Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Runner beans and a small flood

Runner beans and a small flood

Last year the runner beans were a disaster. Slugs ate all but 1 or 2 before they could start climbing. I'm determined that this year will be different and so started sowing at the beginning of April inside the greenhouse. Over the last 4 or so days they have been left outside in the cold frame with the lid off for the last 2 and there has been 2 ground frosts, neither of which have been bad.

The last few years our last frosts have been in the first week of May and I've always had runner beans out and have never had any problems with the cold but with this years crop starting earlier I have sown direct into the ground 1 seed at each pole plus now planted half the poles with young plants. I have also sown a load more in the green house.

All poles have a bean sown direct and 20 poles also have young plants.
Although we have had 2 frosts recently neither days / nights saw the air temperature drop below 1.5 deg C so I'm guessing the ground temp barely dropped to freezing but I have attempted to build some protection for them made from corrugated  clear plastic. It'll keep the wind off of them and may perhaps just hold that little bit of warmth in for an extra hour or so. 

Being earlier in the year by a few weeks there are less slugs around at the moment so I'm hopeful these beans may just get climbing before the slugs become a problem.

Luckily we have been given a load of pots so if all else fails then I can pot up a load of beans and get them a foot tall or so before planting out. I have loads of seeds this year to throw at the problem and still plenty of time in which to sow them. Fingers crossed.

Mini Flood
Despite digging drainage, channelling water into 2 ponds, having loads of grass to expire water, hundreds of plants, dozens of young Willow trees and a couple of dozen fruit trees, about 60 hedging trees and having raised the ground in a few areas we still have a boggy little field. I knew we had a small issue with water where we placed the Poly-tunnel but this last week saw a lot of rain and the Poly-tunnel had a inch of water on the floor. The trellis bed next to it also was totally full of water and my young wild flowers that have only just germinated were in danger of drowning if I didn't do something.

When we get around to building an extension we'll need a soak away so I've taken the opportunity to site this and started digging. So far I've only just removed the top 4 inches of turf, plus dug a little soil (clay) out but it was enough to drain the bed and most of the Poly-tunnel.

 A small channel from the trellis bed filled the hole as I dug away the turf. It had drained a bit by the time the photo was taken but it did lower the water in the bed and tunnel so that the roots of the seedlings aren't constantly in water.

This hole is still full of water several days later and will take the week to drain. I have to hope that when dug much deeper I find less clay and hopefully chalk otherwise it won't be a soak away but more a sump.

Many other veg beds around the garden still have the water sitting just a few inches below the surface. Most main beds are raised so this isn't an issue but every fruit tree is in effect planted in a bucket made of clay and therefore is sitting in water. As long as we don't have too much heavy rain in the next few weeks it'll be fine.

The turfs will be put to good use in the chicken pen, given them grass in the bare parts but also raising the ground to avoid their flooding problem.

Update - the day after
Plan A with the runner beans may not have lasted very long. Hard frost last night with air temps down to -1.5 so ground temp would have been lower. Will be interesting to see if they survive.


  1. I'm a bit worried about the low night temperatures too. In an average year we get less than 1 day of frost in May, but if this continues it's going to delay planting things out. I'm going to have a conservatory full of tomatoes and courgettes...

  2. The last 2 years our last frost was 1st and 3rd of May, and in both cases it was light and the runner beans were ok. I have 12 courgette plants that are only a week away from needing to be outdoors.

    I will be sowing more so I can risk putting them out and then have reserves if they fail. I'll hold one or 2 back and put them in large pots but the chance to get an earlier harvest out ways the problems for me.

    It looks like it'll be cold for another week and after that probably ok.

  3. Starting tomorrow the forecast is still for a sharp rise is nighttime temperatures. I hope, as you say, it's permanent so I can start the great plant shuffle.

    It's rained a lot here the last few days. Is your field still sodden?

    1. The field isn't too damp now. Most of my courgettes are now out as of today. Tonight may be chilli but I can't see it being a hard frost so I think I'm safe.

      The runner beans failed. Had I waited one more day they would have been fine and I would have had almost a months head start.