Winter bean trench

A couple of weeks ago I started to prepare for next year’s crop of beans. Deciding against my usual ‘wigwam in a circle’ arrangement, I’m going to try out growing them in rows. With that in mind, I dug a couple of trenches about 5ft long by 2ft across, to fill with kitchen waste and garden scraps. The theory is that this all rots down over winter, and feeds the beans with a load of good stuff, and they in turn grow into fine specimens, producing bumper crops.

Standing back to admire my handiwork, I realised I’d ended up with something resembling two shallow graves. I almost felt inclined to parade the family (plus dog) up and down the street to reassure my neighbours, that “Yes, we’re all still here… none of us had had a nasty trip on a garden fork or anything…”

Once the trenches were filled with waste, they didn’t look quite as sinister. I first lined the bottom of each trench with a layer of newspaper and chicken coop scrapings. The girls aren’t laying any eggs at the moment, but happily for me, they are still producing an extraordinary amount of poo. Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been merrily chucking in kitchen scraps, such as teabags and vegetable trimmings and peelings. I don’t put potato peelings in – they tend to throw up rogue plants everywhere. I also avoid putting any leftover food or meat scraps in, as these are almost bound to attract rats and mice. I think you’ll agree that nothing quite says “The party’s here” like a free chicken in a basket. The last layer was green cuttings and grass clippings, and the whole lot was then covered with soil.

winter bean trench

Spotting a window of fine weather at the weekend, I scootled off down the garden to plant out my broad beans. Some varieties can go in anytime from October, and if planted now, could be producing crops as early as May next year. A couple of rows of Bunyard’s Exhibition were soon poked into the soil to take their chances. If they don’t happen to survive the winter, there’s another packet in the shed that I can whip out in early spring if needs be.

The rest of the bed will be filled up next year with runner beans, heritage broad beans, and a couple of varieties of peas.

After the nil return we had from the bean crop this year, I’ve a feeling I’ll be planting plenty.

Hinckley Times article 18 October 2012

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