Allotment Gardening – February tasks

What we’re up to right now, is:

Sowing certain plants indoors trays or pots - early beetroot, beans, summer cabbage, globe artichoke, lettuce and broad beans.

Last year we grew heritage broad beans, red ones, which were obviously a precursor of the Windsor variety. To just run through the difference - broad beans come in two main types (there are others, like dwarfing and heritage but with a bit of lateral thought you can usually see where your two foot tall beans or your burgundy coloured beans fit into one or the other type):
• The Long-pod plants have up to nine oblong beans per pod, hence the name! Generally considered the most hardy of the broad beans, these are the only ones it’s really worth sowing in autumn – when they should give you a crop about three weeks earlier that a spring sowing of the same variety.
• The Windsor varieties have only four to six round beans per pod. These are generally said to be tastier than the Long-pods and are less inclined to develop leathery skins. But they aren’t as hardy and should really only be sown in spring.

So we’re splitting the difference and going for dwarf broad beans and heritage beans grown from last year’s saved seed.

Sadly we don’t have room for spinach, although I notice a neighbour is sowing flat after flat, so maybe I’ll have something that he’ll be willing to swap for some of his first spring spinach to go in salads.

We’re also going to try, after last year’s success, sowing outdoors under cloches because while our February sown beetroot did nothing, we had plenty of lettuce and spring onions by doing this last year.

We’ve covered our rhubarb and we’re using up the last of our parsnips – the year’s turning again!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, February 11, 2008


Anonymous Anonymous said...

The broad bean is my favourite vegetable, yet I had no idea about all these different varieties. Especially interested in the dwarf variety, as, although my first crop last year was a good one, due to the size of the vines, especially after they collapsed, despite me putting netting along either side, they took over that whole portion of the garden. Indeed, I lost a lost of lettuces that I had planted too close to them.

So, the dwarf beans: same size pods, small foliage? Or smaller overall? And what about quantity?

Mark Hubbard

February 11, 2008 at 11:35 AM  
Blogger Paul and Melanie said...

I can honestly say I've never tried broad beans (growing or eating), but after a quick wander round our site I've seen that most plots are growing some... Perhaps I should give them a try and grow some next year if I like 'em...

Great blog by the way. :)

February 12, 2008 at 7:58 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Broad bean varieties are well worth considering - the dwarf varieties can be as short (they say) as two feet, although I've never seen them less than three feet tall - the pods are smaller although not proportionally smaller (say the plants are half as tall, the pods are about two thirds full size) as are the beans, usually. We are quite happy with this, as we use a lot of our beans in chinese meals where they are usually peeled (the outer layer removed) and with smaller beans there's no need to peel them as they don't get leathery. The one thing to watch though, is that the dwarf plants can get drought-struck faster than full sized ones. We had a few plants wilt on us in very hot weather while their bigger compatriots showed no sign of strain. Cropping - about two thirds of a full sized plant, I'd say, which, given the reduced height and space required, was a good return on the space used.

February 16, 2008 at 6:26 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Dear Paul and Melanie - what a lovely looking couple you are! Broad beans can be an acquired taste, so nip to the supermarket and buy a bag of frozen ones - if you like them, you'll ADORE the fresh variety, and I'll be posting some recipes for really tasty dishes to use them in as the year progresses.

I reckon your garlic will be okay you know ... if even a bit comes up you'll have a good return on your investment.

February 16, 2008 at 6:28 AM  

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