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Growing Runner Beans

runner bean seedling

It almost felt like I was intruding peeling back the compost just so I could snap this seedling as it lost a little of its coat as it just sprouted its first leaf.

runner bean seed runner bean flower

The Phaseolus flowers are noted as being a favourite of the hummingbird and the runner bean noted for containing traces of the poisonous lectin, Phytohaemagglutinin, found in common beans.

runner bean pests runner bean leaf

The big problems I have suffered in the past with the Phaseolus coccineus [runner bean] have been from birds unearthing the seeds and running off with them and assuming I can get past that point and see the seed germinate – as you can see above left – it is snails and other varying pests that I must then deal with.

That said, I personally don’t like using chemical based products on any of my food crops and so in this case I’ll just have to hope that the plant can grow quicker than it can be eaten – it can by the way. The next step is to give them some support by way of canes or guiding wires.

Not to be confused with the broad bean, I’m possibly on the verge of pushing my luck with the Runner bean as regards publishing this post at this point of the season… but it’ll be here for next season and this is as they look in my garden now.

I did this video of how to sow seeds waaaaay back in June 2009. It just so happened at the time the seeds used were in fact runner beans. I have since gotten a haircut.

The Cheaters Guide To Growing Your own

It is a question that comes up a lot…. Mainly from people who have a job, 42 kids, a life, a dog and a door bell. A lot of which will fit into the category of

I’ve got maybe 10 minutes in the evening. It’s not enough time! what can I do to grow my bits, something, anything, in the garden… ?

I’m not going to write some big bible crapola on what you can do. This post is put simply what I am doing. What I planted last year and what takes little or no effort.

I’m going to split this post into four parts. Tall, medium and small – plant them and walk away and the bit you could potentially call farming.

The first is what for me was and is an investestment, of sorts.

It’s the fruit trees and the like. They are planted once. Paid for once and require very little attention thereafter. You see the fruit. You pick the fruit. You eat the fruit.

I have written many times on trees in this blog. The how to plant will never change. It’s what you plant that’s important. The key is to chose the tree to fit the space from an eventual size, growth per annum and type of fruit you want.

I personally have 10 eating apples, 5 cooking apple, 5 pear and 5 edible cherry trees. But don’t let that impress you. I have experimented with some fig, apricot and olive trees but really, you should just choose what you like in the amount that will suit you and the type. There’s some maintenance in everything [even tarmacadam], but it’s minimal if you do your homework. Here’s five you can try that will give you a return pretty soon. In your case – just remember there’s usually a reason why a tree will be cheaper. Buy once. And buy very well.

In this category

  • apple trees
  • pear trees
  • plums
  • apricot
  • cherries

The second group don’t grow as tall and are really great in small spaces, balconies and apartments and as with the trees, can all be planted in pots, if you wish.

Once again the same rules apply. You plant the fruit, pick it – when it appears and then eat it. Some say the rhubarb needs the stools split, but you don’t have to if you don’t want to. Similarly the bushes will need some select pruning the same as the taller trees… but not much. The correct purchase should mean a handful of clippings as versus a trailer load. Once again. Buyer be [very a]ware.  But once and buy well. It will pay you back.

  • blackberries
  • rhubarb
  • gooseberries
  • bay laurel
  • red currants

The third lot are the lower growers and in fairness if you have a set of pots and pans your regular picking will be all the pruning it needs.

This plethora, for me include

Not much to it after that… and not much more to say being quite fair.

The last lot is something I don’t really want to list and require a little or a lot more attention.

But if you have any amount of category 1 and/ or 2/3 in your space you already look green. So now you can choose less of these babies depending on the time limit you have. If you’ve been following Philips 3 square metre farm patch on the podcast – you’ll have a better idea of where I’m going with this. Moreseo, you’ll better appreciate why I agree that 3 square metres is more than enough to keep your home filled with produce.

Last year I grew the following – and more – but I won’t bore you with the gory details and will tell you the ones I found the easiest. I grew all of these in old pots, pint glasses, window boxes or whatever could contain some amount of soil as a by the way.

The reason these are in a group all of their own is because unlike the other groups… with this final batch – once you crop it or it comes to the end of the season you must start all over again the following year and grow them again – where the others generally speaking – just keep on giving.

What about that for a relationship. I ignore you for an entire year. And then you arrive at my home and say

….here ye go buddy, have a big box of juicy apples

Ah sometimes I’m just so ruddy hilarious I crack myself up 😆

So I could have put the image of the seedlings at the top and told you of my years of studying horticulture – but being really honest this post is about encouraging those who aren’t so green who’d love a dabble and would maybe like to look a bit greener. In that same breath it’s not rocket science. And anyone who tries to tell you different is full of it.

You don’t need an allotment, an acre or a garden [Great for you if you do]. You need a window ledge, or a balcony or a small patio – maybe it’s some jam jars or 2 hanging baskets – and you also need an ability to smile, because sometimes a plant simply decides it doesn’t feel like growing where you want it grow. The it’s not you it’s me scenario. But ultimately, one should remember any plants sole purpose on this planet is to reproduce and as long as you understand that – it will do what it’s supposed to do.

For this gardener, I’ve never bought super dooper compost, a propagator kit or miraculous growing fertilisers. Ever. Not for food crops.  In fact I’ve never even bought a soil testing kit. I give all of my plants no special treatment.

What I will say is I maybe have a better understanding of plants and a happy confidence in the fact that it will grow. But…. any gardener that says they know it all and has never got it wrong is most likely in a straight jacket. That said, I still talk to all of my plants. I play the vinyl player when I am gardening in my spare time and most important of all I enjoy it.

Back to it, last week I planted onions and garlic. More importantly, as I said in the post the growing season [for 2011] has officially started

The problems that usually arise, garden wise, are best described with hindsight being that of 50:50 vision, in the context that once one sees the plant in its fullest glory one may wish they had planted some of this or that, that could only be there if planted some months previous.

For now, it is February. For your garden, patch or space – Go forth – give it a lash. Let me know how you get on. If you do have any problems…. I’m here for you when and if you need me. Don’t forget to smile. 🙂

Mammoth Onions

Originally this was supposed to be a part of the garden podcast – episode 23 but I honestly became so intrigued by this one that I decided to make it an entirely seperate post and seperated the audio out of it.

Whilst I purchased The ‘globo’ variety, the varieties that Jane recommends are

  • kelsae
  • ailsa craig
  • unwins exhibition
  • robinsons mammoth

If anyone else is interested in doing this as a sort of online communal together sort of way….. let me know and lets see if we can have a bit of craic together.

Updates on how I and we get on will follow shortly.

Onions

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The above is my crop of onions that I harvested on Saturday.

Some seem to suggest that I have a relaxed attatude to growing my own. But that’s just it. It’s mine. Also, I like to think that I just make it look too darned easy 😉 I know people who can’t grow. Who have tried to grow and failed at the very first hurdle. I simply hope this takes some of the myth and hypes out of what is essentially a very simple process.

I grew these from members of the Allium family from sets [tiny weeny bulbs for want of a better description]. I paid zero attention to the names and spacings. I just popped them in the the pots. Once again and the same as with any bulb [a store of food] the only thing to remember is that they are planted twice their own depth below soil level.

In conversation with Michael Nugent Snr the questioned suggestion was should one trim the foliage, bend it, or tie it over as one might do [I don’t] with a daffodil. I don’t, put simply. I think plants should be just that and sometimes they are allowed to look a little rugged or ragged. They also look really cool tied up in the kitchen.

Home Grown Beets

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I grew these beetroots from seed about two months ago and as you can gather from the empty pot I simply cropped them as they were required. They are probably one of the easiest things ever to grow and develop fairly quickly.

I chose to sow them in plug cells first and then pot them on. The ones I grew are the Boltardy variety. That said, I’m not intended on being a commercial beetroot farmer any time soon – my advice, if you can’t find this variety, simply pick up a packet of whatever is available and work away. The boltardy ones however tend not to wish to bolt [the production of flower and therefore seed too soon] as fast and also have a really good flavour.

I never paid much attention to the sowing calender guides on the back of the packets. I also applied the one for the slug one for me rule here. After that, I chose as you see to do mine in pots, mainly so I could put them by the back door of the kitchen.

Not much else to to it…. and of course any questions, just pop a comment in below.