Monthly Archives: May 2020

  • Grow at Home: Cucamelons a real crowd pleaser

    cucamelons_50pGrowing Cucamelons

    Cucamelons look like mini watermalons and taste like cucumber with a hint of lime. Also known as Mexican sour gherkin or Mouse Melon, they originated in Mexico but are easy to grow here.  They are drought tolerant and best of all most garden pests totally ignore them!

    Eating

    Beware!  Even though they produce masses of fruit throughout the summer, very little makes it as far as the kitchen, being eaten straight off the plant by anyone who passes. They are just so picakble and bite sized!

    If any of them do make it into the kitchen cucamelons can be eaten in exactly the same way as a normal cucumber in salads and sandwiches. They are also great served with drinks along with a few nuts and olives.  Alternatively use it in the drink itself and serve a Cucamelon Martini or add a  magic twist to G&T or Pimms on a summer day.

    Sowing

    Sow seeds blunt end down, 1cm (1/2") deep from April to May.  Keep on a window cill or greenhouse with a  temperature of 22-24ºC (71-75ºF) Water regularly.  When the seedlings are large enough to handle transfer them into 10cm (4") pot.

    Once they are established you can move them to their final growing place.  This can be a  greenhouse, or outside in a planter or the ground.  To grow them outside wait until the last frost date has passed and then plant 30-40cm (12-16″) apart.  They are climbers so need a support of some sort.  This could be canes or a planter such as the Climbing Tomato Planter that has an inbuilt support.

    Care

    cucamelonsWater and feed regularly with a liquid tomato fertilizer. Once the main shoot has reached a around 2.5m (8ft), pinch out the growing tip to stop it going further. Also pinch out the growing tip of the side shoots when they are about 40cm (16″) long.

    Harvesting

    The plants will start to fruit in July and carry on to late September. Harvest them when they are the size of olives or small grapes and are still firm. Don't leave them any longer or they will become bitter and/or soggy.

    Overwintering

    Cucamelons can be nursed through the winter to give fruit year after year. Once the fruiting period is over, lift the cucamelon’s main root and store in barely moist compost in a garage or shed over winter.  You can then plant it out again in April to start all over agian.

     

     

     

  • Product Bite: Easy Path

    What is Easy Path :

    EasyPath PE Wheelbarrow

    Easy Path is an instant fold-out garden pathway for placing between rows of vegetables, herbs, flowers or strawberries so that you can work between the crops without damaging the soil or weilding planks of wood.

    What crop is it for:

    Anything that you plant in a veg bed as well as flowers borders - its great for getting to the back of beds without leaning and stretching.  Much kinder on your back than trying to manage without.

    Where can I use it:

    Easy_Path_PotatoesUse it anywhere where you have soil that you don't want to tread on and compact.  In healthy soil half of the volume should be made up of solid material.  The remainder should be either water or air.  If the soil becomes compacted then it harder for the roots of plants to penetrate the soil.  There is also no space for the water and air that are needed for excahnge of gases a healthy ecosystem of soil microbes.

    What's so special about it?

    It is portable and lightweight and stores easily.  A plank of wood could do a similar job.  However, the Easy Path is much easier to move and can used in places where you wouldn't want to put a plank of wood.  It can be laid down and left but it can also be rolled out, used and then foded away.  For example it can be simply laid down in a flower border while weed, then packed away.  Much easier than carting a plant of wood round.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: Easy Path doesn't have its own video yet but you can see it in action in our Frost Protection Video (about one minute in) - head over to our YouTube channel to see Frost Protection

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Super Strawberries

    Buy it Now:  See it here Easy Path

     

  • 4 Types of Gardeners - which one are you?

    There are 4 types of gardeners -- which one are you?

    The Escapees

    Types_of_gardeners_The EscapeesThese people will generally have an allotment although they can be found in the garden shed equipped with a kettle or corkscrew.  They are generally there because they don't want to be somewhere else.  Even before Lockdown these gardeners were running away from busy households, stressful jobs and being trapped between 4 walls.

    The lure is a combination of fresh air, a mug of tea enjoyed in silence and being surrounded by greenery.  They do like growing stuff but if its too wet to be out you won't hear them complain.

     

     

     

    The Tribe

    Types_of_gardeners_The_Tribe

    These are the the people who are there for the people.  They love other gardeners and like a chat as they lean on their spade.  You'll find them on allotments and at Gardening Clubs sitting in the back row.  They will be the one wearing a "Stay Calm and Keep Gardening" T-shirt to prove their dedication and will be happy to give and receive advice.

    All the chatting over the years may mean they turn into an expert.  Their plot may not have as much planted as the next person's (where does the time go?) but they'll have a chat about it if you like...

     

     

    The Warriors

    Types_of_gardeners_The_Warrior

    These gardeners are there with a purpose.  A higher purpose.  They are there to save the planet or at least do their bit.  Vegetables feature heavily on their plot and in their diet.  They will care deelpy about reducing food miles and will know the mileage between their allotment and their home so they can scatter their lengthy blog posts with the necessary stats.

    They are to be admired for eating seasonally and their in depth knowledge of international pickling techniques.

     

     

    The Snappers

    Types_of_gardeners_The_SnapperFor these gardeners the plot is a studio or film set for their life story.  These gardeners will be stocking their plot with all things photogenic  - they will have cucamelons tumbling from planters, carrots in every colour but orange and sunlight glinting through rainbow chard.

    They opened the Instagram account the day they go the plot - nothing like a good before and after picture!  And if you follow them you will get to experience every garden bird, shaft of sunlight and emerging seedling as they happen.

     

     

     

    Which one are you?

    Which one of our types of gardeners are you?  Most people will identify more with more than one.  Whatever category you fit into (or don't fit into) chances are you are getting a lot out of being in the garden.  A survey done by Gardeners’ World magazine in 2013 found that 80 percent of gardeners reported being “happy” and “satisfied” with their lives, compared to 67 percent of non-gardeners.

    It is hard to pin down why gardening works but it is proven to relieve stress.  Key reasons why gardening makes us feel good are that it is both physical exercise, which releases endorphins, and also a creative passtime that allows us to express ourselves.  It gives responsibility for nurturing the plants and a sense of achievement when you move from the 'before' to 'after'.  It has certainly been a sanctuary for many during the pandemic.

    So if you know anyone who is stressed then buy them a pot plant.  Its not a joke.  Just having a single house plant to look after has been proven to reduce stress and make you feel more energised.  It helps you think more clearly, and starts to relieve anxiety or depression.

    Even if we can't pin down the reason why gardening helps there are countless real life stories of it happening.  We'd love to hear yours...

    Types of gardeners

  • Product Bites: Deep Rootrainers

    What are Deep Rootrainers :

    Rootrainers are innovative planting cells.  They are the perfect start for nearly all plants and especially those that are sensitive to disturbance and require deep root runs.

    Ideal for seeds, seedlings, plugs and cuttings, they require less compost than ordinary pots.

    There are 32 cells which come in openable 'books' so that the seedlings can be planted on without disturbing the roots.  The cells fit snuggly into a tray and there is a clear plastic lid that can be used as a drip tray to water and then flipped over to turn the set up into a mini propegator.

    What crop are they for:

    deep_rootrianers_with_beansDeep Rootrainers are perfect for plants that have deep roots like beans, peas, pumpkins, tomatoes and sweet peas.  They are the most common ones used by veg growers.

    Rapid Rootrainers and Compact Rapid Rootrainers are also available for bedding plants, salads and herbs.  And Maxi Rootrainers are the biggest in the range, used for growing broad leaved trees.

    Where can I use them:

    They are great for the greenhouse, a window cill or with the lid on they can act as a mini-greenhouse if you want to use them outside.

    What's so special about them?

    Rootrainers_diagram_showing_root_formation

    Strong straight roots are a fundamental requirement of healthy and successful growth.

    The rectangular shape provides a greater surface area and the grooves allow more roots to develop on the outside of the plug. Plants are also easily extracted from the ‘open books’ without root disturbance providing the perfect plug plants.

    Rootrainers are well known and well loved by horticulturalists, commercial growers and all the best gardeners.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Rootrainers

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Rootrainers What size cell to use  or Grow at Home: Broad Beans

    Buy it Now:  See the full range here Rootrianers

     

  • Grow at Home: 5 Top tips for making compost at home

    compost_giant_marrow_with_stickmanCompost for Beginners

    A major positive to come out of the global pandemic is that people the world over are spending more time in their gardens and small growing spaces.  Autumn village shows will surely be inundated by huge veg and beautiful blooms.

    So with the lawn mown, the beds weeded and the seedlings emerging what else is there to do?

    The answer is to start your own compost off.  And with Councils in some areas no longer collecting garden waste this is the ideal time.

    1. Your Compost Bin

    First you need a compost bin.  What this compost bin looks like depends on the space you have in your garden.

    Large

    compost_bin_fullIf you have a large garden with a spare corner then you can build a compost heap rather than buying a container.  This can be done using heat treated timber (so no nasty chemicals leach into your heap).  Even old pallets will work - check the stamp to make sure they are safe.  Nail whichever wood you use together into a box shape.  Ensure that there are gaps so that air can circulate and you may want to wrap it in chicken wire to stop the contents escaping.

    Choose a site that is level and well-drained.  This will allow excess water to drain away easily. This also helps worms to get in and break down the content - more of them later.

    Medium

    compost_rollmix_being_filled_by womanFor smaller spaces those bins that look like a Daleks are readily available from either Garden Centres (phone them many are delivering at the moment) or your local Council.  These are various shapes and sizes but all will do the job.

    Small

    If you don't have the room for a big bin or just don't generate that much waste then the Rollmix Composter is for you.  This compact compost bin will fit in the smallest of space and is much more fun to turn than any other bin!

     

    2. Use the Right stuff  (and avoid the wrong stuff!)

    So how do you make compost?  The key rule is to use an even amount of 'greens' and 'browns' by volume to create a balance.  Add them in layers, watering as you go to keep the whole heap moist.

    Greens

    Vegetable peelings, grass clippings, fruit waste, teabags (if plastic free), dead bunches of flowers and plant prunings. These are fast to break down and provide important nitrogen as well as moisture.

    Browns:

    Include things such as straw, sticks. leaves, cardboard egg boxes, newspaper, crushed egg shells and scrunched up paper. These are slower to rot but provide vital fibre and carbon and also allow important air pockets to form in the mixture.

    Don't ever put meat or dairy products into your compost bin.  Also avoid diseased plants, and perennial weeds (such as dandelions and thistle) or weeds with seed heads.  There is a chance the temperature in your heap will get high enough to kill these off but it can not be gauranteed so best to avoid them.  Also avoid any dog poo or cat litter as this will lead to pests and smells which no one wants!

    3. Get the Balance Right

    You need four main things:

    • Greens
    • Browns
    • Air
    • Water

    The process works best when you get a good balance between the four things.  If your compost is too wet, add more ‘browns’. If it’s too dry, add some ‘greens’. Add air by using scrunched up paper and also by turning your compost.

    It is a good idea to add a few handfuls of soil or a compost activator to encourage the correct enzymes in your compost.  To use the accelorator mix a small amount into water, pour it onto your compost.

    A well-cared-for compost heap requires regular turning, which can be a tricky job unless you are using a Rollmix composter in which case it is easy! See if for yourself here Rollmix Video.

    If you aren't using Rollmix then turn with a fork or tip the compost out, mix and then put it back in the bin to boost to carry on maturing.

    Your compost should be ready in about 10 weeks. When it is ready you’ll have a dark brown, almost black soil-like layer at the bottom of your bin. It should have a spongy texture and will be rich in nutrients. Spreading the finished compost into your flowerbeds greatly improves soil quality by helping it retain moisture and suppressing weeds. It also reduces the need to use chemical fertilisers and pesticides.

    If you have any lumps like bits of stick that haven't decomposed yet in it, then an Easy Riddle is a simple way to get rid of them - check out this fun look at how it works  Easy Riddle

    4. Turn fallen leaves into compost too

    compost_sacksYou can add leaves to your compost heap but you may find you have too many to keep the green/ brown balance right.  In this case you might prefer to place them in Composting Sacks.  These large biodegradable bags can then be stored for a year or two.  The resulting "Gardeners Gold" is a brilliant moisture-rich soil improver that’s great to use for potting mixes as an alternative to peat. The leaves will be kept neatly in one place and the sack will biodegrade, leaving you with a rich pile of wonderful compost.

    See them in action over on our You Tube channel Compost Sack Video

     

    5. Let the worms do the hard work

    earthworm_on_compostNature has provided us with the perfect waste disposal unit in the garden worm. Normally earthworms live in vertical burrows drawing leaves and other plant debris down.  And they do exactly the same in your dark, moist compost heap - so there is nowhere they like better.  Its like a worm buffet where they can eat the waste material you add and convert it into compost full of worm casts.  Worm casts are small heaps of muddy soil ejected from the digestive tract of the worm They are excellent for plants adding all the essential nutrients that plants need into your compost.

    I do hope that this has helped and taken some of the mystery out of making compost.  Let us know how you get on...

  • Grow at Home: Turnips


    3_turnips_purple_growing_in_ground
    Turnips are an easy to grow crop to grow at home.  And if you've been put off by the flavourless shop bought version, you may be pleasantly surprised by what a delicious and versatile crop it can be.

    Although the root is normally round, cylindrical root shapes are not uncommon in earlier varieties and colours can range from white to yellow and purple.

    Where to grow turnips

    Turnips thrive in firm, fertile soil that retains moisture. Dig in the autumn and incorporate plenty of well rotted manure or garden compost to help retain moisture.

    Grow best in a sunny position but can tolerate some degree of shade.

    As always, especially with root crops, rotate your planting to avoid soil-borne pests and diseases.

    Sowing Turnips

    Different varieties are sown at different times of the year from late winter right up until September.  So you can get early, spring sown and main crop turnips.  Check your seed packet before planting to find out which variety you have.

    Sow thinly in rows 1cm deep with 20 cm between rows for the early crops.  And thin to around 15cm apart after germination. Successional sowing during spring and summer will ensure a steady supply.

    For turnips to be harvested in autumn or winter, sow in late summer to the same depth but thin to 20cm between rows for a slightly larger root.

    For a crop for next year, sow under cloches in late winter.  Easy Tunnels would work.  you could also use a tunnel to protect spring sowings (March to June) from particularly harsh spells of weather.

    Aftercare

    Water regularly to prevent bolting.  Keep rows weed free using a Speedhoe

    Harvesting and Storage

    Pick turnips harvested in summer when they are the size of a golf ball - don't allow them to become woody and they will taste better when picked young.

    bunch_of_harvested_turnips_on_bench

    Leave autumn and winter varieties in the ground and harvest when required.  Alternatively lift and store in moist sand in a shed or garage or even easier, in a natural jute bag such as the Haxnicks Vegetable Sacks. (Great for your potatoes and carrots too!)

    Turnip Pests and Diseases

    They are prone to the same pests and diseases as cabbages;  mainly flea beetle.  You should avoid growing in ground previously used for brassicas and cabbages, considering turnips in the same group when planning crop rotation.

    Violet rot and clubroot can be a problem which can be prevented by good crop rotation.  To combat it destroy any affected plants on the bonfire or dispose of away from the garden.

  • Product Bites: Water Saucers

    What are Water Saucers:

    water_saucer Water Saucers are a simple self-watering system for potted plants.  The Saucer sits under any plant pot.  The plant roots draw up the water they need via the super absorbent capillary wick.  

    What crop are they for:

    They work for any plant in a pot.  Anything from geraniums to runner beans can benefit.

    They are perfect for pairing with Vigoroot pots and great for watering when away for a few days

    Where can I use them:

    Before planting up a pot, simply thread the capillary wick half way up the pot (if the pot has no drainage holes you will need to cut or drill a small hole in the base of your pot).  If you already have a plant in a pot you can retro fit the wick - see the YouTube video for how to do this.

    What's so special about it?

    The plant can get water as and when it needs it.  The wick sits in the water-filled saucer enabling the plant to independently draw up water as required. You can also add liquid feed to the water supply and the plant can self-feed too! Over and under-watering will no longer be a problem as plants will be provided with a consistent water supply. The large capacity of the water saucers will mean that  plants can be left to look after themselves for extended periods too.

    Water saucers are perfect for pairing with Haxnicks Vigoroot™ pots and mean that much less room is needed to grow veg for example crops such as runner beans can be grown in pots as small as 5 litres.

    Find out more: 

    See it in action: To see it in action head over to our YouTube channel Water Saucers 

    Related Blogs:  Read about it in use Grow at Home: Broad Bean Experiment

    Buy it Now:  Find it here Water Saucer

     

  • Kids in the garden - a guide to the learning opportunities outside your back door

    This blog is for the parents who have suddenly taken on the extra teaching job but would secretly like to just be in their garden.  A way to balance the learning, churning out a continuous supply of meals and snacks, dealing with the mess and working from home.

    Wouldn't it be nice if the kids could just go into the garden and learn?  They'd be in the open air.  You'd get some work done...

    So here is how the garden fits into your timetable and a few ideas to get them outside.  The ideas may take a little input to set up but when they are up and running hopefully your offsrping will be happy to go out and tend, water and generally potter.

    Ticking the Learning Boxes

    Being outside ticks a myriad of learning boxes.  This is especially the case with Primary School children.  But even for older children the garden can have a theraputic effect releasing stress and providing a sense of achievement.  it can also provide opportunities to design and run their own experiements .

    Here are just some ways that gardening meets the curriculum learning requiremnets.

    Science

    • set up eperiments - what happens when you over or under water (plant extra to find out)
    • germination - what happens to your seed when you plant it
    • photosynthesis - how do plants make their energy

    Maths

    • count out seeds
    • measure out plant food
    • estimate how much your plant will grow in a week/ how big it will get
    • measure height each week

    English

    • handle seeds - this uses fine motor skills so will help with pen control and hence handwriting
    • write growing instructions - helps with ordering thoughts, handwriting, spelling
    • write a story - base it on an existing story like Jack & The Beanstalk or let them think up their own

    Art

    • draw / paint your plants
    • tape leaves to a stick and use it as a paint brush (if your kids are really little you don't even need paint - just use water!)
    • look at pictures others have drawn of flowers and gardens
    • research artists and their relationship to gardens - like Van Gough and his fascination with the flower

    Easy Activities

    1) Sowing & Growing

    Sowing seeds

    learning_from_sunflowersKids want something that grows big and bold - sunflowers fit the bill perfectly.  You can compete with your neighbours and connect with others by entering them into the #SunflowerChallenge too.

    For useful tips on how to grow sunflowers check out this blog Grow at Home: Sunflowers 

    deep_rootrianers_with_beans

     

    Beans are a great plant for kids to grow too.  If you really want to see what goes on then you can grow a bean seed in a glass jar.  Moisten some kitchen paper and fit it around the inside of an old jam jar.  Add a bean seed between paper and the glass so you can see it from the outside.  Keep the paper moist and you should see the seed start to produce its roots and shoots.

    If you are  a purist then you may want to grow your bean in Rootrainers instead.  This will give the plants a better start.  You will still get to see all the lovely roots when you open up the books ready to plant them in their final position though.

    Sowing weeds

    You might have trouble getting seeds and if this is the case you can still grow flowers.  Dig up a young dandilion or daisy from the lawn making sure you get as much of the long tap root as you can.  Transplant it into a pot.  Water well and watch it grow.  Your own little flower garden.

    As well as seeing how the plant grows you can see how the plant sets its seeds and distributes them.  (Prepare for a few more dandilions next year!)

     


    Growing kitchen scraps

    Perfect low cost growing - take the top of veg like carrots or the stub of veg like celery, lettuce or even onions and put it in a shallow dish of water.  Change water every now and then and watch your veg sprout.  You won't get carrots (the root won't regrow) But you will get the lovely feathery foliage and possibly flowers.

     

    2) Their own Patch

    Eiffel-Tower-planterEven if you don't have a garden giving kids their own growing space is a great idea.  A few pots, an instant raised bed or a corner of the garden.  Then they decide what they want to grow and it is up to them to water, weed and generally look after it.

    Check out these two blogs for some veg that are easy to grow and can be eaten in as little as 4 weeks from sowing

    5 Veg that you can easily gorw in a Pot or Planter

    5 MORE Veg you can grow in pots

     

    3) Wildlife Watch

    Bug Watch

    The Great Bug Hunt is a competition usually only open to schools but now open to all.  There is the chance to win your child's class a bundle of bug exploration-related prizes.  The overall winner’s school will also get a hands on Insect Learning Day with the team from the RES.  They will get up close with an assortment of more unusual insect life.

    Its all about counting bugs and recording what you see.  The child with the best entry will also get a digital microscope.  This could be the start of a life long love of science.

    Chcek out their website for details of where this fits in the curriculum and exactly which skills it develops.  Great Bug Hunt

    Bug Hotel

    Even if you don't want to take part in the official hunt then you can easily build your own bug hotel.  Look in the garden or park for sticks, preferably hollow ones.  You can also raid the recycling box and roll up plastic to make tubes and add these.  Make your materials into a bundle and tie with string then place in a sheltered spot.  The hollow sticks are an ideal place for solitary bees to nest and you will soon find these and other insects moving in.

    Bird watch

    There are many resources on the internet that will allow you to identify the birds in your garden. You could get the kids to note which birds they see or you could try and attract new birds to your outside space.

    To attract birds it is easy to build a bird feeder out of an old plastic bottle.  Simply cut a large hole in the side and punch a few holes in the bottom to allow rain water to drain.  Attach string round the neck to create a loop for hanging.  Then fill with seed and hang it up out of reach of the local cats.

    4) Using it as another room

    If you are lucky enough to have a garden or balcony then consider using it as another room.   So, not just as a place to grow and sunbathe. But a place for some chilled out learning too.

    The one thing that all schools are demanding is that children still keep reading.  Change this up by taking blankets and cushions outside and doing your reading there.  Write and perform little open air theatre plays - either existing stories or ones your children have written.  If you have a tent, put it up and use it for reading or drawing or writing stories.

     

     

  • Grow at Home: Green beans

    Green beans come in bush or pole varieties and within these there are many, varied cultivars from Runners to Dwarf.  Traditionally called "green" beans the cultivars come in a whole range of shapes, sizes and colours including purple, orange, yellow and mottled.  So plenty to brighten up the veg garden and put on a show.

    What to plantBeans_on_plant

    What to plant depends a lot on what you like to eat, when you want to eat it and a little on the space you have.

    Bush green bean varieties grow to about 2 feet (60 cm) tall. They come in a week or two earlier than pole beans, but produce fewer beans

    Pole bean varieties can grow 8-10 feet (2.5-3 m), and need a trellis or something to climb on for support. They’re called “pole beans” because one popular way to grow them is in “teepees” made of bamboo poles or branches.  Pole beans take longer to start producing than bush beans, but they produce for a longer period and seem to have a bit more flavour.

    Runner beans are the ancestors of the modern green bean varieties and grow to 10-12 feet (3-4 m),  Many are put off by the stringiness of the shop bought ones but picking them fresh from your own garden is a different matter so these should still be on your list of potentials.

    If you really like green beans and have the space, then plant both bush and pole beans.  The bush beans will come in early in the summer, followed by the pole beans which will keep producing after the bush beans are done.

    Sowing

     

    If you have space, start the beans off indoors on a windowsill or in a propagator, in late April or May. Sow a single seed 1" (2.5cm) deep in Rootrainers or small pots.  Put them outside when the weather is good to harden them off.  They are a tender plant though that doesn’t tolerate frost so wait to plant them out until the risk of frost has passed.  Usually in late May/early June in the UK.  If in doubt (and to give them an extra boost) then once outside, cover them with a cloche or a tunnel to get them off to a great start.

    You can sow them directly outside from May to July but virtually no one does! Some types such as Climbing French beans will crop continually into September. But dwarf French beans crop only over a few weeks, so you may want to make an additional later sowing.

    Beans need a warm, sunny spot in well-drained soil.  Fork in some well-rotted manure before you plant yours out.

    Container Growing

    bean_planterIt is perfectly possible to grow beans in containers.  The Pea and Bean Planter holds 6 bean plants in the space of little bigger than a tea tray.  It has pockets to slot your canes into so makes it easy to support them.  This planter allows those with just a balcony or very little outside space to enjoy a summer's worth of home grown beans.

    You can also grow beans in Vegetable Planters or even a 5L Vigoroot Pot with a Water Saucer so the plant can take water as and when it needs it.  Beans will usually need a much larger volume of compost than this to grow successfully.  But, because Vigoroot air-prunes the roots then a compact 5L pot is all you need.

     

     

    SupportCane_bean_climbing

    When properly spaced, bush varieties grow together into small bushes and support each other, and need no trellising.

    All the climbing varieties need support though.  From the traditional A Frame or tippee arrangements of 6' to 8' bamboo canes held with ties to the sturdier no nonsense Steel Pea & Bean Frame.  This frame is great for beans, peas and even sweet peas.  It is a perfect option if you find tying canes together to be a bit too fiddly.  But your veg garden doesn't have to be boring, there are also more ornamental frames such as the Square Ornamental Frame or even a statement piece like the Eiffel Tower which could make your garden stand out from the crowd. 

    Whatever method you choose, loosely tie the plants to your support an they will naturally start to climb. Once the plant reaches the top of the support, remove the growing point. This will encourage side stems.

    Flower setbean_flowers

    Runner beans sometimes fail to set (there are flowers but no beans)  This was a particular problem in 2018 when there was actually a summer in the UK (!) The prolonged spell of really hot weather meant that there was insufficient moisture and flowers did not set.  To avoid this ensure the soil is constantly moist and doesn't dry out and mulch in June to retain moisture.  Watering the plants in the evening will also help and gently spraying the whole plant including near the flowers to increase the humidity encourages flowers to set.

    Flower set is better in alkaline, chalky soils. If your soil is neutral or acidic adding lime will help.

    French beans set flowers more easily than other varieties so if this is a persistent problem then it might pay to choose a different variety the following year..

    Harvesting

    Bush beans will take about 50 to 60 days to be ready to harvest.  Pole varieties will be a little longer at 70 to 80 days.

    Harvest the beans regularly as this will stimulate the plant to produce more beans.  Picking regularly will also prevent any pods reaching maturity.  Once a pod reaches maturity the plant will stop flowering and no more pods will be set. and the bean season will be over too soon.

     

    Youtube_LogoDid you know that Haxnicks has a YouTube Channel?  Subscribe Here for general gardening tips and to see how to use our products to get bigger, better yields from your crops, tackle pasts and generally make your gardening life easier.

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