Planning a Broad Bean Bonanza

In the past I haven’t grown enough broad beans, so this year I’m planning a bit of  successional sowing.  I’m already a bit behind on the game – because of the hard landscaping work I couldn’t do an autumn sowing – but starting next week I will sow some in the ground as well as some in pots as insurance against mice predations. I’ve gone for three different varieties – Thompson & Morgan’s ‘Express’ which has an AGM and is apparently the fastest to crop, then ‘Stereo’ from Sarah Raven which produces small tender pods that you can eat in their entirety, and finally ‘Greeny’ from Mr. Fothergill’s which is a late cropping variety that can sown up to May. Bring on the beans!broad bean packets

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Felco Secateurs

Felco Secateurs

– Newly Serviced and Looking Splendid

Burton McCall have worked their usual magic on my secateurs and they are back with me looking as good as new and fabulously sharp.  Pruning has become such a pleasure that I’m outside whenever the weather permits to get on with the job.  It’s not until you have a properly sharp pair of secateurs that you realise just how blunt a neglected pair can be –  and how much  harder that makes the task.felco

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My Hugelkultur Experiment

Hugelkultur raised bedHugelkultur is a permaculture technique that is usually used to create a raised bed on a flat piece of land by covering the area with logs, topping them with branches and then adding progressively finer materials before topping the whole thing off with about 25cm of good quality soil and compost. It creates a mound that gradually subsides as the lower layers decompose, releasing nutrients and creating a rich organic soil that is moisture retentive and packed with beneficial microorganisms. Find out more about the technique at www.permaculture.org.uk.

One of the results of the hard landscaping to create my new vegetable garden with its deep terraced beds, is that more soil was needed to bring them up to the right level. Instead of importing loads of topsoil, I have employed a sort of reverse hugelkultur technique. With each bed, we dug down about a meter deep on one half, piling the soil on the other half – and then started building our layers, firstly the logs, then twigs and then a thick layer of mixed shreddings, before covering it with the returned soil – and then we repeated the process with the other half of the bed.logs in troughlogs and sticks

HugelkulturThe result was satisfactorily filled beds. Finally, we added a layer of sieved compost to create a rather wonderful seedbed (as well as introducing lots of microorganisms to the disturbed soil) and then tucked it all up with a layer of fleece.soil on top

sheet to cover soil
What a great start to the gardening year.

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