Better beans?

2020 has been a dismal year for beans – at least for me. The molluscs made a meal of the broad beans over winter and it continued from there.

Every time I saw a broad bean shoot, it was too late. As I rushed out to put sheep’s fleece round it, it was already a stump from which there was no return. So, I sowed again in the vain hope that something would come of these later sowings.

Then in the late spring/early summer the slugs and snails seemed impervious to the straw mixed with the horse manure, which I had placed over the bean seeds in an attempt at no-dig. Well, I exaggerate slightly, as I did get some beans but I think the rains also came at the wrong time. As if this wasn’t enough, the snails also climbed the bean poles and munched on the meagre crop as it was forming.

The nasturtiums haven’t been bothered by the slugs and snails and I hope they will give me food for a few weeks yet as well as providing joy with their flowers.

So, perhaps I am being a fool by trying the no-dig trick again this winter. I’ve sown broad beans and dumped a bag of manure on top of them, followed by a net cloche to keep the birds off any shoots which may appear.

However, the garlic in the lasagne bed by the back door has started to sprout, so the manure isn’t proving to be an inhibiting factor – at least in this case. Of course, garlic is less prone to attack than beans but who knows. The latter are old now, so I don’t feel there is much to lose by feeding the soil and possibly getting a crop of some sort.

About Helen

I have always been interesting in living a more environmentally friendly lifestyle and used to do what I could. Now, I have come to realise that we have reached such a point in terms of environmental degradation that it is more important - perhaps - to focus on building resilience. I therefore do as much as I can to reuse, grow my own and encourage a supportive community, for example. I also keep reading and learning all the time.
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16 Responses to Better beans?

  1. Carole says:

    I have also resorted to eating nasturtium leaves in the absence of much else! Might as well get them before the frost does 🙂

  2. Not just our runners, then

  3. I grow field beans rather than runners and they didn’t do at all well. However the climbing French ones did OK. You have reminded me to put some garlic in – if it ever stops raining!

  4. Mine have not been as good as usual this year either – a weather thing I think. Too dry in the spring, which is a shame as we all benefited from a dry spring otherwise. My overwintered broad beans were a disaster – mice maybe – so I’ve sown them earlier this year in the hope that they can get a start before the mice get them.

    • Helen says:

      I watched an interesting talk by The Woodland Trust today about dormice. They hibernate, so I was wondering if other mice do likewise? Either way, good luck with the broad beans this winter.

  5. gaiainaction says:

    Hi Helen. Sorry to hear about your beans and the way slugs ate their way through them. Here it was the same, plus the weather also played havoc with the young plants. I swore that I would not grow broad beans again as every year something goes wrong with them. The best ever harvest of beans I had was of runner beans.

  6. Clare Pooley says:

    We weren’t fortunate with our beans either. The French beans went first despite us putting barriers around the bed. The moorhens forced their way through a tiny gap in the chicken-wire-stapled-to-wooden-frame barriers we have and ripped all the leaves off the stems and ate all the beans, flowers and shoots leaving stumps. We did a little better with our runner beans though the moorhens took off the lower leaves and beans before we were able to put more chicken wire round them. We had a few meals from them but there was so little rain and we couldn’t seem to be able to give them as much water as they needed. The beans became so tough and stringy we couldn’t eat them; we have frozen a few and put them in stews and casseroles. A tale of woe!

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