Hartley Magazine

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The November Clear Out

My greenhouse gets pretty gruesome towards the end of the season. Mine had become quite off-puttingly jungly, filled with collapsed stems, rotten tomatoes and a thriving community of snails.

So the other morning I poured myself a big, steaming mug of tea (soon with added sprinkling of compost), rolled up my sleeves and had the big autumn clear out. The rotting tomatoes are now on the compost heap – so guaranteeing a useless crop of seedling tomatoes mushrooming up across the garden next spring -, containers of old spent compost have been spread around the garden, and the snail posse more or less evicted. The greenhouse is bare as a baby’s bottom, and much cleaner.

It’s strange to get the urge to sow at this time of year, when everything’s closing down, but instantly i did. Perhaps it was because there was space to be filled, mess to be made.

I usually sow broad beans in autumn straight into the ground at the allotment, to overwinter and produce early beans, but to be honest it’s always a hit and miss affair.

Sowing Broad Beans in Autumn

The allotment is at the top of a windy hill: great views, but it takes the full blast of icy winter winds and the beans are often battered and in need of replacement by spring. The bare greenhouse is the perfect solution. I picked out the largest modules I could find (I think these were actually old pansy containers) as I imagine these plants will get quite big quite quick, and sowed one per module, into multi-purpose peat free (I didn’t bother with seed compost: these seeds are so huge they dont really need the finely-sieved stuff) pushing the big seeds down into the soil and watering in.

Barring extreme stowaway snail incidents, I should have prettier looking broad beans next spring than I did this.