Allotment mulches

This week we’ve mulched the borlotti beans. They get grass clippings to keep the moisture in and the weeds down. In the middle of the rows are large bottles that we water with watering cans (or if we are desperately short of time, with the hose) and usually six big bottles of water twice a week, with mulch, is enough to keep borlotti beans alive. One reason for this is that they are beans you only harvest at the end of the summer, not pick daily beans like French, runner or snap beans, so they take much less water as they aren’t constantly producing bean pods to replace the ones that have been harvested.

As you can see, we’ve moved the outward-leaning bean poles to plot 103. The bean frame is designed to ensure all the beans hang away from the plant and can easily be seen. Bean wigwams, pretty as they are, tend to hide vast amounts of beans on the inside of the wigwam, so you have to poke around to find them, and risk damaging smaller beans that aren’t ready to be picked. It takes two minutes to pick our bean frame, compared to ten minutes to pick a wigwam.

The pumpkins and squashes get cardboard over which we lay some wood chippings which are given away free by our local council. This helps keep the fruit off the damp soil and conserves moisture too. In the corner of each pumpkin bed is a little plant like a leek or a marigold that can take a bit of bullying from a cucurbit and still offers added value in terms of pollination, harvest or just prettiness.

We also mulch the strawberries with barley straw while they are fruiting, and grass once they stop and the net has been off for a couple of weeks. That gives the birds time to get in and harvest any lurking insects that interest them, and then the grass rots down over the autumn and winter to provide nutrients in the soil for the following year’s strawberry crop.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Blogger Joanna said...

The straw mulches we have used have been an absolute life saver this year once again. We had a drought for about a month but we didn't need to water anywhere near as often as our neighbours. I am trying Borlotti beans this year for the first time, hope they are going to do okay.

June 22, 2011 at 10:50 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

I reckon you're going to do well with borlottis, given what I've learned about your climate from your comments - as long as your September isn't too wet, you'll be fine!

June 28, 2011 at 1:24 AM  

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