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:
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.
Then I took more of a look around.
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.
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.
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.
Guess the prevailing wind direction!
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
The aptly named Sweetie Pie was almost too sweet, no butter required.