No, not some deeply felt emotional plea for understanding, just yet more allotment lessons.

I had a plan, you see. It was a nice plan. Take my camera and my trusty purple basket up to the allotment, drop the latter off at the plot for some picking later, and take the former round the community orchard to see how things have moved on. When I reached the allotments, this is the sight that greeted me:

Fallen Sweet Peas

My first thought was “I guess the sweet peas are over then” – and the pun was sadly unintentional. My next thought was that the walk around the orchard was going to have to wait. With my sweet peas spilling into the central track down the allotment site, I needed to get it cleared up.

Sweet Pea Debris

Then I took more of a look around.

Insufficient Support

My teepee of purple beans was clearly not strong enough to withstand the strong winds we’ve been having – and this was before the tail end of the hurricane hit. I’d not tied the canes together strongly enough, and that, combined with the weight of the crop, proved too much. Ah well, I picked nearly 2kg of beans before putting Humpty together again – this time with cable ties. Cosse Violette is a prodigious cropper, I have already blanched 1.5kg, and we have been eating them regularly since late June.

Purple Bean Crop

I’d had to leave it almost a week since last picking beans, and lots of these are too big to be tasty just gently steamed. So, I am in the market for good bean chutney recipes!

At least I wasn’t alone. The Leaning Legume phenomenon was in evidence all over the site.

Other Leaning Legumes

I was a bit more upset to see my canting corn – I really should have earthed it up, but it just slipped my mind. I really need to remember how exposed the site is.

Canting Corn

Guess the prevailing wind direction!

Leaning Jerusalem Artichokes

At least the Jerusalem Artichokes can fend for themselves.

It’s not just the tall beans and sweetcorn that I need to be more supportive of. I have been growing dwarf runner beans. They are phenomenally productive – not to mention pretty – but for all that the packet claims they don’t need support, left to themselves they tend to lean over under the weight of the beans, which then drag on the ground, a tempting slug snack. I had put some twiggy sticks in to support them, but clearly not enough.

Dwarf Runners

Leaning aside, the legume family has been good to me this year. The broad beans, peas, mange tout, runners and French beans have all been very successful. I’ve followed the early crops in the main bedwith a green manure in the same family, Red Clover.

Green Manure Red Clover

It’s just starting to show through, and should help suppress all but the perennial weeds and fix extra nitrogen in the soil, ready for planting brassicas in the bed next year. Elsewhere I took a chance and sowed some late dwarf French beans, more mange tout, and Cherokee Trail of Tears. The mange tout looks healthy and is smothered in flowers, but I don’t know if I will get a crop before the weather turns.

Happy Mange Tout
Late Mangetout

Cherokee Trail of Tears has beautiful soft pink flowers, and is already showing some beans, so I will cross my fingers. I should at least get enough of a crop to decide whether or not I want to grow it again, taste wise. And its support isn’t leaning at all, so it scores points there!

Trail Of Tears Flowers
Trail Of Tears Beans

I learnt two more things this trip. Firstly, I was right to hate pea netting. I only used it because I already had some, purchased years ago because I was advised to use it for plant support in a cutting garden. It’s ugly, but I had it, and I thought I could re-use it. How wrong I was. By the time I had successfully separated the sweet peas and the poles from the netting, it was shredded. So it went in the bin.

The second lesson was much more welcome. Everyone says that sweetcorn picked fresh and eaten within ten minutes or so is unbelievably sweet, much better than anything you can buy from the supermarket. I love sweetcorn. We all do. So as I left the plot I picked the two cobs that seemed fat and ready, walked home and steamed them straight away.

Sweetie Pie

The aptly named Sweetie Pie was almost too sweet, no butter required.

41 thoughts on “A question of support

  1. Hi Janet,

    Oh dear, you really must’ve been having some winds recently! Although it doesn’t look too bad and it’s easy enough to fix so not really too much of an issue!
    We’ve been having some strong blustery winds from the Hurricane but nothing too bad, thankfully. Otherwise it’s actually been a beautiful september day with temps around 21/22oC. Lovely weather.
    You’ve had a serious amount of beans! I think I’d be well and truly bored of them by now! So far my one and only successful french bean plant has a grand total of 3 pods on it. W000000000t. They just kept on failing, I’m guessing the seeds are old and I need to buy fresh? They must only be three seasons??

    1. Hi Liz, we’ve had some warmer weather too, but wet and windy with it, so not exactly “sit outside and eat icecream”! Fortunately I really love beans, and have now got plenty blanched in the freezer ready to eat in the depths of winter when nothing is growing apart from chard and sprouts. I’m guessing buying fresh bean seed would help, though I too find that germination varies lots. I sowed double what I eventually managed to plant out.

      1. Ah, thanks for that… I seemed to sow loads and they’d begin to sprout and then suddenly disappear. So next year I’ll make sure I sow loads so I hopefully get enough; although previously I’ve never had problems with their germination. Oh well.

        Hopefully the winds will go soon, at least here they’ve quietened – I haven’t heard it howling down the chimney for a few hours now.

  2. The winds are so strong! The top horizontal pole on our runner bean support has slipped almost out despite being tied at the junction with every inverted v of standing canes. Will have to try and shore the frame up later.
    It’s been a great year for legumes, hasn’t it? Hope that your last crop of mangetout make it before the frosts, and that the wind doesn’t do any more damage to your allotment.
    Great looking sweetcorn. Must check ours, it could well be ripe for our first crop one of these days…

    1. Yikes, if something that well lashed failed my teepee really didn’t stand a chance! Why was this such a good year for legumes do you think? Given they are such thirsty plants you would think they would have suffered… Hope your sweetcorn is delicious and plentiful.

  3. Hi Janet,
    I don’t think you can ever plan for every eventuality such as the tale end of a hurricane! Although like you I was going to earth the sweetcorn up and the remainder of the pea supports have broken. But unlike you it won’t matter as there isn’t much to eat! Your clover looks like ti’s doing a good job and you’re growing some interesting varieties of beans. Cherokee Trail of Tears – what a wonderful name. Does it have a history or has the name been dreamed up by some marketing man to catch romantics like me?
    I think it’s time to batten down the hatches as it’s getting very windy out there!

    1. Lots of history, saved by the Cherokee Indians: “In 1838 they were driven out of their homelands in the state of Georgia by the US government to make room for more European settlers , a forced march known as the ‘Trail of Tears’. This bean is one of their heirlooms they managed to keep with them and has been passed on from generation to generation ever since.”

  4. I guess we’ll have leaning legumes on our plot too – sadly the sweet corn have not really produced but let’s look on the bright side – we won’t be too upset if they have blown over!

  5. I wish you lived closer so I could give you a big hug. It must be truly horrible to go up to your allotment and see this. The winds are thrashing things around here too but so much died while I was on holiday I’ve (almost) got over my ‘oh no!’ phase and will just let go of this year with a bit of a heavy heart. You have much more to let go of and the winds are still active. Very best wishes and a virtual hug.


    P.S. I have never, not even once, managed to grow either sweet corn or peas..

    1. Hi Esther, thank you, the virtual hug is greatly appreciated – pity I can’t collect on a real one. So sorry to hear you came home to death in the garden, it can all be so dispiriting at times. Consider yourself hugged back, virtually at least. As opposed to virtually hugged back, which makes it sounds as if I was approaching you for a hug and tripped up at the last minute or something…

  6. Looks like the winds were hard on more than just your allotment. I like the natural elements for the vines to grow on….netting –ugh! So happy for your sweet corn! What a delight. it was so dry here this year that corn was hard to come by at the farmer’s markets.
    I applaud your yield of beans, what a marvelous crop!

    1. We weren’t quite as lucky with the second picking of corn yesterday – 4 cobs, two perfect, two half blind. We were good and shared with one another! I am completely with you on natural plant supports.

  7. The wind looks like it did a number in the gardens. But you have been getting some nice looking produce. Corn here was not as sweet as other years and was a lot more mealy tasting than ever before. Pretty bad year for a lot of vegetables here.

    1. That’s interesting Donna, I’ve been noticing how weird your weather has been compared to when I was following your blog last year. Hard for the farmers, at least for me it is lifestyle not living.

    1. Unexpected and unwelcome! But we have been getting good crops since late Spring, certainly good enough to confirm my addiction.

  8. Despite the wind your plot is very productive, Janet, you must be pleased. I’m so glad you had some sweetcorn. There is nothing as wonderful as corn just picked, delicious! Regarding bean pollination; I read in Bob Flowerdew’s book that runner beans are very particular as to pollinating insects, mine have flowered their socks off but there haven’t been that many beans as I don’t think there is the right kind of bee, or not enough of them anyway. The thing about gardening is: we’re all learning all the time…..

    1. Hi Christina, I am, really chuffed at how much we have been able to eat from what we have grown. I think we may have eaten the best of the corn though, all the other cobs we have picked since have been mostly blind, which is apparently quite common this year. Interesting about runner beans being so fussy about what pollinates them. As you say, the learning never stops. Does Bob suggest companion plants for runners? My Grandad and Jacqui, who I learnt from on Anglesey, both always plant(ed) nasturtiums with them.

  9. Wind, wind, wind! With such strong winds I think it was mostly beyond anyones control just by using bamboo supports. The scenario in our garden yesterday was lots of toppled pots (that never toppled ever before) and lots of watering to do as the winds were dessicating some of the plants. Just glad the worst of it is over now, and compared to the north east we got off lightly.

    Great to see so much produce though, and that sweetcorn looks so yummy!

    1. Hope none of your pots broke? The wind does really dry things out, doesn’t it. I have a lot of very unhappy dahlias… The sweetcorn was out of this world, am now spoilt.

  10. Disappointing Janet, at least you have plenty beans to keep you going. I am very impressed with your sweetcorn, not teeny weeny things which I would have expected, they would not grow at all up here. Surprisingly in spite of the serious gales further south in Scotland, it more or less missed Aberdeen.

    1. Hi Alistair, glad you missed the gales – or rather that they missed you! I am hoping that the current relatively warm weather lasts long enough for the rest of the corn to ripen, even if it is now leaning rather. I imagine it is one of the crops you would need a polytunnel to grow up your way, even in North Wales it was a little touch and go outside.

  11. I think it’s been the windiest year for ages – and though my bean poles have stayed up, I haven’t actually had that many beans (the winds have just cut them off), so it’s all swings and roundabouts. At least my runners are starting to come on stream, but I’m very jealous of your cosse violettes – congratulations on that crop. I’ve had about four.

    (OK, I exaggerate. I’ve had eight.)

    1. Eight? Don’t know what you are complaining about then ;-) If I lived closer we could swap apples for beans… Glad your runners are starting to perform for you, hoep they don’t get blown away. BTW, it is very cruel of you to dispel the myth that beach-combing yields wonderful treasures…

      1. I’m quite prepared to ship apples anywhere. The word must be getting round, though, because this am the postie almost sprinted down the path and threw the post at the door before zooming off. Last year, it would have been beans…

        Actually I found a bottle with a genie in it on the beach, but I’m keeping it quiet as one of the conditions of our agreement. Ooops.

    1. Hi Elaine, today is warm, sunny and only slightly windy, so am hoping the corn decides to ripen despite its less than vertical stance.

  12. EEk to the winds Janet – I do feel for you – but overall your crops have been stalwarts! Plot looking good!

    I love sweetcorn too – that did look yummy

    Are the ‘tears of the cherokee’ beens from Real Seed Co?

    1. Hi Fay, we got the best first on the sweetcorn front, most of the rest are coming up at least partially blind, which is a shame. And yes, I got ‘Trail of Tears’ from Real Seeds, we ate the first picking for tea tonight, delicious. Mind you, a lot harder to pick than the purple ones, they merge in with the leaves and stalks. Stealth beans!

    1. Yes, I think I got of quite lightly really, though the corn looks very sorry for itself! More lessons learned…

  13. I have never grown corn myself but last year we bought fresh corn at a farm and took it home to eat that night. I’ve never tasted better in my life. Amazing. I’m sure you enjoyed that meal all the more since you grew it too! I realized the importance of good staking this year when the stakes fell over with the plants. Bigger, taller and deeper might be the trick?

    1. I think you are spot on Marguerite, I used my own bamboo, and I think it was too slender to do the job, at least up there with all that exposure. I am now a total convert to eating corn picked really fresh, a totally different experience from shop-bought. It doesn’t always apply, no matter what we tell ourselves, but in this case home grown wins hands down!

  14. So glad you were able to put everything together again and then be rewarded with nice, sweet corn afterwards!

    1. That corn made up for a lot Cat, but next to your tribulations I – and my garden – have got off very lightly.

  15. it certainly has been rather gusty. Our runner bean canes were blown (some snapped) over by the winds but fortunately we’d finished eating them weeks ago having had such an early crop from them this year.
    Your sweetcorn looks fab – I didn’t grow any this year as I thought I wouldn’t have the space (not so with hindsight!)

    1. The corn looks better than it is Nic, a lot of the cobs are showing wholly or partially blind, I think we’ve had the best of them. There’s always next year!

  16. Harvesting is the best part of planting.. They are rewards for tour hard work!

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