month when she can dig up the potatoes she helped plant in February.  But I digress.

Onward peas

Just a few peas

The biggest mission was of course … the peas.  I know I keep on about them, but we have never had peas like it before.  We always pick the peas last and prepare them as soon as we get home, either cooking them to reheat later or blanching them for the freezer.  After an hour or so, peas start to turn their sugar into starch, so they are best within a short time of picking.  This was a bit optimistic … it took us more than half an hour (and two aching backs) just to pick them all!

Both the French and runner beans are in flower, the courgettes are getting going, and the Greyhound cabbage are fantastic.  We’ve had no more critter attacks on the broccoli and I’m delighted to say, we have given up buying veg now for the duration.

Harvest from allotment

Most of Saturday's harvest!

We won’t mention the two hours of podding and blanching on Saturday, but all in all, it was very satisfying allotment day.  And that’s what it is all about!


Mr Neat & Mr Tidy’s Allotment

June 28, 2011

With hot weather forecast, we were up at our Chipping Norton allotment at 8am on Saturday.  Our uncertain weather conditions meant we were hoping the fog and drizzle would pass, and it certainly did.  By 10am it was sweltering!

David was on strimming duty this week.  The edges of the plot were in dire need of a hair cut.  My mission, as usual for this time of the year, involved the ongoing battle of the weeds.  By the time we went home, our allotment was pristine and did indeed look like an example from a Mr Men storybook.

mange tout

First mange tout of the season

I love this time of year on the allotment.  On the other hand, I don’t enjoy this time of year in the kitchen.  When we’re almost ready to start reaping the benefits, I begrudge having to buy vegetables.  However, soon we will soon be in full production, and this week saw the first of the mange tout arrive on the table.

We are more measured with mange tout sowings than we were before.  Having discovered they are pretty horrible frozen and getting heartily sick of them for breakfast, dinner and tea, we now have successive sowings throughout the season.  Reuzensuiker mange tout are prolific croppers!

Young calabrese

Baby calabrese

Our biggest highlight this weekend was the discovery of baby calabrese heads.  We are not good at calabrese!  They generally get to the size of ping-pong balls and start to go to seed.  Of course we’ve experienced this excitement before (several times), but never fail to be filled with optimism at this time of year.  If you are a calabrese guru, please leave a comment if you have any idea what we might be doing wrong!

The first Bunyard Exhibition broad beans and Onward peas are expected to deliver next weekend, and our Greyhound cabbage are forming hearts.  The perpetual spinach is growing like mad, and we have more lettuce than two people and dog can manage.  And of course, the dog of course isn’t big on salad anyway!  So in a couple of weeks I’m expecting to be allotment and kitchen happy.

Don’t forget the calabrese advice – we badly need it.

Of planting, peas, and pests

April 19, 2011

This weekend’s weather meant an enjoyable few hours up on our allotment here in Chipping Norton.  It’s hard to reconcile this summer-like weather with daffodils and blossom on the hedgerows.  The balmy days have made me feel we are very behind, yet in fact we are probably ahead of the game.

Savaged peas

Spot the savaged pea - near centre at bottom

A couple of weeks ago we planted peas. Previously we’ve grown them at home in half pop bottles, which works, but is more labour-intensive.  To save time this year, we decided to tempt fate and our little rodent friends, and put them straight in the ground.  We think we have mice on our plot –  and we know we have bank voles.

In our first season back in 2007, we heeded my daughter’s advice and soaked the peas in paraffin.  I’m not sure if it did any good … it cost a few quid in paraffin (having had to buy lots) and ruined my gardening gloves in the process!  So in 2011, peas ‘au nature’ it was.  Some 10 days later, we had ‘pea-lets’.  But 14 days later – disaster!

Young broad beans

Baby broad beans

While it seems unjust to blame everything on pigeons, they do have previous for devouring our young peas.  We arrived on Saturday morning to find quite a few tender young pea shoots on the ground – very dead.  Was it pigeons or was it mice? Just another allotment dilemma, I’m afraid.  We decided the pigeons must the culprits … they are such useful scapegoats!  So now our pea bed resembles Fort Knox, and is completely impenetrable by anything of the feathered variety.  Of course if it was the mice …

I won’t bore you with tales of our carrots, having decided I will not obsess and stress about them this year. But suffice to say … this is their last chance! On that note, our c-things are planted, as are the parsnips, swede, the first beetroot and perpetual spinach.

The onion experiment (having taken over from last year’s carrot one) continues.  Half of the little onion plants are in the ground, while the other 50% are growing on here in the plant house.  The sets are going great guns … but perhaps they realise they have competition from the seed grown onions.  All I can say is they are all being treated equally and being fed and well watered.  We don’t discriminate on Plot 66A.

The broad beans, still grown in pots back here at Allotment Central, are in the ground and all in all … it’s looking good.

All we need is some rain.  The ground is dry and watering, watering, watering … is the order of the day.

Broad Beans and Hose Pipes

July 8, 2010

The drought in Chipping Norton continues with yet another week of hot dry weather.  While it’s enjoyable for the people population, the plants are not so enthusiastic.  Finally the decision was made … to throw caution to the wind, go out an invest in a 50m hosepipe, and fill up our tank from the allotment water tap.

Bunyard Exhibition Broad Beans

Oh what a lot we got!

But first on the agenda was the broad bean harvest!  We had decided to grow as many broad beans as possible, get them out early and refill the beds with some late peas, to make the most of the space.  After a spot of maintenance, we were ready to begin.

250 plants later, we had filled 5 buckets with beans and the compost bin was brimming.  Having tried 3 different varieties of broad beans last year, we came down in favour of Bunyard Exhibition. The final yield was 16.75kg, from 1½ packets of seeds (compared to 14kg last year from 3 packs!).  This of course, meant a major podding and blanching exercise back at the ranch.

Broad beans aside, our next mission was a shopping trip to invest in the new hosepipe.  Even that wasn’t straight forward!  This involved a 30 mile round trip to Banbury, as only shorter hoses were available locally.

The best laid plans however … armed with our new  hose, our existing 50m one and a handful of connectors, we headed to the allotments that evening.  The plan was to run hose 1 from the tap and connect it to our neighbour’s hose.  Our 2nd hose would then cover the distance from the neighbour’s plot to our water tank.  Wrong!  The distance to the tap to the neighbours hose (firmly clipped to the fencing) was more than 50m and it was a different gauge!

Another kindly allotment keeper, who was the only other person onsite at the time, lent us his and we did manage to replenish the tank somewhat.  But as fast as the water was going in the top, we were emptying it from the bottom to give the plants a good watering.  After about 90 minutes, we had to abandon the refilling project as dusk was falling – the result?  Only about 75ltrs left in the tank … oh … and a rather nasty mosquito bite!

If you’re wondering why we didn’t simply water the plants with the hose, I’m afraid that is a hanging offence on our allotments.  Hoses may only be used to fill up tanks and anyone breaching the agreement could be reported to the powers that be!  So being good, decent and honourable allotmenteers, we carried bravely on with the watering cans.

So as I write this, I’m awaiting the delivery of yet another hose, bought online this time.  The cost of carriage is considerably less than the time and petrol involved in another trip to the DIY sheds.  Tonight, we’ll be back up to the plot to refill the tank, assuming of course there isn’t a queue for the one and only water pipe on our section of the plots.  Note to self … don’t forget the insect repellent!

Don’t put off until tomorrow what you should have done weeks ago!

May 24, 2010

What a glorious weekend to be out on the allotment!  Sunshine and high temperatures meant we couldn’t wait to get up to the plot and get to work.

With a car full of plants, plenty of cold drinks and the sun lotion, we got on our way.  My mission was to plant out the courgettes and the remainder of the brassica plants.  David was in charge of the runner beans, which were more than ready to go in the ground.


Why did I leave it so long?

The ‘first’ bed in our allotment has always been troublesome.  It was the first we prepared before we mastered the technique, and if left, quickly becomes a tangle of weeds.  Instead of dealing with it and planting it a couple of weeks ago, I put it off.  Big mistake!  The couch grass had gone mad and instead of a 5 minute job, it was again a major exercise.  The lack of rain meant the ground was too hard to tackle with a trowel, and the fork had to be employed.  As this bed is destined for brassicas, I didn’t want to dig it over, but this was the only solution.  Note to self: don’t put it off next time!

Bean Canes

Upside down bean frames

While I was a-weeding and a-planting, David was hard at work on the runner bean canes. Our bean canes get a few strange looks, but the ‘upsidedown’ design means they are considerably easier to pick.  Alongside and keeping them company will be the Cosse Violette – climbing French beans which are truly wonderful.  I only wish they kept their deep purple colour after cooking, instead of reverting to plain old green.

The lack of rain is starting to be a worry.  Our 1000ltr tank is now only 1/3 full.  That’s the lowest it’s been in 3 years and if it doesn’t rain soon, we’ll have a problem.  Because our allotment is a very long way from the tap, we’ll have to beg or borrow 4, if not 5 hoses to reach the tank.  And that would depend on enough allotment neighbours all being onsite at the same time.   All in all, that’s as unpredictable as the vagaries of the British weather!

Another cause for concern is our swede seedlings.  There are a lot of gaps in the rows and those plant which have germinated or survived, appear to have been nibbled by a critter or critters unknown.  Although it’s a bit late, we’ll have to try another planting to see if we can bridge the gaps to provide us with a decent crop.

Bunyard Exhibition Broad Beans

Broad Beans Galore!

On the plus side, our broad beans are doing wonderfully well!  Even the sickly ones, which had been left too long, have recovered and rewarded us with an abundance of flowers.  I am somewhat alarmed at the quantity and think perhaps next year, we must remember we don’t really need 250 broad bean plants!

Finally … what I’m sure you’ve all been waiting for … an update on the Good Life carrots.  Nothing!  6 rows of carrots, 4 Good Life style and 2 conventionally planted have yielded not a single sign of life.  Am I despondent?  Well yes … quite gutted actually!

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