Sunday, 1 November 2009

accompanying overwintering broad beans with phacelia

Preserving the nutrients and structure of the soil over winter is a priority in the autumn for the organic gardener.

Here, overwintering broad beans V. Aquadulce Claudia show good germination. They will preserve nutrients and soil structure - and give a us a useful bean crop as well.

The beans have been helped by the unusually mild weather we have enjoyed recently. In other years, cold ground has limited germination or vigour of growth in the vital first weeks.

With luck, these will grow on to make strong bushy plants that will give a good crop of beans by May or June.

The bed next to the broad beans has been sown with phacelia. This is a green manure and will prevent soil compaction by the heavy winter rains, will store up nutrients in its leaves and stalks and limit leaching of nutrients.

We would normally plant field beans into next years legume bed. Phacelia, rather than field beans, have been planted next to the broad beans for a simple reason. In spring, the phacelia will have attractive purple flowers which will attract early season pollinating insects. These will then find our flowering broad beans too tempting to pass by.

The result should be excellent pollination and a bumper crop!

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