Sunday, 5 April 2009

peas and beans in organic rotation

The pea and bean family (Legumes) are vital in organic gardening. Their roots add necessary nitrogen to the soil. Organic gardening makes no use of fertilisers that are not natural. The nitrogen boost given by legumes will be used by the cabbage family (brassicas) when these are planted in this bed next year.

Green manure are plants that hold the soil together during the winter, stopping nutrients from draining away in the hard winter rains, and adding their own fertlity to the garden as well.

On the legume bed of our four bed organic rotation, the green manure field beans (Punch) are looking robust and vigorous. Farmers would drive their cattle across their bean fields to break the plant stalks and so encourage bushy growth. I gave the field beans a trim with my shears to create the same effect. I hoed off two beds of field beans ready for sowing with peas. The tops of the field beans added welcome bulk to the compost bins.

In contrast with the field beans, our broad beans (Aguadulce) have had a poor start. The plants are small and weak and a pale green colour. I hoed around the bed and then applied pelleted chicken manure before giving several watering cans of water. I hope this picks them up - they are a long way behind.

We have brought on early peas (Feltham First) and Marrowfat peas (Marro) inthe greenhouse and planted these out under fleece cloche protection today. The protection they need is against frost - against the pest of pigeons.

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