Tales from the Plot

‘Beware of the last full moon in May’ – that’s widely accepted by the more experienced gardeners as being hopefully the last chance of a frost. I have learnt to my peril over the years that to ignore such advice can be a mistake! 
12th May is known as bean day, remember the word ‘bingo’ because beans should be planted with Eyes Down! I always set french and runner beans at this time saving my own seed year after year. I grow french dwarf bush beans as they produce prolifically throughout the summer and need no support.
With the help of a dibber, I make four inch (10cm) deep holes across the plot about eight to 10 inches (20 to 25cm) apart and place four or five seeds in each hole, normally three or so will germinate and they’ll grow together and hold each other up, the only downside is it’s a backbreaking job harvesting them so I normally get my grandson Sidney to pick them! 
If the beans are picked young they need no more than blanching so served still slightly crunchy with a knob of salted butter ….. they are an absolute delight, also try with a few shavings of Parmesan wow!
This is also time to set sweetcorn, I set mine in 15 cell trays with one seed per cell, I water well and cover with clingfilm and within a week to 10 days you see the green shoots pushing at the clingfilm, just split the clingfilm and allow them to grow through they grow quickly. Once the shoots are around six to eight inches (15 to 20cm) tall I plant them about 18 inches (45cm) apart ….. if you mulch heavily with either grass cuttings or leaves collected in the Autumn they can just be left alone and I’m touching wood but I’ve never failed yet! (famous last words).
This is also a time to get the hoe out, regular hoeing with the help of my grandson will keep the weeds at bay this task must be performed at least once a week to keep the plot reasonably tidy.
It’s also time to keep a close eye out for the first signs of white-fly and black-fly they will be treated to a squirt of water with washing up liquid and a tablespoon of rape seed oil added, this must be repeated every day to do any good as the little blighters lay their eggs daily so you have to squirt several generations to show any signs of success.
It’s at this time that ‘plant swapping’ between potholders goes on when any excess can be exchanged for someone else’s excess, I usually end up growing something I never intended to purely because somebody’s given me half a dozen plants because they have too many; that’s all part of the fun! 
Richard Thorpe
15b Syston Allotments