The great bean mystery
As many of you will be aware, last year was my first ever growing season, and the very first thing I grew was broad beans. These gave me a false sense of security, growing quickly and strongly in what was for me a record time; it had to be a record, because they were the first thing I’d ever grown.
The beans grew, got planted out into a specially prepared bean trench, and they lived happily in the Beanage without a care. Their pods formed, swelled and grew bulbous. I waited until I could wait no more. Then I picked and discovered that every pod was empty. They had swollen and even showed clear bean shapes along their length, but every pod was just like Old Mother Hubbard’s mythical cupboard: bare!
Last year I had a lot of successes, and I also had a lot of failures. I have either understood or at least been able to understand the reasons behind every failure bar one: the great bean mystery. Logical(ish) explanations include poor pollination due to too early a start, an overfeed of nitrogen, and even pixie activity in the Beanage area.
I did plant two lots, one under cover to be planted out (February 14th, funnily enough), and a second lot direct (late March). Both had empty pods. Okay, I might have been a tad to early, and we did have a poor showing from the bees, but no one can affirm the belief that this caused the sans-bean situation.
I also saw the young plants’ leaves turn yellow. I think that was due to overwatering, but my big book of knowledge stated it could be nitrogen deficiency. Now, we all know that beans are great nitrogen fixers, but they also need some to get going. I fed the young plants a nitrogen heavy feed. maybe that killed the development of beans in the pod. I don’t know why it might be the case, but as Is The Wiz suggested it, and she’s normally right, I have to accept it as a possibility!
This year I have changed bean variety, going for Masterpiece Green Longpod. I have already sown some under cover, as pictured. I have noticed that germination has been far slower than with the previous Aquadulce Claudia. I will also be trying a few slightly different things.
The Beanage is to be expanded this year. Last year’s area will be given over entirely to the curcubit experiment. Last year’s multiple disasters with curcubits has strengthened my resolve to understand these plants. The new Beanage (or Beanage 2) will be opposite the old Beanage (or Beanage 1 – you see, I still have a system). The two will then be linked with netting to allow pumpkins and squash to rest high in the air. It might work, it might not!
Beanage 2 will see broad beans, french beans and a new addition, runner beans. More details will be forthcoming when Beanage 2 is built.