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Goodbye to peas and broad beans

Posted by Guy Barter on 17 Jul 2007 at 01:03 PM

Finally, my peas and broad beans are nearly at an end. Their eagerly anticipated season is too brief and reminds me that the mid-point of summer has arrived. More than ever I must plan, sow and plant for winter and spring. 

Pea and bean remains were pulled, raked up and carried by the vast forkful to the compost pits.  These now have a stack of material 1.5 high over the pit.  When their height returns to soil level the compost will be ready to dig out and spread - sometime in February probably.  Home compost making never ruins as sweetly or quickly as composting on television! 

I don't get too worked up over removing nitrogen-rich legume roots from the soil when pulling spent crops.  Old roots are a nuisance when sowing and hoeing. Most nitrogen fixed by legumes is in the foliage and pods and the benefit of this will have to wait to be recycled through the compost.  There should be enough background fertility to get crops off to a good start until top-dressing is possible.  Broadcasting fertiliser in summer promotes huge weed growth. 

Some plotholders, in despair at the weed growth due to the wet weather, are digging their cleared ground to bury trash and weeds. I have decided to scratch up the ground with a rake and gather weeds and crop debris in this way without bringing fresh weed seeds to the surface.  There is little compaction as I have kept to paths for picking peas and beans and the next crop is sown or planted in exactly the same place as the cleared crops. 

A few remnants of peas and broad beans are still growing from June sowings, and even July sowings in the case of peas; sowings made more in hope than expectation.  However, due to the cool weather and heavy rains, sugarsnap pea ‘Cascadia' is already yielding a modest crop.  The deer are appreciative if I fail to net peas thoroughly. 

The newly cleared ground is sown as fast as possible. French beans are my crop of choice, but wet weather and pesky birds are causing huge problems.  I have raised numerous transplants to fill in the many gaps and spread nets and fleece, supported on stakes to try and save my young plants. 

I am still sowing seeds outdoors; turnips, salads, sugar loaf chicory and beetroot were sown this weekend into the 'turn-around' areas.  However, from now on the many young cell-tray raised plants that I have coming on; calabrese, Chinese cabbage, courgettes, beetroot, Florence fennel, kohl rabi and salads will have to be used to populate ground that comes free. 

Courgettes and French beans are now the main harvests.  When these give out it will be too late to replace them with more crops for this year, but I am already making plans already to sow, in a couple of weeks, for next spring.


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