Friday, 28 March 2014

The value of spares

Whenever I sow seeds I always sow a few more than I think I'll need, because you never know when a casualty may be incurred. Take this row of healthy-looking Broad Beans, for instance. They look OK, don't they?

Now take a closer look:

One of those bean plants is so much smaller than its siblings that there must be something wrong with it. There was. I dug it up, and it had hardly any root at all - something had evidently nibbled it away.

Both beans sown the same day

Not a problem though, because I had a spare!

So out came the "runt", to be replaced with the healthier one in the pot. I forgot to take an "After" photo. Not like me, is it?

As well as the spare plant pictured, I have sowed a couple of extra bean seeds at the ends of each of my two rows on Broad Beans - just in case... When you only sow a small quantity of something, every plant is precious.

By the way, did you notice the row of Radishes next to the beans? This is what you call a "catch-crop" - a fast-maturing crop that will grow alongside the main crop, but will mature much earlier, before the main crop crowds it out and blocks its light. Radishes can be ready in about a month from sowing (less in ideal conditions), so they are perfect for this purpose. I have three 2.4 metre rows of Radishes on the go at present, sown at different times to provide a succcessional harvest, and I may try to squeeze a few more in somewhere else later on. 

Just a note on my use of cloches:- they are providing good shelter from the wind (and from the severe frost we had earlier in the week), but I am conscious that they also "protect" the plants under them from the rain, so I am careful to remove them temporarily every now and then and give the plants a drink. I also noticed today how much green algae has built up on them - I really must give them a wash, because they will not be letting through enough light. This can normally be achieved swiftly with a hosepipe and a soft broom.


  1. I think spares are a must when you've got a smallish plot, every bit of ground is precious growing space and you don't want to waste any bit of it.

  2. It also shows what a boon cloches are. I have not yet planted any seeds or plants directly into my cold, wet ground.

  3. I love the orderly lines. I often grow more than I need too. But then I hate having the extras around as they outgrow their spots. But I do keep them for a couple of weeks as the first part of their lives is the hardest.

  4. You have to feel sorry for the little runt - especially when you are only small yourself.

  5. I always have the problem - when I sow, for example, tomato or pepper seeds, I always sow 1 or 2 more in case some won't germinate. Sometimes they germinate all and I'm not able to throw this additional seedling away, although I know I don't have enough room to plant more :) I do this year by

  6. You are so organized. I haven't even gotten down to my garden to clean it out....BUT the kid's garden at the Club is really getting going now :)

  7. You are so organised and meticulous Mark.
    Understandable to pull the runt out, but sad nevertheless because I've always thought of myself as the runt of our family, having both a sister and a brother ahead of me in both arrival time and height! (But I'm small but perfectly formed ha!)
    I wonder if I will be able to be so ruthless once my veggies are underway ;D


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