I have a number of net structures and the latest one, a beautiful, hand made cage was given to me last winter. I put it on my half plot and because there were cabbages in that area last year, I decided to plant my tomatoes there this year. I’m growing only the outdoor kind and the plum type – San Marzano, Roma etc. The plan is to make my own chopped tomatoes or even passata for the winter.


There are 41 tomato plants in here and three tomatillo plants. All seems well.

Next job for today was planting my climbing beans. I don’t just grow runner beans – only a few of those – but a lot of climbing french beans and Borlotto beans – those I will dry and shell them, they are delicious in soups and stews.

There is one more variety to go out – Spagna Bianco. They are just fantastic, huge white butter beans and they last the whole winter. I still have some in a jar and I used a number of them for this year’s growing.

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And last but not least I have to mention my fruit trees. They’re flowering well, one is a crab apple and the other one an eating apple, we could have a good harvest.

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Even though the weather is still quite unsettled and un-spring like I decidedĀ  to plant my Spagna Bianco beans out. I waited quite a while before I started them in pots in the greenhouse but they grew at an alarming rate and very soon were trying to get out of the greenhouse. I put the whole tray of them in the veranda to harden them so I think they were quite tough when they went in the ground. I didn’t want to take chances so I built a little fleece fence round them, perhaps just for a bit of protection from the wind.

There is also one line of them but this didn’t get any pampering because these are just beside the net tunnel and that seems to keep the wind off them.

The next job was to plant something in the four empty cold frames. I had radishes there, harvested them and now they were ready.

I have grown five bush courgettes, ideal for this, hopefully they’ll just sit there and produce loads of tasty fruit. One cold frame had to have two courgette plants but I don’t think this will matter. If it gets too overcrowded I’ll just carefully take one out and plant is elsewhere.

The last job was planting some more lettuce seedlings in the polytunnel. The first batch are doing very well and the four cucumbers as well. I had one tray of lettuce, one cucumber plant and one ‘mystery’ plant. It looks like a squash, courgette or pumpkin – the label got lost in moving. We shall see.


When we went to Paris a few years ago I found a little shop in the street where our hotel was. It sold a huge variety of things – all edible, ranging from chocolates, oils, dried herbs, spices – and dried beans.

There was a jar of large white beans (I didn’t know them then) that looked very interesting. After a chat with the guy there I bought a few, about 100g, also because he said that all his herbs and dried beans were organically grown.

Next spring I tried a few on a wet kitchen towel, just to see if they would sprout – and they did! I planted them and they grew with a vengeance! I managed to find out more about them – they have to be harvested when the pods are quite dry and brown. I waited for that – the harvest was fantastic, these plants are really prolific.

After getting the pods home I shelled them and spread them on some newspapers in the dining room, to get the beans completely dry. After that I stored them in large jars, with a little silica sachet in each, to absorb the moisture (the kind you find in a box of shoes or inside a new handbag when first buying them)

The beans usually last the whole winter, I use them in stews, add them to soups or use them in recipes that ask for red kidney beans. They’re delicious.

Every year I save some beans to start them again, I don’t buy any, my last year’s harvest gives me enough to continue.

This is what I did today – I got some of the beans, 16 cut-up pieces of the middle of a roll of wrapping paper, some potting compost and I’m ready for a new lot of tasty beans. I had to remind myself not to grow too many – made that mistake last year and they created a jungle! They climb very well, the secret was to pinch out the growing tip when the plant reached the top of the cane wigwam, that way they just concentrate on producing the pods.