broad bean plants (c) Rianne Mason

June garden journal

Planting out the beans and Red Orach

I’ve been ‘hardening off’ the beans and herbs for a few days to get them used to the outdoor environment. This just means taking them out of the greenhouse during the day and bringing them back in at night. Now they’re ready for the outdoors so I got dad’s help with planting them.

We’re using old bamboo canes to support the climbing beans, from a plant that got chopped down when it started to take over the garden. Bamboo is like that apparently.

Covering the brassicas

At the Inspire Community Garden I’ve been working with a volunteer to build a cover for the cabbages to stop the pigeons eating what’s little left. I have to admit it took a lot longer than I thought – first creating the wooden frame and then unravelling the mesh before tying it together – but it was a brilliant afternoon. I got to know Debs really well and she’s a horticultural photographer. Meeting new people here has definitely been one of the best parts of volunteering.

Thinning out the lettuce

I’ve never ‘thinned’ anything out before so I asked Steve at the community garden for step-by-step tuition. I know it sounds pretty simple but how do you know if you’ve removed too many or whether you’re removing the right sized crops? Thinning out is a way to help each plant get more access to light, nutrients and water by removing the thinner, smaller plants within it.

I think I did ok. A top tip is to stop sooner rather than later because you can always remove more when you’ve seen how big the remaining plants get.

Learning about seeds and propagation

This RHS unit has been pretty interesting, it’s all about the difference between vegetative propagation and seed propagation. You also learn about the different ways to store seeds and other methods of starting new plants such as layering.

Basically seeds are cheaper and allow for genetic variation but cuttings (vegetative propagation) are useful if you want a plant that’s genetically the same or you don’t want to wait for the seed! You take a cutting using the semi-ripe part of the stem (the bit in the middle) so cut it near a node (to get cambium growth cells) and snip off the younger growth at the end.

Maybe I’ll get to try this in practice soon, I know my mum can do it with her eyes closed.

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