Welcome to our plot!

I'm Hazel, and in Nov 2006 my friend Jane and I took on a half plot at Hill Allotments, Sutton Coldfield - we want the satisfaction of growing and eating our own fruit and veg, and to improve our diet (and fitness!).

This is the story of what happened next...........

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Raspberry Canes & Bean Frames

The good people of the Hill have been out in force this weekend – & why not when the sun has been shining & the thermometer bobbing about 15 degrees.

After nipping down in the week to plant out the SWISS CHARD (bright lights), & to have a potter, I got to thinking about the raspberries which are in need of support.

These canes have been popping up near the rhubarb at the back of the plot (I’m not actually sure where they have migrated from, as I don’t think that David-other-half or neighbour Ted have raspberries anywhere near) – & they are most welcome. Of course I have no idea what variety, or if they are a summer or autumn strain, just that they are flopping all over the place & want taking in hand.

Before I sorted them out on Saturday morning, I flicked the hoe over the beds to weed (‘is that it?’ said novice neighbour Jody, ‘you have weeded your entire plot in 10 minutes flat?’. Oh yes, indeed, I am Mrs Smug). Of course I had the smirk knocked off my face shortly afterwards when I made a misjudgement whilst whacking in a couple of posts with the mallet for the raspberry supports, & had to raid Jody’s first aid kit.

My war wound suitably dressed, I then braced the posts & put wires between to tie the canes to. I weeded all around the base, ripped out any raspberries which strayed too far from the framework, then gave them a big mulch of muck from the skip (on the advice of potager Chrissie, who came down to help empty the horse muck bags into the manure skip). I’m not sure that it’s the world’s best job – although a damn site better that it was – I’m carefully showing a photo in which the posts look upright, which is more an impressive feat of camera angles than reality, I’m afraid.

Today I went to see John Badger from the bottom, who has most kindly put together a couple of upside-down bean supports for me – each one a ‘T’ shape, so that rather than growing the beans on up converging wigwams, the beans are grown from a central line up diverging strings so that the beans hang down away from the bean growth, making picking much easier. They look brilliant – however I’m going to have to sweet-talk him into making me another couple in order to span the whole 20’ length of the bed.

With all the climbing beans planted in a central line along the bed, this will leave a free area at each side for the dwarf beans, so apart from the snag that the bed will have one side more shady than the other, as the bean frame will be running east-west rather than north-south, it all sounds rather natty.

I pondered on the bean frame as I weeded the strawberry patch, & then top-flower-man-Alan came down to say hello complete with a little geranium plant to give me which is for growing & entering into the Show this year. I must ask cheery Brian & Pauline what the devil to do with it – starting with ‘do you grow it inside or outside’ – I didn’t like to ask Alan as it seemed like rather a basic question.

On the strength the bean frame going up in due course, I came home & sowed FRENCH BEANS (emperor of Russia, pea bean, polish, hsl early warwick, black turtle & triomphe de farcy) along with some PEAS (pea bean & hsl Lancashire lad) & SWEETCORN (tender & sweet f1) & I now have no windowsills free again.


  1. Gosh, what a lot you accomplished in one weekend, I have seen those "T" shaped bean supports before - thought they looked terrific and very sensible. It has been suggested however, that given the wind we get here, wigwams would be better than a traditional bean arrangement.

    Sorry you whacked your hand, hope it didn't require too much first aid - was this about 3.00pm on Sunday by any chance? If so, we were damaging ourselves in unison as I hammered in pegs to mark out where out beds will be (yes, yes, photos later!).

    It's all looking wonderful and I am very impressed and envious.

    If your geranium is a traditional hanging-basket type then it is tender and will not be happy if it gets frosted. Keep protected until it is warm enough to put outside.

  2. I'm still giving the bean supports thought - actually, I've had a bit of a lightbulb moment with regard to them just this evening....

    Hand-whacking was on Saturday, not Sunday, so we didn't yelp in unison!

    Geranium is for the Show - 'to be displaying in a pot not larger than 7"'. Flower man Alan did tell me the variety, but it quite escapes me now....

  3. Geranium is 'Apple Blossom'- keep frost free and treat as any other container bedding plant.

  4. The bean supports look great- thanks for the diagram; whenever I've read about them before I couldn't picture how you stopped it all from falling apart, now I get it!
    I have grand plans for a bean arch (or bean arches, to be exact). The theory is that apart from looking pretty, they should take up less space than a wigwam or double row. We'll see how it works...

    Hazel N

  5. I love the look of that bean frame. It is difficult finding them all when you just make a bamboo wigwam. I might give that a go. Another idea I might have is to find a bicycle wheel and hang strings from that!


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