Allotment broad beans and winter preparations

Yes, the first of the broad beans have emerged! As usual, despite the gales and snow, wind and sleet, the broad beans have decided it’s their time to appear. It always amazes me just how tough some plants are – the broad beans that are as tender as cherries when picked young enough, grow on a plant that emerges in the worst of winter and grows steadily through the most damaging and difficult weather of the year. Miraculous.

And yes, as an aside, that is black and gold distressed nail varnish in the photo – very Christmassy, I think, like a Renaissance picture frame …

Anyway, once I’d stopped showing off and put my work gloves back on, we had some winter protection to undertake. First, checking the covers on the compost bins. By next year we hope to have slanted plastic covers that provide for water conservation too, by taking the runoff from the bins into a little tank that can be used to water seedlings, but this year we’ve just got a couple of pallets laid over two of them and corrugated plastic over the third. This helps to retain the heat in the heap and stops it getting so wet through rain that all the nutrients are washed down into the soil below the bins.

Then checking the greenhouse. We haven’t ‘winterised’ the allotment greenhouse, because we start our seedlings off in the home greenhouse, so all we needed to do was check the joints, check the guttering from that greenhouse that runs into one of our two water butts (the other is on the celestial glasshouse [formerly known as the voodoo shed]) and finally to see if any of the plants that are being overwintered: sweet peas, tarragon, parsley, pelargoniums, thyme, need watering. They did, because the greenhouse door had blown open and one of the major overlooked effects of winter is the desiccating effect of cold winds, which take the moisture out of leaves as well as out of soil in pots – plants that have been well cut back, such as pelargoniums, probably only need watering once or maybe twice in winter, but herbs that get cut back and used, like tarragon and thyme, may need a monthly sprinkle of water, or more if they’ve been exposed to icy gusts, as ours were.

Finally we had to check the trees to ensure we had no broken branches that might come down (fortunately not, but we do have to get on with pruning the apples in the next fortnight) and damage our crops and then home to warm up!

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Tuesday, December 13, 2011


Anonymous Mark Hubbard said...

Had first feed of fresh seasons broad beans on New Year eve: a friend's crop, not mine unfortunately, as still have not been able to get a new vege garden going. Currently constructing a waist high one though.

Have a great 2012 Kay.

January 1, 2012 at 3:38 PM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

Thanks Mark, that sounds great. Given the earthquakes in NZ I'm amazed that you're even at the point of constructing a new garden - just goes to show you can't keep a good grower down!

January 3, 2012 at 7:04 AM  

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