Now Planting: Peas, Swiss Chard, Courgettes

After a busy few plot sessions I’m pleased to say that Jo and I have made some good progress. Here’s a quick picture round-up:

Peas and Swiss Chard

The pea frame that we constructed last week has now been populated with a ten-pack of ‘Golden Sweet’ and another of ‘Shiraz’; both mangetout varieties. We’ve put four of our Swiss Chard ‘five colours’ plants in at the end of the row as well:

May 2016 peas and chard
Two more slug traps in, and hopefully the mice will pass them by…

Courgettes (and more Chard)

We’re growing our courgette plants at the far end of the plot this year. A dozen plants will be going in eventually, the first to be ready are three each of ‘Soleil F1’ and firm favourite ‘Tondo di Piacenza’, which I’ve planted motte-and-bailey style, on small mounds surrounded by a water-catching reservoir. A couple more Swiss Chard have been planted as well; they should look good growing up through the courgette plants. Assuming the slugs don’t get ’em first, that is. We’ve put in a beer trap and scattered organic pellets to hopefully deal with them.

May 2016 courgettesplanted
That’s half of this year’s plants in.

Three Sisters

I also found time to prep this year’s three sisters patch. If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s a companion-planting scheme of Native American origin, involving beans, sweetcorn and squash. The corn provides a climbing frame for the beans to scramble up whilst the squash foliage shades the ground and keeps weeds at bay.

That’s in theory, anyhow. Didn’t work too well last year – the squash foliage went berserk and the dwarf beans I planted were swamped, although the sweetcorn did rather well – but hopefully this year it’ll have better results. Not much to see so far, just six large and well-manured mounds of soil, awaiting planting at the weekend, time and weather allowing.

May 2016 three sisters patch prepped
Bare and bleak for now, but a riot of colour later in the year, all being well.

Oh, and I weeded between the potato ridges. Actual progress, coming along nicely.

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4 comments

  1. Darren T says:

    The variety of corn I grew last year (I forget which) was quite tall and probably would have been sturdy enough to support beans, if the beans weren’t a dwarfing variety (Purple Queen) that ended up swamped by the rampant squash foliage. I’m growing Incredible F1 corn this year, with plenty of space and nutrients for them, so fingers crossed it’ll work out. Otherwise I’ll drop the beans next year and do a ‘two sisters’ instead. Or grow sweet peas or climbing nasturtiums as the third instead.

  2. Matt says:

    I’ve tried the three sisters approach with the similar results to you, although in my case it was climbing beans overtaking the sweetcorn. Now I do a modified version without the beans and it works better.

    Someone suggested to me that the ancient people who came up with the idea left the beans and squash on the plants to cure, picking them only at the end of the season when they’d gone hard – so the tangled mess didn’t matter as much.

    In any case, I hope your sisters behave themselves this year 🙂

    • Darren T says:

      Cheers Matt, I’m just planning on keeping a close eye on everything and pruning back where necessary. I think I’ll be using Fasold climbing beans, which are quite vigorous, but should bush up nicely if I take the leaders out on a regular basis.

      And that’s a very good thought indeed re: leaving everything to cure. Dried Fasold beans are great for using in stews over winter and I’ll be growing enough elsewhere on the plot to keep us going with fresh ones all summer.

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