Archive for vegetable beds

Starting the runner beans off indoors

Although we have a big garden we do not yet have a greenhouse or a polytunnel, they are on my wish list!! So when I  sow my runner beans I always have to do it indoors.  I save up all the cardboard inners from toilet and kitchen rolls, cut the kitchen roll inners into two to make the right size and fill them with grow bag compost.  I place two runner bean seeds into each tube, add a little more compost and water.  I then placed the tubes on our new kitchen window sills which place West so catch the afternoon/evening sun.DSC00159

This is what they look like after 11 days growing on the window sills.

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When the plants are about a foot tall I will put them outside into the ground.  I plant the whole tube by each bean pole thus not disturbing the roots and giving the plants a fighting chance against the slugs that would have the growing tips off in an instant.

We have found this method to be very successful over the past few years, hence repeating it this year.

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A great haul of parsnips!

We have been digging over the vegetable beds, weeding them and preparing them for Spring sowings.  Yesterday Neil tackled what he thought was some weeds and lo and behold he dug up a marvellous haul of parsnips.

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It was quite a surprise as I had already dug up some parsnips a month or so earlier and thought that was all there was.  I had grown these from seed but obviously not marked the place very well, so we had not realised there were more.  We shall be eating parsnips with everything over the next few weeks.  I do love roast parsnips, especially with a little cumin sprinkled over the top!!

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I’m looking forward to peeling that large one on the top!!

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French beans outwit the deer

This year, as well as runner bean I planted a dedicated line of climbing French beans alongside bean poles.   Unfortunately some deer got in and munched all the emerging shoots of the beans and stopped them from climbing up the bean poles.  But Mother Nature is so clever!  What did the French beans do?  They produced all their beans really low down on the bit of plant that was still alive.

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And some of the beans are really long, about 7 or 8 inches, much longer than you see in the supermarkets.

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I think its pretty clever that all the bean pods have grown at the bottom!  I thought our crop had been ruined, but not so!!

Also today I picked the first of our runner beans.  They were similarly munched by the deer but managed to put out other shoots and still climb up the bean poles.

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Our sweetcorn are coming on nicely too.  I think it is all the lovely sunshine we have been having lately

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I have also been picking the courgettes (zucchini) and let one or two of them grow really large into marrows to cut up for the chickens.  It’s going to be a bumper year for all our crops this year.

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Growing our runner beans and an update on the veggie garden

We don’t have a greenhouse yet and we do suffer from slugs and snails here as we have had such a wet Winter, so I start off our runner beans indoors in the inside of loo roll tubes.

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We end up with seeds growing on all the window ledges in the house.

After a couple of weeks they have started to sprout.

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And when they are 8 to 12 inches tall I put them outside.  By putting the whole tube into the ground it gives the beans  some protection against the slugs and snails, and gives them a fighting chance.

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I tie each little bean plant up to its bean cane so it doesn’t get blown around in the wind.  This year as part of our “no dig” experiment we have laid newspapers down around the bean poles to deter the weeds.

After 10 days or so they are already climbing the bean poles, so a success.  Just need to wait another month now before they produce some lovely beans for us.

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Our other veggies are growing well too.  Here are our peas climbing up their pea sticks.

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And our cabbages growing in their shrouds to protect them from pigeons and cabbage white butterflies.

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This year we spread grass clippings around the potatoes and onions as mulch and again to deter the weeds.

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The sweet corn are still small, they need some more sunshine to boost their growth.

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We shall have a bumper crop of strawberries this year

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And the gooseberries are already forming on the bushes

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We are also growing lettuce, tomatoes, courgettes, radish, chard, parsnips, carrots, turnips and purple sprouting broccoli so we should have lots of lovely veggies if everything grows OK.

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Making new paths

On Friday we had 10 tons of 40 mm scalpings delivered.  This is what a 10 ton pile looks like.

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When we first put down our raised vegetable beds, we laid the paths in between with black weed suppressant sheet and covered them with bark chippings.  These paths looked lovely at first, but after 3 years the bark has decomposed and the weeds have grown in the bark and just taken over.

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So Neil has been digging out the weeds and pulling back the bark to get back to the black weed suppressant sheet.  The bark chippings we have been depositing on the hen run and the hens love it to scratch around in.

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He is then filling the paths with scaplings (stones) to make new paths, which hopefully the weeds cannot grow in.

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This is very physically demanding work and will take quite a long time to do. He is out there again this afternoon, so my job is to prepare regular cups of tea and get on with the roast dinner for tonight.  Also I have to go and iron the bed linen from yesterday’s B&B guests, so I’m not twiddling my fingers even though I’m not helping with the scalpings.

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Digging up the first potatoes

Earlier in my blog I explained how we were trying the “no dig” approach to vegetable growing this year, growing through cardboard.  One of the first things we planted this way was our potatoes and this week we started to dig them up.

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The cardboard certainly stopped the weeds coming up, and meant that we hadn’t had to earth them up.  So we lifted the cardboard and this is what we saw.

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Beautiful potatoes lying in the ground.

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They came away quite clean and blemish free and we got all this lot just from one row.

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Last night I cooked some up with a little mint from the garden, delicious.  Its amazing how something as simple as a spud can taste so much better when home grown.

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Growing our runner beans

We always start our runner beans off in the cardboard tubes that are the inside of a toilet roll or kitchen roll.  This means you don’t have to disturb the roots when planting out.  Not having a greenhouse yet I started mine off on the windowsill of the lounge, where they got the afternoon sunshine. This is what they looked like 2 weeks ago when the first beans started sprouting.

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It wasn’t long before we saw more growth:-

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By the time a week had passed they were all growing strongly:-

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It’s been gloriously sunny all week here, so I’ve not wanted to plant them out in the heat of the day.  We waited until Thursday evening when the sun had gone down and planted into the beds.  This year we are trying the “no dig” approach, so the ground is covered with cardboard to stop the weeds growing through, and we just made a hole big enough for each tube by each cane.

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Now we have to wait for them to climb the poles and to produce some beans.  We always do well with beans, they are easy to grow and pretty fast too, so with the warm weather we have been having we should see some results before too long.  Let’s hope the cardboard does the trick with the weeds.  It will eventually break down, but should last the season.

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