Despite the cold night time temperatures this week, we will begin to sow our frost tender beans in pots, indoors, under glass. We have a selection of dwarf French beans which are attractive little plants that do not need staking because they only grow to around 30cm.
The dwarf French bean varieties we will be sowing are called Primavera, Sonesta and Purple Teepee and despite the small plant size these produce a heavy yield. Their compact habit makes them suitable for small spaces and they can even be grown in pots, so if you have little outdoor space these are a good choice. We will plant the beans out into the vegetable garden once the risk of frost has passed.
Our other beans are the tall runner beans, which can easily grow to a height of two metres, and need sturdy supports to climb up. The varieties we will be growing are Firestorm and St George.
Firestorm is a self pollinating red flowering runner bean and by being self pollinating ( pollination being necessary to start the development of beans) we are not dependent on good weather to enable insect pollination. We should get a good harvest even if the weather when the beans are in flower is poor.
St George is an attractive bean with bicolored (red and white) flowers, and it is known for producing early clusters of beans. Beans require more water when flowering and this also helps them to develop heavier pods.
We will be potting up more of our small seedlings in the greenhouse and watering the tiny seedlings that are emerging in the outdoor vegetable beds. These include carrots, chard, beetroots and parsnips.
Last week we started work on moving some of our larger ferns on the fern bank. However when doing this we discovered that under the fronds of some of these well established ferns were a number of baby ferns. Most ferns reproduce through the ‘alternation of generations’, alternating successive generations of sexual and asexual forms. The sexual form, called the gametophyte or prothallia, is a tiny kidney-shaped plant which can be difficult to find because of its smallness. The asexual form, known as a sporophyte, is represented by the fern plant as it is commonly known.
Sporophyte ferns have a method of asexual reproduction which is a form of vegetative cloning, branching off of the root-like underground stem, or rhizome, often forming large, genetically uniform colonies. These are what we have found with our ferns, and we are carefully moving these offspring and placing them in some of the emptier spaces of the fern bank.
In other BPCG news, are you keen to spend some time being creative and help to make lovely cards for us to sell and raise funds for BPCG at the shop? We’re looking for 5 volunteers to join workshop sessions to design, create and print botanical, greenhouse-inspired designs for postcards that can be sold in the shop. We will be using lino printing techniques (all materials provided) and work on coming up with, preparing, cutting and printing a design each over four evening sessions, Tuesday 4th May, 6:30-8:30pm in the Upper Greenhouse, and the three following Tuesday evenings in May (finishing on the 25th). You don’t need to be experienced, as we will be spending some time practising and trying out things, but an eye or enthusiasm for botanical illustration would be useful! You should be able to commit to being there every week, and be happy with your design being used by BPCG to create cards for sale. Please let Kate know if you are interested, and we will confirm details in due course. Email firstname.lastname@example.org
We had a lovely piece written about us in South West Londoner. You can read it here