How to plant springtime leafy greens and maintenance in our broad bean bed
Planting springtime green leafy crops
- Our winter greens bed of perpetual spinach and kale is still producing but the spinach is going to seed and some of the kale leaves are yellowing. Both are signs that the veges have come to the end of their season but they’ll tie us over for another month till the new crops mature. You can keep picking what’s left of the spinach and we give the kale a nitrogen boost through the application of some chicken poo to keep it in optimal health.
- While the temperatures are rising it’s still quite cool and there’s plenty of rain, so being a New Moon we suggest this week you plant some of the more hardy green leafy crops like mustard lettuce, Canasta lettuce, tat soi, large-leafed rocket and mesclun.
- Plant your smaller crops at the north-facing end for the Southern Hemisphere or south-facing end for the Northern Hemisphere of the bed to maximise sunshine. You don’t want the larger crops shading the smaller ones. The smallest is the Canasta lettuce and the largest is the mustard lettuce.
- Salad crops don’t need a lot of nutrients from the soil there’s no need to dig anything into the soil before you plant. We will top dress the bed with rock dust once everything is planted though.
- Leave gaps between crops for slug and snail traps. We find the two that work best are yeast traps and newspaper in an upturned pot.
- To make a yeast trap mix a heaped teaspoon of dried yeast with a heaped teaspoon of white sugar in a shallow dish or container. Add warm water to the dish and leave for 15 minutes or so until it’s foaming. Then scoop out a hole in the soil to fit the dish in so it’s at soil level height when in place.
- With the other trap we need a heavy-ish pot (so it won’t blow away) and fill it with scrunched-up newspaper. Turn it upside down on the soil and lift it slightly with a rock so that snails and slugs can crawl in to it during the day. They’ll love hiding in the folds of the newspaper and then you can transport them away from your leafy green bed to a more suitable location. If you check your traps every day and remove the slugs and snails you’ve caught, you can rid your garden of the little critters for good.
Pinching out the tips of broad beans
- Our broad beans are about 90cms high and to keep them all upright as well as to increase crop yield we pinch out the tips on each plant. This causes branches to grow off the main stem which makes the plant more sturdy and it encourages more flowering and more beans.
- Broad beans are great plants because they provide all-important flowers at this time of the year for the bumblebees and honey bees to feed on, they produce a good crop and they can be dug in to the soil when the crop is over to provide a nitrogen boost.
- The tips you pinch off are very tasty either raw in a salad or added at the last minute to a stir fry.
Camera: Tom Neunzerling
Editor: Thomas Asche