Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Cameras, companions and competitions

Camera problems, rather than weather, work, family or the multitude of other excuses we usually utilise to explain our lack of progress has been the reason for the lack of recent news. Fortunately, while camera problems stop the work being reported, the work itself can continue apace.

The pea and bean bed, where digging was completed last month, has received a few bagfuls of compost from the old compost heap, is largely complete and mostly planted with peas and beans (we realise that our naming is not hugely imaginative when it comes to the beds, but it does help us remember what’s going on!). We have a bit of room left for a row of late peas, a couple of rows of runner beans and, if space and germinating seeds permit, a row of French beans at the (far) end.

At each end of the bed we’ve also added an extra, small raised bed (the technical term for the shape is apparently trapezoidal – which not only looks good, but will give a bit of extra room for manoeuvring the wheelbarrow). We had these at one end of the plots in the previous garden. The idea of these was, initially, to end off the veg beds in an aesthetically-pleasing manner, and sow some nice flowers to brighten up the plot. Here, we’re more thinking of using these beds for companion planting (although most of these “companion” plants will be flowers to attract beneficial insects). One of these beds (the one at the far end) has been sown with nasturtiums – reputedly good for distracting slugs as well as providing some very attractive and tasty (peppery) flowers for salads and the seeds can be pickled as capers, or are easily saved for sowing again next year. The near bed (next the beans) has been sown with a mixtures of Summer Savoury (very few seeds left, so don’t know if it will germinate; said to deter bean beetle amongst other things), Calendula Marigolds (again, old seed, but good for hoverflies) and Hyssop (a herb with blue flowers that attracts bees).

Incidentally, the bright green plastic thingies in the bed are beer traps for slugs. Although planting out big plants reduces the effects of slugs on the beans and peas, the traps still get rid of a few of these unwelcome guests, although we also do after-dark slug hunts (which are probably the most effective control method of all).

The experiment to see which sowing vessels (window boxes, peat pots or toilet-roll tubes) are the best for the peas have shown that the window boxes are a clear winner (the two rows on the right). Sadly, however, they may be victims of their own success. The lateness of being planted out has meant that quite a few of these bigger plants got a bit damaged when being transplanted (“pricked out” seems to lack something given the size of the plants). As a result, second place (but possible eventual winner) goes to the peat pots (second row from left), with the toilet roll tubes last, with the smallest plants. The final verdict then: if you’re leaving your peas in the greenhouse for several weeks longer than is good for them, just sow them several weeks later, allowing you to get their bed prepared in time!


  1. You're right about the slugs I prefer to hunt at night too. Last night I must have collected about fifty of the divils, and three nights previously I had the same result. Do they send for reinforcements or what ???

  2. Never heard about planting nasturtiums to "distract" slugs from other veggies but I'm going to try it out. Love the name of you blog, btw.

  3. What gets us about slugs is how they "know" where to go - you'd think they could find some easier food than having to climb up the walls of the raised beds. The nasturtiums distracting the slugs is perhaps a bit misleading - the slugs just feed on them instead of the other veggies - which is great (unless you want flowers or capers from the nasturtiums of course!).