Friday, July 14, 2017

July Planting of the 3rd (NW) Bed

The 3rd bed, (the bed formerly known as the NW bed), has become a miniature allotment in its own right this year, as I'm so invested in the resurrection of the 5th bed, and don't have time to cultivate the whole plot. There was a heap of oomska, now greatly diminished by usage. The garlic there has now been harvested. The tattie patch is thriving, in the southern third of the bed, and will continue to do so for another month or two, being planted in mid May.

This afternoon, apart from working some more on the 5th bed, (which shows progress, albeit very slow), I'm going to hoe the other two thirds of the 3rd bed, incorporating what's left of last winter's oomska, and sow neeps, French beans, and carrots.

I should mention (for my own future reference) that this was, theoretically last year's brassica bed, but that actually only involved 2 rows of neeps at the far N end, and so of course I won't be sowing this year's in that part of the bed. And I'm giving this entire bed a rest next year, with phacelia or maybe buckwheat.

The French beans are dwarf 'filet' type var. 'Cupidon' from realseeds.co.uk.  I've had a bit of research to do to get clear the nomenclature of beans. What supermarkets call 'green beans' are actually any immature beans, which you eat without shucking, the mangetout of the bean world. 'Filet' I have learned carries the meaning of 'string' as well as 'fillet', so these really are 'string beans'. Too late for climbing beans, now, but great for these wee (2ft) dwarfs, and all being well I should be harvesting them up until the frost arrives.

I got the idea to plant them this late from Alys Fowler. I've lent my Charles Dowding book to someone, so can't check it just now, but I seem to recall he suggested it's often better to plant in midsummer, the planting instructions on most commercial seed packets being more closely related to the seed merchant's retail cycle than the reality of growing a plant from seed to edibility.

The carrots are also from realseeds.co.uk, 'D'Eysines', a form of 'half long Nantes', apparently, which are a 19th Century French variety, according to the Carrot Museum. And Eysines is a small town in Gironde, not far from where we once stayed, in Andernos les Bains.

Last but, in our house anyways, not least are the 'Champion Red Top' neeps, which want picking young, so hopefully I'm not too late with them, fingers crossed for a mild early winter. I hope they're better than 'Joan' grown last year, of which the general opinion was 'not bad', that is, indistinguishable in flavour from supermarket neeps.

What's wanted is a variety we all really like to grow on for seed. I could fill a whole bed with neeps, even the indifferent 'Joan', as the family's favourite brassica. Cabbage, for example, is usually eaten with a sense of duty and notion of it being one the five-a-day. Whereas neeps always get eaten with genuine enjoyment.