Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary


Friday, 16th March, 2007
sowing beansGARDENER’S WORLD, now in it’s 40th year, started a new season on BBC 2 this evening, and for once I was just ahead of Monty Don. This week’s task was planting broad beans and I got mine sown this morning. A new feature of the Gardener’s World website is downloadable video guides to growing particular plants and the first of these is about broad beans. It’s a podcast; the most appropriate medium for a discussion on sowing beans.

I’ve planted my beans in staggered rows just 6 inches apart; it’s more usual to leave 12 inches between rows but if you’re growing in deep beds you can squeeze more plants in. If I want a succession of beans, I should sow another crop in 5 weeks time and again in 10 weeks time.

At this time of year, the weeks go by so quickly and it’s easy to miss out on sowing a crop. Next to go in will be seed potatoes and onion sets, but, Monty Don advises, the soil is still too cold and wet for anything but the broad beans.

robinIt’s great to have the company of the resident robin when I’m digging, cocking its head as it watches from the edge of the bed, then hopping down to pick up some small creature that I’ve disturbed. Compared with other birds – like the streetwise sparrow or fazed pheasants - it exudes an air of bright-eyed alertness.

blue titOne of our resident blue tits has a bill deformity but so far it seems to be coping well enough. Its upper mandible has been growing unchecked for the past month or so, the lower mandible is growing at a slower rate. When I first saw it, I assumed that it had somehow got a thorn stuck near its beak but it soon became obvious that it was the beak itself that was growing to an abnormal length. It does mean that it can reach the sunflower hearts in the feeder that other blue tits can’t reach.