Browsing Posts tagged beans

I briefly popped over to The Plots today to pick some more beans.  I’d seen my Dad the other day and taken him a bag full of ‘normal’ runner beans and and another of the ‘red/purple’ French beans that I’m so fond of.Blackberries!

Luckily, getting hold of freshly picked beans at this time of year is not a problem.  Getting rid of them can be, there are so many to pick!

I noticed while there that there are still loads of blackberries that we’ll have to persuade the Plot Kids to pick this Saturday.

Runner Beans. Here you can see some of our beans down on the bottom Demonstration Plot by the driveway.  In just a few minutes, I’d picked more than three pounds of two different varieties, and tonight for dinner it will be ‘Scarlet Emperor’, and you can’t really get much fresher than that!

So tomorrow morning, I’m meeting Diane, David and hopefully Matt to plan out what we’re taking for our ‘Pizza Extravaganza’ over at ‘Sage Greenfingers’ for about 10.00.  When we’ve got all the stuff together, we ‘boys’ are going to cycle over while Diane takes her car and all the ingredients and some more fuel for the oven.

Now, I’ve never ‘fired up’ a pizza oven before, and to be honest Dear Reader, I’m more than a little nervous/excited.  Yes, I guess its something genetic about boys and fire, but more than that, its a whole step up from simply making a cooking fire for me.  I guess it’ll be a good introduction, because Diane is determined that we build one down at LEAF.

I’m maybe a little concerned that apparently they take upwards of three hours to get up to temperature (!!!), so even though we’ll arrive for about 11.00am, it may well be tea time when we can finally eat!

Anyway, not to worry.  There’s no rain forecast, so it’ll be a great day out and a marvelous chance to see old friends and see how their plots are getting on.

I’ll be sure to charge my camera and get some photos to Blog, hopefully tomorrow night.

Speak to you then!


Beans, Bees & Berries. 04/08/11

Last Saturday was definitely a days of ‘B’s!Runner beans in flower.

Here you can see just a fraction of the runner beans we now have coming into flower -and fruit in a lot of cases.  These beauties are by the entrance to the Therapy Plot, and were planted a week or so after the others further back into the plot.

By the next weekend after this -if not before- we’ll be stocking up our freezers and desperately looking for bean recipes on ‘Google’!

Purple French climbing beans in fruit.Here you can see just one of the poles of other beans -this time some purple climbing French beans that are particularly delicious lightly steamed (…to try to preserve the excellent colour…), or even quickly stir-fried in a hot wok.

Of course, this being LEAF and all, we don’t mind at all when we send a volunteer out with a bowl only to have them come back quite some time later with it empty and with a guilty look on their faces!  Its quite funny, really, but there a quite a few volunteers who when they first started with us regarded the word ‘vegetable’ in much the same way as you’d regard the words ‘shop-lifter’ or ‘mugger’, they were so ‘against’ them.  Just a few months later having first planted, then tended and now finally picking (..and eating!..) them, they’ve completely changed their minds.

And on to our bees!Wot, no bees?!

Here you can see our hives as of last Saturday, and as you can see, most of them have gone!

Jez, our ‘Chief’ bee-keeper had been the other day to move some ‘supers’ (…those are the multi-story’ boxes on the bottom brood boxes…) over to these two ‘nucs’ (…Pronounced ‘Nukes’…), and he’s taken the rest of the nucs away with him.

“Where have they gone??!!” You excitedly shout (…well, we did…).

They’ve gone on holiday!

I kid you not!

Because its the heather-flowering season, Jez and quite a few of the other Sheffield bee-keepers have taken some of their hives onto the moors surrounding Sheffield to let the bees collect the pollen from the heather.  ‘Heather Honey’ as its known is highly sought after and much more expensive than ‘normal’ honey.

So, while the rest of the colonies are away, the ones left are busy pollinating all our many flowers.  Wonder if they’ll get postcards? “Heather is nice.  Wish you were here!”


And so finally onto the ‘Berries’.  Blackberries, to be more specific.Blackberries, anyone?

Millions and millions and millions of them.

Hopefully this Saturday we can persuade some of the Plot Kids that it would be a really, really good game if they each took a massive punnet out to them and we can have a competition to see just who gets the most.

Then, I’ll have to get some muslin to strain the pips out, then this year, I shall make Blackberry Jam!  I threaten to last year, but this year, what with having a new kitchen and cooker and plenty of jars for it, I really must give this a go.

But I must use a muslin strainer.  I remember eating blackberry jam last year with scones and whipped/clotted cream, but had to spend hours later with a tooth-pick getting all the ‘pips’ out of my teeth.  It really took the pleasure out of this excellent fruit.

Well, not this year!

…Anyway, my coach has truly turned into a pumpkin, so I’d better leave it for there, Dear Reader.


Where do I start? 25/06/11

This is going to be fairly short tonight as its already past my bedtime, and tomorrow Diane and I have to put in about 10 hours of work on the LEAF finances.  You can possibly guess just how much I’m looking forward to that!

So, I had intended today to be yet another day of ‘Zen’ weeding, but Diane had other ideas, and spot on they were.

Today would be a day of planting! (… to a chorus of cheers from the cheap seats…)Planting dwarf french beans.

Early on, Barry, David, Simon and I planted more peas and some mange tout down on the bottom plot then several lines of dwarf french beans of different colours similar to last year -greens, yellows and deep reds up on the ‘Therapy Plot’.  Here we all are counting the out and getting them placed before earthing them over then covering them with a layer of compost.  I took quite a few photos of this, but unfortunately, the beans are really difficult to see as they’re laid out in the trenches.  You’ll just have to use your imagination.Lavender on the bottom plot.

To the left here we have some of the many lavender we have all over the site, but these are down on the bottom plot, and their fragrance is incredible.

After we’d planted all the beans, peas and mange tout and had pasta and home-grown salad for lunch, it was time to plant-out some of the final runner beans.Bean poles before planting.

To the right here are the basic canes we’d put up, but we added another few verticals to enable us to plant more out.

You may remember that last year we have chrysanthemums here just past the greenhouse which is out of shot to the left.

We’ve moved the stepping stones and placed a very convenient path right through this bed to allow us easy access to the children’s plot and the fire.  Previously we had to walk right round the greenhouse.  Not easy if you’re carrying a large, heavy and hot pan!Runner beans in and watered.

Here you can see them planted and watered in, and as I’ve mentioned before, give these a few weeks and they’ll be reaching for the sky!

As I was passing the runner beans down on the bottom ‘Demonstration’ plot, I couldn’t help but notice these beans just coming into flower.Beans in flower.

Now, I think these are ‘Painted Ladys’ but I’ll have to check with Diane to make sure.

So, this week just a few flowers showing, but shortly, we’ll be overrun with them.  Bring it on!

Also, after all that hard work Ian and I put in a short while ago on The Mound, Diane had asked us to leave two plants in there, and here is one of them:-Flowering poppy.

A single, beautiful poppy.

It’ll be ‘over’ in just a few days, so we plan to plant loads of squashes again up here, but this year we’re going to give the soil a good ‘prepping up’ with hopefully loads of well-rotted manure and a good layer of compost.  The squashes we had in there last year were really not up to standard, but this year there should be no excuses!  Plenty of ‘food’ for the soil and we’ll have them in nice and early so there’ll be plenty of time for them to grow before the first frosts come and kill them all off.

And talking of squashes…Planting squashes.

By late this afternoon, more and more people had showed up, and here are just some of them happily planting out some of the first squashes in the Therapy Plot on a bed that had been expertly prepared by Diane then Dave by getting all the weed out, then covering it with a layer of manure.  Today, Dave put three barrow-loads of compost over the top, then Diane laid out all the different types of squash to be planted, and here you can see us as we planted them out.  There are a mixture here of trailing pumpkins and courgettes which Barry can’t wait to be ready because he has Big Plans for them, the fire and a wok.

Yum!Squashes planted.

And here you can see them planted up, and if you’re really eagle-eyed you’ll notice that we’ve planted lettuces in between them.  The lettuce will be ready long before the squashes get too big to squash (…sorry!..) them, and we have loads to go out anyway.

By now it was after 4.00pm, and Barry very kindly lit a fire and roasted load of potatoes over it, so to finish off the day we all enjoyed them with salad freshly picked from our Plots.  Jon also brought up from his plot a couple of truly excellent raspberry tarts, and we all said how good they were.Jon's raspberry tarts.

Anyway, all this talk of squashes and pumpkins has reminded me that its very nearly my ‘pumpkin time’ where my coach turns into something large, round and orange.

I’d better hit the sack and I’ll hopefully write more very soon…



As I said at the end of the last post, we didn’t get a Big Lot done yesterday.  Way too hot, but I’m not complaining.  Here in Britain we get so little sunshine, so any we do get should be treasured and enjoyed.  Slap on the Factor 20 and off you go.  …But slowly!

Today was much cooler with far less direct sunshine, so Ian and myself got loads (…comparatively…) done.Weeds!

Here you can see another bed down on the bottom plot before we weeded, and again, you’ll see this was no ‘Micro-Weeding’ exercise.  Big, fat baddies with long roots, but as I mentioned before, the ground was so dry, they came out with very little ‘fight’.  Very rewarding!

After we’d done this, we moved a load of soil I’d left on a nearby bed yesterday when we put the celery in (…more on this tomorrow, hopefully…), so we used that to earth up the three potato beds we have down there.Bean bed prepped up.

After a cup of tea, we moved on to plant up two more bean poles, also on that plot.

Diane ‘made the soil ready’ by getting out any remaining bindweed and ‘grot’ that’d grown since Ian and I did that major work on it a couple of months ago, then Ian and I put on about two thirds of a bag of well rotted manure then a covering of compost.

The photo above is just before we put the bean poles up in two groups of five to a teepee.Planted and watered.

And to the right are the finished poles with the beans already planted and watered in.

“Hang on,” You shout.  “The beans are already growing up the poles!!!

No, they’re not really, really quick-growing beans and neither is it a picture of beans already planted some while ago.  Honest!

These particular beans were getting very ‘leggy’ in the greenhouse, already ‘making for the sky’, and when we took them out of their trays, their roots were well matted around and around the bottom of each compartment.

When plants are like this, really needing to be planted out, we find that before you put them in the ground, if you ‘tease’ out the roots a little to ‘tell them’ that they’re free to grow they take much better and quicker.The rose bed just coming into bloom. The reason they appear to have grown up the poles is that the shoots were so long and twisty, it was a simple matter to uncoil them (…from each other!..) and re-coil them round the poles, and I swear I could hear each one sigh as I did this.  Really!

And onto the flowers.

Here you can see our well-overgrown rose bed in the centre of our top plot, and as you can see, they are just coming into bloom with the ‘just past it’ poppies in front.  Its a real shame about these poppies;  they look so beautiful, but seemingly within hours of blooming, they’re past it and falling all over the place.Sweet Williams not coming out.

And to the right here are some of our sweet williams that we put in last year, just coming into flower.

And once again, you can really see that my camera is awful with anything approaching a red colour.  In ‘real life’, these things are just so red they nearly take the back of your eyes out!Herb Robert.

To the left here are some of the many herb roberts we have scattered about the site.

Again, you’ll be unimpressed with my photography and the cheapness of my camera!

Today, quite a few of our ‘regulars’ were otherwise busy, but nonetheless we got quite a lot done -Tim and Tina potting-on, the return of ‘Old David’, David (…formerly ‘New David’…) and new volunteer Simon who were busy prepping and painting -and having great fun in the process!  Diane, well, Diane was seemingly everywhere all at the same time! Answering the barrages of questions from volunteers, answering her phone, making tea, making lunch, prepping beds, greeting visitors, chatting with fellow plot-holders, maybe a bit of digging when she got bored…

…Anyway, tomorrow, I have other, far less enjoyable stuff to do so unfortunately, I won’t be down The Plots.

Monday, well that’s another matter.  I know there are a couple of important meetings to attend, but other than that, well, I guess its more of the same.

See you then?


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