Food Growing Organic Practice Soil Urban

Broad Beans 2023

I first planted Broad Beans on December 4th 2021. See the photos from 2021 below. This will then be third year I have planted them in the same pot.

No dig aficionados will be interested to know that at no point have I thrown away the soil in this container. I have merely cut the plants away at their base, leaving the roots in the soil, and refreshed the pot by means of growing (another) legume like the Buckwheat I cut down in the autumn, and dressed the surface with compost.

As far as I know this is pretty extreme. When people talk about No Dig, they are applying the method to a bed in the ground, not to containers. I’m not even certain whether it is supposed to work in pots. It seems logical, however, that the roots of older plants will decompose into the soil, and that the actions of worms (of which there are few in here) will create some aeration. However, I’m almost certain that I would get better growth if I composted the remaining soil after harvest and started again with a whole fresh round of compost. Even if I dug it up and mixed in some compost – No Dig heresy. So, it’s an experiment.

What I can vouch for is that using 2021’s Super Aquadulce beans as a seed stock, planting my own beans as seeds, created smaller and less productive plants. Of course, 2022’s smaller crop might equally have been to do with this No Dig “in container” method I have been experimenting with? This year, I reasoned, it was a good idea to buy in fresh bean stock from Tamar Organics by which approach I will be able to eliminate what caused the smaller growth. Science innit.

Also I have reflected that, with the amount of care one lavishes on a plant through the year, getting a mediocre crop is dispiriting. I know some people are militant about only using their own seed, a logic that they extend to disparage the use of F1 seeds, but as far as I’m concerned it’s cool. I mean, none of us is an island! As fun as it is to grow from one’s seed (and I have a bumper crop of seeds to sow in Spring 2024) total self-sufficiency as position is overrated.

As far as F1 seeds go, this is where I’m squarely with the Wizards. Of course GMOs are heresy, lunacy, but we should use whatever breeding techniques we can to make great crops; to make organic work. In actual fact these Super Aquadulce beans aren’t F1s. But some F1s, even if I can’t use their seed, that’s gotta be cool. This year I bought some Spinach, “Tundra F1,” which I look forward to growing again.

I was delighted with the latest batch of compost out of my hot bin.

Ooo-arrr. Look at that there compost (Here dressing my Mint pot).

And here it is laid out as a sheet mulch, spread like thick like butter, on my broad bean box.

The box sited. Here it gets a lovely long day of light as the sun sweeps from east to west.

Here are the beans. Sown squarely. Next year I will try the Biointensive method of sowing in triangular formation. It does make sense.

As Henry Thoreau said, “What shall I learn of beans or beans of me?”