After wondering if the wind had blown away the greenhouses yesterday, today was rather nice. Cold but bright and tomorrow will probably be wet and miserable so off to the plot this afternoon.
I’d got two rows of climbing borlotti beans, one row of climbing French beans and one row of runner beans. Yes, we like beans. They’re a high protein food for starters, not quite the protein content of beef steak, but near and they’re low in fat and high in fibre. That’s the health food pitch, finished. The truth is we like them. They’re versatile and work well in stews with meat, adding bulk as well as soups and bean dishes.
But I digress, it was time to say goodbye to the beans. I wouldn’t have been surprised to find them blown down but they were still standing proud. I knew there were still a few borlotti on the vine so to speak, so I thought I’d pick them first. Well, I suppose it all depends on how you define a few. I expected maybe enough for a couple of meals, but there were loads. I literally filled two carrier bags with them. They’re not dry enough to store as dried beans but they don’t take much space in the freezer.
Having stripped the beans it was time to get the frames down. Rather than uproot the bean plants, I snipped the stem just above ground level, leaving the roots in the ground. The reason for this is that legumes (the fancy name for the bean family) actually take nitrogen from the air and make it available to the plant by means of symbiotic bacteria that live in nodules in the roots. So leaving the roots provides a source of nitrogen for the next crop as they break down
Since the unruly plants don’t just neatly climb up one cane as they’re supposed to but cross back and forth, I had to snip them apart with the secateurs so I could get the canes out of the ground. This is where I managed my silly. Now I’m known on the site for being plugged into my radio with the headphones on my ears. Sometimes I have my MP3 player running with the classics, Cream, Hendrix and Led Zeppelin but usually it’s good old Radio 4. Well as I snipped away there was a sudden silence. Straight though the cable. I knew what had happened immediately, because it’s the second time I’ve done that on the allotment. Maybe one day I’ll learn.
The canes went into the large greenhouse to keep them from the weather over winter. There were a couple that snapped off but that’s how you get 7′ canes – the broken 8′ ones.
Tomorrow we will be podding for Britain and Val will be keeping her eye out for headphones for me. Usually we spend a whole pound on them, but with this recession we might just find a real bargain.