Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Winter Field Beans in June

That's the end of the 5th bed, which of course adjoins the 4th bed, which I planted out with winter field beans last autumn. The plan then was to hoe them down in spring, and either compost or leave the foliage as mulch. But I decided to leave them be when it became clear that riddling out the 5th bed was going to take up most of this growing season.

The other thing about them is that the beans are quite bulky and heavy, as seed, so not cheap to buy online in quantity. My plan for this autumn is to sow them throughout the plot (except for the 4th bed, where they are now, of course). 

The plants are now pushing up to 6ft high, and are growing closely together - 2-3 ins apart. They had a lot of chocolate spot in early spring, but that's confined to the lower foliage, the upper is untouched by it. It's a jungle, 12x24ft (approx), and there's no doubt a lot of invertebrate life going on there, with quite a frog presence too. I can say that bumblebees love the flowers, (Bombus hortorum, provisional ID - I should add that the nearby comfrey flowers appear more attractive to B. pascorum).

The nitrogen the plant have been collecting and storing will be deployed when the beans start to grow, so they are less useful from the N point of view than if they'd been cut down in the early spring. But they won't be taking any N out of the ground, and just look at all that biomass! I need always to be thinking about getting masses of organic material to compost for no-dig.

I just learned that winter field beans and broad beans are one and the same thing. I'll report back on how they taste...