Take a look at the propagator above. The nearest row to the camera is some french marigold seedlings. Beyond that some smaller lemongrass seedlings, leaning over. Then it’s tiny clumps of chamomile and a few red basil shoots. Then, wow! Closest to the window are eight Yard Long Red Noodle bean seedlings. Although they’re up to eight inches tall I’m determined to still call them seedlings because I sowed everything in that propagator just one week ago. Yes, from seed to the size of your hand in seven days.
I transplanted them into a bigger container and put them in the plastic greenhouse outside, to harden them off before putting them into their final large pot later in the week. When moving them I saw that they had even longer roots, maybe 10 inches / 25cm long. How can they do that in one week?
Perhaps it’s wrong to be surprised: the whole premise of this plant is size and fast growth. In a hot summer the Red Noodle beans themselves can grow over 2 feet / 60cm long, on a plant up to eight feet / 2.5m tall. A consistently hot summer is by no means certain in this country, but I’ll gladly accept either outcome: the novelty of huge beans if it’s hot, or more delicious and tender short beans if it’s not.
Also growing quickly are the potato plants. Only a week ago I earthed them up, but today there was lots of leafy growth again. It took four bags of compost and manure to cover them this afternoon and the raised bed is now more or less full, so it’s over to the plants to do the rest.
Nearby the broad beans are coming along well. This is the variety called The Sutton, which I’ve grown for the past three years. It works well in a domestic garden because it’s a dwarf plant, reaching little more than 18 inches / 45cm height.
Looking closer, several of the plants have the tell-tale dark spot which signifies the first flowers forming. Late in July there should be a good crop of chunky beans.
One of my favourite ways of serving them is topped with haloumi cheese and bacon. Delicious.
Next to the broad beans are a few nasturtiums. They’re a good companion because they attract the nuisance black fly, which almost always appear on my broad beans.
Once in flower they also attract the often disastrous cabbage white butterfly, who in theory will lay their eggs on the nasturtiums rather than nearby brassicas. I’ll be growing kale, broccoli and cauliflowers not far away so if it helps protect them too it’ll be a win-win.