Posts Tagged ‘Red Flame Runner Beans’

2010 – not the best year!

August 10, 2010

Last week my daughter and followers arrived here in Chipping Norton en route to their annual pilgrimage to the Big Chill music festival.  As ever, their visit included a trip to the allotment to harvest some veggies for dinner.  Her comment … “I’ve never seen it look so bare at this time of year.”

Red Flame runner beans

Beans hanging from upside down bean frames

Plot 66a on the William Fowler allotments is indeed a sad and sorry sight!  Instead of it bursting with life and goodness, we have empty beds and open spaces.  It’s not all doom and gloom of course!   The ‘Red Flame’ runner beans are prolific and we’re swamping the neighbourhood with their harvest.  The upside down pole construction makes them so much easier to pick.  Rather than having to conduct a bean body search through a tangle at the top of the frame, the beans hang down and present themselves beautifully!

Cosse Violette French Beans

The first purple French beans

The mange tout are plentiful and going from strength to strength … the courgettes (although not as bountiful as previous years) are doing quite well … and the French beans are almost into top gear.  After a very slow start, the perpetual spinach is finally starting to crop and the sweetcorn looks promising.

But the bad news …

  • 7 carrots from 3 packets of seeds
  • The parsnips have fared a little better with a yield of at least 10!
  • The beetroot are producing foliage, but little underneath
  • Onions?  Least said about them the better!
  • The brassicas are struggling for survival as we battle with a whitefly infestation
  • The peas are a non-event (Sunday’s harvest yielded 7 pods only)
  • The swede are a fraction of their normal size
  • And back at allotment central, the tomatoes are showing little promise
Sweetcorn plants

Sweetcorn looking promising

I’m not informed enough to know how much of this year’s failures are down to UIE (user intervention error … i.e. we got it wrong) or if it has simply been a bad season.  We are hearing reports from people far and wide who have suffered major carrot failure, but not the consistently poor performance we’ve experienced this year.

I can only stress once more how glad I am that we don’t have to earn our living from the land and my thoughts are with everyone that does.


8th August – Broad Beans Galore!

August 9, 2009
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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