Overwintered runner beans
We planted the beans just before a rather windy cold spell. The overwintered plants, which were a bit soft after a winter at rest, seemed to suffer more than the new plants, though neither of them looked particularly good. As the season drew on the old plants came back to look every bit as good as the new ones.
In terms of yield it’s difficult to say because the group tends to mix the beans and even if we can prevent that we can’t tell what has been harvested unofficially, which has happened several times. You can tell that when you leave with beans on the plants and return next day to empty plants.
Judging by eye I’d say that yield was similar in size and total weight and the only difference between the three-year-old plant and the new one was that we saved pennies on seed and didn’t donate any nitrogen back to the soil when we took the roots out.
The half-manured bed
There was a definite difference in number of fat hen plants and their size – loads more plants and they were round about twice the size on the half that had been fed.
We had several losses due to wind/cold (see above) and couldn’t count the crop properly (also see above).The plant that appeared to do best was on the mid-line between the two treatments, and that was probably because its neighbours had died and left it with more room and light.
The Accidental Permaculture Bed
This was the same bed as the half-manured bed, but when the fat hen started growing and a crop of self-seeded rocket showed itself we decided to see what happened.
What happened was that the fat hen grew so well that it began to interfere with the beans. This was more noticeable at the manured end, where the plants were thicker and taller.
I cropped it severely once it was established, taking several crops of salad leaves and making two lots of soup. I actually put some in the freezer, which was fortunate, because one weekend someone (I assume someone from the Allotment Group) ripped all the “weeds” out and left me with nothing for a group the following week. We had the frozen fat hen and it tasted just as good.
Fat Hen from the freezer – not something you find in Tesco!
That was demo salads for about fifty, six or eight lunchtime salads for me and soup for around forty – not bad for a weed that grew by accident.
The rocket is still cropping though it’s getting a bit strong now and the beans are also continuing to produce.
We grew the beans on a frame that crossed lower down than normal, producing an “X” shape and allowing the beans to dangle in the open for picking. It worked reasonably well, although it would have been better if I’d managed to cross the canes lower down. Note to self – next year step back and look after getting the first few canes up.
So there’s three that didn’t quite work out for various reasons, though we did learn a few things. Due to the advent of the Allotment Group we have lost a lot of land and may well lose the raised beds too so my experiments and learning might focus on different subjects next year as I retreat to the polytunnel.