May Clearances

I’m grateful that the warm weather has extended to the end of Autumn. It’s meant that I have still been able to plant some crops for spring. First I had to clear out the bed that had held the corn over summer. After our experience this year with the Scarlet Emperor beans re-growing from the previous season’s plants, I’ve decided to leave this year’s two Scarlet Emperor bean plants in the bed with the hope that they will also re-grow in summer.

The corn has been cleared and the bed has been reconditioned ready for our spring crops.
The corn has been cleared and the bed has been reconditioned ready for our spring crops.

I did buy two advanced Romanesca broccoli seedlings to give me a bit of a head start. I have also planted out two rows of Bulgarian Giant Leek seeds and put in 18 broadbean seeds. Over the coming week I will be looking out for the young shoots and hopefully I’ll find them before the snails do!

Two rows of leek seed in front of my Romanesca seedlings and broadbeans at the back.
Two rows of leek seed in front of my Romanesca seedlings and broadbeans at the back.

My seedlings are being protected from pecking by birds and or possums by a cage that I picked up at the re-cycling centre. I’ve already started putting support structures up for the broadbeans, (at the back of the photo), in this case the collapsible legs from our old camp chairs. I’m hoping they will keep the lower foliage in check as the plants grow and then I can put some strings around the poles to hold up the plants as they reach full height.

Meanwhile in the back garden TB has been planting garlic. We have lots of spinach, carrots, Jerusalem Artichokes, fennel and sorrel to use for warming winter soups. And bang on queue the first day of winter started with a drop in temperature and 14 mms of rain.

 

 

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The where have you Bean?

I’ve previously mentioned my Scarlet Emperor beans, which I like to grow in my front garden for their colourful flowers. Another reason I started growing this variety was their reported ability to re-grow year after year, a habit that gave them their alternate name of the ‘Seven-year’ bean. That is they are supposed to re-grow, perhaps in other people’s garden, but not our garden.

That was until about a month ago. I was picking some of my Gourmet Delight bush beans (a bean that does live up to its name), when I realised I was looking at a very non-bush bean like tendril climbing up from the garden bed!

Scarlet Emperor bean shooting out from under the Gourmet Delight beans.
Scarlet Emperor bean shooting out from under the Gourmet Delight beans.

It was a Scarlet Emperor Bean, noticeable because of its red flower. I am assuming that it has re-grown from the roots of the plant that I left in the bed from when I grew them here last year. Even if the plant happens to have grown from a seed that I missed when I picked them what is notable is that the plant has waited until the very end of summer to grow. It hasn’t germinated in spring, as you might expect. I won’t finally know what has happened until the bush beans have died back. Only then might I be able to see whether the Scarlet Emperor has sprung from last year’s plant.

As for the Scarlet Emperor beans I planted this year, they have, as in previous years, only just started to set pods now, after the worst of the summer heat has passed.

Pods starting to set on this year's Scarlet Runner Beans.
Pods starting to set on this year’s Scarlet Runner Beans.

Like they say better late than never.

Sister Act

I got up extra early yesterday to beat the heat while working on my ‘Three Sisters’ bed for this year. Out came what was left of the purple podded peas and in went a bag of compost from one of our bins. I also left the roots of the peas where they were so they could add nitrogen to the soil.

A ‘three sisters’ bed revolves around growing corn, beans and squash together in one bed. The corn supports the climbing beans and the squash provides ground cover to lower evaporation and provide a cool root run for the other plants. This planting scheme, developed by Native Americans, is eminently suited to Canberra’s hot dry summer growing conditions.

The start of the 'three sisters' bed with corn planted along with a spagetti squash.
The start of the ‘three sisters’ bed with corn planted along with a spagetti squash.

I had already tucked in a few plants of ‘Golden Bantam’ corn into the bed about a week ago. This time I added my remaining corn seedlings and a spagetti squash from our friend M. I think I have to describe my corn planting as ‘random’ blocks. They will, however, be close enough for wind pollination of the corn to occur.

The beans are growing away quite strongly in the polyhouse. I will plant them out in about a week’s time. I’ll be using my Scarlet Emperor climbing beans for this bed as the red-coloured flowers look really lovely in the garden. I always hope to seduce passing neighbours into growing veggies by showing them how good they can look.

Bean seedlings will be ready to plant out in a few days.
Bean seedlings will be ready to plant out in a few days.

I also wanted to reuse the pea stalks I pulled out, so I chopped them up roughly and put them down onto the bed.

Roughly chopped pea stems with some extra soil goes onto the bed as feed/mulch.
Roughly chopped pea stems with some extra soil goes onto the bed as feed/mulch.

I then threw some soil over them and topped the whole bed with sugarcane mulch.

The 'three sisters' bed ready for several days of hot weather.
The ‘three sisters’ bed ready for several days of forecast hot weather.

I’ll let you know how they are growing a bit further along in the season. (And a big wave to my actual three sisters as well.)