Monday, 6 June 2011

Hose-pipe days

Here in the South of England this Spring we have had sustained warm, dry and very windy weather, which makes for very difficult growing conditions. My poor climbing beans have had a very rough start to their lives. I still have the cloches in place to give them a little protection from the wind

I have had to water the beds with the hose-pipe at frequent intervals - about every other day - and even so the soil remains dry and powdery on the surface. The leaves of these beans seem to me to be much smaller than normal. I think they are just surviving, not thriving.

I have been very careful to water the Broad Beans, since their pods are just beginning to set. If they get too little moisture at this point, the flowers will just drop off and the pods will not form.

Aren't the stems of Broad Beans unusual? They are square in cross-section, whereas most plants have cylindrical stems. I'm already beginning to think about eating Broad Beans. My favourite way is this: cooked Broad Beans with bacon lardons and feta cheese, served as an accompaniment to pork chops. Or perhaps "Bissara" a Moroccan Broad Bean puree, served with a squeeze of lemon juice and fingers of toasted pitta bread. Or beans in a white sauce flavoured with Savory. Yummmm!

Maybe it's because of the dry conditions, but the potatoes are covered in aphids now. Normally I would not expect aphids to go for potatoes. They normally go for juicier targets.

The Physalis plants have got their first fruits, even though they are currently still small.

The colour of the foliage of these plants is really spectacular - almost lime-green - and the stems are purple, or at least edged in purple. So, what do you do with the physalis fruits? Eat them raw? Make them into jam?

The "Maskotka" bush tomatoes in the big tub have produced a large number of flowers already. Hopefully most of them will set. If so, I will have a huge harvest!

At least their tub is so vast that it dries out very slowly after watering!


P.S. Since I wrote the above yesterday, we have had several hours of sustained rainfall. Decent, soil-wetting rain, not just drizzle. Part of me says "Oh yuck, what a horrible day", but the gardener in me says "Hooray, thank Goodness for that"... The water-butt will be full again, and the hosepipe can take a rest for a while.


  1. Please send some rain to us. We are going on our 3rd week without rain and the temps in the upper 90's mostly. I water ate least every other day and some things in pots are just getting forgotten :(

  2. Broad beans yum. I love the puree too. Although double peeling them is a bit of a chore.

  3. Hey Mark, this spring sure has been odd. Glad to hear you had some rainfall overnight at got the water bucket filled :) My poor bush beans have just now sprouted as it hasn't been warm enough. I tried to transplant beans sown indoors...rookie mistake!

  4. You could be describing our weather too although we have had some cloudy coldish days. Lucky you getting some rain. Every weather forecast we watch the rain just misses us - I suppose it's what happens when you are in the shelter of the Pennines!

    We grew physalis ages ago and ate the fruit raw - I seem to remember a taste very like a really sweet tomato.

  5. Oh yes, I am very much like you with the rain, pity for the day, great for the plants... but we have had so much more rain than usual, I am kind of ready for a long dry spell...

    So tell me Mark, what do you grow your tomatoes in? It's still not too late in the season for me to plant some more, and I am determined to get it right this year.

  6. Hi Ali; you can read all about how I grow my tomatoes in the post I published on May 5th:-
    Mine are growing very strongly now - I just hope the blight doesn't strike this year.

  7. Glad you got some rain! It's been up and down here, but plenty of rain. been in the 90's the last 2 days, two more to go then down to the 70's and rain for 3 days. Everything is growing like crazy!

    Exellent pics Mark. and the broad bean thoughts sound delicious!

  8. Thanks Mark, I just took a look then. I really like to plant my tomatoes and run - I am happy to put them into good soil, but do I really need to do all the rest?!

    Oh I am lazy :) The terrible ones that I have are all flowering and some are fruiting, so I won't give up on them, but I need to plant more anyhow if I my dream of abundance is going to be fulfilled.

  9. Broadies are delicious when picked yong but don't forget to eat the tips too - They are delicious! We're actually thinking of growing some broad beans purely for their tips and then their green manure value.


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