Tag Archives: beans

Hens aren’t always good mothers, and planting beans

Long day today, but a very nice one. There has been some drama around the chickens that I haven’t yet written about. Two of the broody hens were given eggs to hatch, and on Friday the chicken eggs started hatching. Not the duck eggs the second broody hen was sitting on — the ducks here are terrible mothers apparently, not surprising given the traumatic scenes preceding the laying of eggs. Though apparently it has more to do with the domesticated nature of the breed. Though it doesn’t look too likely that they have succeeded with the duck eggs either.

The hen started with 12 I think, broke three, and only 2 of the remaining 9 hatched. On Monday afternoon we thought that both chicks had been smothered or predated because they were not in the secure house with the mother. But a few hours later we found one chick with the mum who had incubated them, and another with another of the broody hens. So this morning, we had to set up two (rather than one) secure little houses with runs to allow mums and babies a little privacy and extra safety from jays and foxes.

The calm and competent new mum who rescued one of the chicks:

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I couldn’t even get a good picture of the nervous not-so-good-but-trying mum, but her chick is very cute as well and heads this post.

Then it was back to weeding and beans. We planted two more circles of french beans in the broad bean bed. These are white flowering heirloom beans — Cherokee ‘Trail of tears’ and Sarah’s Old-fashioned black beans. I am pretty sad I won’t be harvesting and cooking up these beauties to try them out.

The afternoon was spent digging a new bed for some scarlet runner beans. Two months ago they covered these two beds with plastic as they had been overrun with couch grass and nettles.

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We peeled back the plastic enough to plant a new row of beans crowding their seed trays. These are usually just planted into the ground, but the weather has been so strange and changeable the past few years given climate change and all, Rob planted a bunch in trays — and May’s snow and hail I discussed in earlier posts proved he was wise.

The couch grass had died back enough we didn’t need the azada, just a rake to peel it off the top. The nettles though, were well entrenched and required spade work.

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We put a line down with this brilliant victorian contraption that I forgot to get a picture of but I will, and then dug out a trench a spade wide and deep

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A sprinkle of seaweed calcium balls, some cut up comfrey plants, a layer of rotted horse manure, the old soil raked back over and we were ready to plant. We put in sticks using the trowel as a spacer

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In the bean plugs went, mostly scarlet emperor, one per stick.

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We planted out the seedlings most in need. Alongside them we also sowed one heirloom borlotti bean which will prolong the crop yielded by this bed as they will be ready for harvest weeks later. When we ran out of seedlings we continued sowing seed directly into the ground, two for each pole rather than one.

I learned that beans climb round the poles counterclockwise in the Northern hemisphere, so that is how you should wind and tie them. That is quite cool.

I also learned how to make dumplings — a heaped tablespoon of self-raising flour per person, half that amount of suet, parsely is quite nice though not necessary, salt and pepper, water until it looks like dough, and then just drop them on top of your covered stew for ten minutes.

Yum. Imagine that, with scones and clotted cream and fresh strawberries for desert. A good day.

Bean wigwams, Bude, seaside and a dogfish

It was hot today, hot and sunny and somehow I am twice as tired as usual — possibly also because we got to leave off a little bit early and go to Bude and I walked barefoot in the ocean. Sea breeze, hard work, sun.

I got a sun burn! Amazing. Less than a month ago I was working in hail and snow.

Today started off picking strawberries in the polytunnel, which was already so so hot. I love strawberries but picking them, so so many of them, is such hard work.

A toast to all those who have ever picked or continue to pick strawberries at any kind of scale around the world.

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But look at these beauties. Unlike supermarket strawberries, they taste every bit as lovely as they look.

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I was at market on Friday — look what happened while I was there:

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Alex did this truly amazing mulch job as his last task. I’ve been a bit selfish only showing you my own work, but these were things of beauty. Under all this grass piled high from the scythe work is a sprinkle of lime and some lovely fairly well-rotted horse manure, and this hopefully will be the fruit trees happy the whole of the summer.

After strawberries was weeding (to a few more episodes of Welcome to Night Vale, I love it more with each one) and creating space for some beans in a not-entirely-successful bed of broad beans killed back a bit during the weird cold weather earlier this year and also populated by a handful of volunteer potatoes. We dug circular pits the depth of the spade, cut up some comfrey to lie in the bottom (comfrey is amazing), covered it with more horse manure then raked the soil back.

The wigwams are built of old willow coppiced from the back of the orchard. The sticks are left to dry — they have to cure a while before you can use them as poles, or they will simply root themselves again. These are about a year old, and have another year of life to them really.

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With them we built cages, setting the poles about a foot apart and tying them at the top with a bit of string. Then we planted out the beans, one at the foot of each pole. These have been dying to be replanted, and I love these starter packs that open up like books when you pull them from the trays. It makes all of this so much easier.

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I quite love the effect — nice to look at, practical, and of course, free.

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Then we dropped all of the tools and hightailed it to Bude — a seaside town rather full of families on this Bank holiday Monday. You will notice I never take pictures of beaches covered with children and sunbathers, I spend my time at beaches pretending no one else is there. They are more beautiful that way, and god are Cornish beaches beautiful.

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These consisted of great fingers stretching into the water, I loved them. Yet these are the same rocks so devastating to any boat washed up on these shores.

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This lovely view opens up as you walk along the beach away from the clusters of families.

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Some of the coolest stuff, though, is at another scale.

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A dog fish washed up on shore, of razor sharp teeth and skin like sandpaper.

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And fascinating things lining the rocks.

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There is a canal that ends here as well, right at the seaside. I have cropped an atmospheric scene of stone and old wood and a view of the lock and kept it free of holiday goers for you.

You’re welcome.

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Old iron tracks line the track up the hill from the beach, built for the carts that once carried seashell/calcium-rich sand up to be distributed to farms for improving the soil. This early canal once ran to Holsworthy, the idea was to create an alternative East-West passage for goods to the dangerous sea route around Lands End. It never really worked, though they did make canal boats with wheels and attached to counter-weighted chains, which allowed them to navigate the steeper bits without the slow process of locks.

Canal boats with wheels! Pretty awesome. I am glad Rob is a fount of knowledge.

Another beautiful day, I can’t help but feel I am leaving too soon.

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