An Hour in the Garden 76 – Leeks, Dahlias, French Beans


Growing Leeks



They can be sown indoors in February, or as late as May. I must confess that I was late this year, and sown in late May in modules. Transplanted in August, but it does go to show that you can have some leeway.



On the whole, if you sow in a deep box, you get long roots which I always top and tail when planting out. In modules, one seed per module is enough, but there is nothing wrong with sowing 2 and removing the weakest growing one.



I plant about 18 inches apart by taking a plug of soil out and simply pupping the plant in the hole, filling this with water.



Keep them watered in dry times and weeded.



I pop some garlic cloves in the same bed.






The major one is Puccinia (AKA rust) There is nothing you can do about it, it usually has no real problem for the plant, but if you get a lot of it it spoils the plant. It is a common fungal infection of grasses too.



Good spacing and low humidity help, but once you have it there is nothing much you can do about it.



There is onion rot and leek moth too.

Blanching can be done by drawing up the earth around the leek. I never bother myself because it seems to dirty the outer of the leaf, and to be honest, I don’t mind green leeks!



How to harvest leeks:



The temptation is to simply grab hold and pull it up. You break more leeks that way, the best way – as with all plants, is to lever it out of the ground with a fork.






Carlton – can be an early variety from September onwards – I have grown this one many times with great results



Pancho – another early one



Apollo, ready from December



Toledo – November to February  Long stems



Recipe:  Gammon and leek layer



Growing French Beans



French Beans are seriously good for you, don’t become stringy, like runner beans, and take up less riim, well the dwarf varieties do. They are self supporting and don’t have that many pests.



Sow from April in modules indoor up to July – they don’t like the cold, so I usually sow ourside in late May and by August you have a great crop.



I find that a ten  square metre bed provides enough beans for a good few months, most being frozen, some being pickled.



I find that the mice take some of the early shoots, but these are easily replaced and you soon get full coverage – once the plant if a about 6 inches tall they are generally left alone.



Dwarf plants can be sown about 6 inches apart and 18 inches between the rows. Climbing varieties are usually grown up bamboo canes at the same spacing.



Keep fed and watered – plenty of moisture, and if it is going to be cold in the early season, cover with fleece.






Kenyan – These are must grow beans, they are completely delicious



Purple Teepee Dwarf, purple pods which turn green when cooked!



Algarve, a climber with flat pods – a must when cooking



The plant that keeps on giving – Chilies



I feel a little of a cheat talking about chilies. There are so many  people out there who are better chilie growers than me, I’m sure. This is partially because I don’t like then too hot. I do like some heat, a little bit of heat, but I don’t like the idea of not being able to taste my food. So I grow chilies that are not too spicy.



But my reason for bringing this uop is that we tend to treat them so badly here in the UK. I can’t really speak for anyone in the rest of the world, but the tendency here is to treat them like tomatoes.



Yes there are some similarities. They like to be hot, are very hungry plants too, and to feed them with tomato feed probably is one of the reasons why we do this. But at the end of the season we throw them out!



Actually, if you keep them frost free they will keep on producing year after year.



For my part, since my greenhouse flew into the next field, I have been unable to replace it, and I grew chilies outside for the first time this year. Thankfully we have had a great summer and they have done well.



I will try to keep them for next year just to prove the point and come back to you on it.

Sow from January in a propagator – the temperature is important – read the packet, some need 25ºC to germinate!


They germinate quickly and transplant them on like tomatoes until the end of May.



Take out the top of the plant to encourage branching, and therefore more chillies


Keep moist but not wet




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