There comes a time each growing season, when gardeners have to decide that the chance of hard frosts has passed and they can start to move seedlings and young plants out of their greenhouses, into their final positions and for me, this year, that day was Thursday just gone (19th May). It was a warm but not overly hot afternoon, with a gentle breeze – perfect conditions really, especially for planting the willowy, fragile bean plants.
Well it was for about an hour, then the breeze picked up and the rain arrived!!! That said I did manage to get four Scarlet Emperor runner beans in along the back fence with five All Green Bush courgettes at their feet, the wigwams in place for the climbing and wax beans and eight of the Fasold Climbing Bean against one of the wigwams.
I haven’t grown Scarlet Emperor for a couple of years, having changed to a Heritage variety from a seed bank, from which I saved seed but I missed the mass of vibrant red flowers, the white ones of Tzar never really having the same dramatic impact and, to be frank, the taste and quality of the Tzar pods could never quite reach that of the Scarlet Emperor. As an added bonus, in my opinion, the prolific nature of Scarlet Emperor means that I should be able to grow fewer plants whilst harvesting a decent number of pods, a fact which should prove helpful this year. A first for this year though, is that I have also planted two more seeds at the base of each runner bean plant, in the hopes that they will germinate and provide a continuous crop, setting pods a few weeks after the seedlings, thereby extending my growing season without taking up any more space.
As for the courgettes, to be honest if all five plants reach maturity and start producing fruit, then we’re probably going to be facing a glut but as courgette freezes well when cut into chunks and coated in butter, and makes a nice addition to winter stews and bologneses, this shouldn’t be too much of a problem. Freshly picked courgette can also be grated and used as a substitute for carrot in carrot cake, can be eaten raw on salads and is a particular favourite of all in Mudville when cut into fingers, coated in batter and deep-fried. I haven’t had that much success with courgette in the last two seasons, hence the five plants, so I’m hoping that this year will be an improvement.
Rain and wind stopped play on Thursday and Friday wasn’t a good planting day for beans, so it was yesterday (Saturday) before I could get back out and finish the job.
First job on the list was the butternut squash plants which I decided to plant against the ranch fence which separates the vegetable garden from the lawn. I have successfully and productively grown these up and along this fence in the past. Before long eight plants had been placed at regular intervals along the fence, ready for planting out. A short cane was placed behind each, at a slant, with the top end of each caught by one of the holes of the chicken wire which spans the fence, to hold it firmly in place. As is my usual practice, once the plant was in the ground, its’ now empty plant pot was ‘planted’ into the ground beside it, ready for the copious watering and regular feeds each plant will need during the season. Squash and pumpkin plants require a good amount of water and the placement of the pots means that the water and feed gets right to the roots where it is needed.
In front of the butternuts are the potato mounds, from which, with luck, any day now foliage will burst through, indicating the successful planting of my seed potatoes a couple of weeks ago. Right at the front of this bed and in line with the gaps between the potato mounds, I have now planted four Santk Martin pumpkins, with a further two Rocket Pumpkins along the front of the smaller bed which joins the main one. In between the Santk Martin, I have also direct sown six Hundredweight pumpkin seeds, in pairs, just in case ……..
Next I turned my attention back to the beans with four more Fasold joining the eight already in place, along the first of the wigwams, another three Fasold and four Yellow Wax beans along the second. As with the runner beans, each of the 12 Fasold and Wax bean seedlings have been planted up with two more seeds at the base of each, again to hopefully facilitate a longer growing season, with less space needed. The wigwams are in two of the raised beds and in one corner of each another pumpkin has been planted with a pair of seeds sown in the opposite corner. One more pumpkin seedling and two seeds were sown in the half sized bed which also houses one of the legs of the wigwam against which a Yellow Wax bean has been placed, with another pumpkin in the third raised bed in that row which will also play host to the mange tout. Two more pumpkin seedlings (without additional seeds) were also planted in front of the courgettes in the fence beds and by then the rain and wind had returned, so I called it a day and went inside.
I still have pumpkin plants in the greenhouse but I’m thinking the twelve plants now in the ground, plus any that successfully grow from the directly sown seeds, should be more than enough to provide at least one decent sized lantern come Hallowe’en …….. surely!!!
I managed to get some sunny pictures this morning and I notice that a couple of the pumpkins and squashes already show signs of slug interest which is frustrating. I could do with a run of dry nights now to give the plants time to put on enough growth the minimise the impact of the slug damage. This afternoon I have weeding to do, more carrot seed to sow and there is space against the second wigwam for three of the cucumber seedlings to go out as well. It’s good to be back out in the garden.