Category Archives: Broad beans

Chelsea chop

I’ve had a few emails asking about ‘The Chelsea Chop’ what is it and what does it do?  

I’m guessing this has come about after watching the wonderful RHS Chelsea flower show on our TV’s recently. It doesn’t take a genius to work out it’s something that normally done around the time of the flower show (late May or early June). It’s were you simply cut back the stems of some herbaceous plants such as Sedum, Echinacea purpurea, Campanula lactiflora, Rudbeckia ‘herbstonne’ to name but a few cut them back to around one third as their flower buds start to appear.  But why?  Cutting them back will make your plants stockier and bushier and will give you flowers into late summer/ Autumn, also helping to keep your borders looking tidy, without all those stems needing staking.  

If that sounds a little too radical why not try a less scary approach and cut back one in every 3 stems?  If you’ve never tried it have a go and let me know what you think later in the season. I’m about to do it with my sedum they do tend flop out wards leaving a big ugly hole in the middle.

And joy of joys, I harvested my first batch of broadbeans, how can anything beat sitting in the sunshine popping open their big pods, which remind me of huge cozy sleeping bags.

My allotment to do list:

 It’s time to start harvesting those broadbeans

Also early potatoes are getting ready to be dug up to, but keep earthing up your other spuds

Sow little rows of beetroot, lettuce, kohl rabi every couple of weeks

And believe it or not it’s time to think about winter cabbage, these can be sown this month in preparation for later on.

Keep training your peas to climb their supports, keep a ball of string in your pocket, saves walking back and forth to get it.

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Aquadulce Claudia – over wintering broad bean.

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In November last year I sowed some over wintering broad beans called Aquadulce Claudia. I have never sowed them before, but I love broad beans and the idea that I could have a cheeky early harvest in late spring really excited me.

I sowed them in three different locations to see which location would be best for next Autumn.

– The first were sowed in an unheated Poly tunnel

– Second unprotected in a raised bed

– Third where in a raised bed but under a home made cloche made from corrugated plastic.

Results so far:

The first set popped their heads up first, but then disaster struck, when mice snuck into the Poly Tunnel and dug all but two up, then to add insult to injury snails started to nibble on them. They are still growing the tallest, but they do look very leggy, which would suggest, even though the poly tunnel is bright the light level may not be ideal for them.

The unprotected ones came up last but more germinated, although healthy, still small.

The last set grown under the makeshift cloche look brilliant however not as many germinated. The ones that did come up, look fab. Lovely and strong, good colour very healthy. The corrugated plastic is completely clear, unlike the slightly opaque Poly tunnel.

It’s still early doors with regards which way is best, but now spring is approaching things will start to speed up.

It’s quite an interesting experiment. Hopefully in the late spring I will be munching on wonderful bright green Broad Beans covered in garlic butter… Well that’s the plan!