GARDEN NOTES: Turnips, Nasturtiums, Beans and . . . Franco

What with it being the mid-term break (laughingly referred to as reading week) most of the students have gone home, so it was just me in the garden last Wednesday. I mainly pottered about, doing a bit of weeding and tidying the shed. The radishes, parsnips and celeriac are good to pick, though I will wait until other people turn up to share them out, or cook them in the garden. When I sowed turnip seeds a couple of months ago I didn’t actually know what young turnip plants looked like, and so when the bed grew out a whole raft of weeds I was reluctant to take them out for fear of also uprooting the young turnip plants. But the turnip plants have finally grown to a size where I can (hopefully) recognize them out of the riff-raff of weeds and sort that patch out. The lettuces are looking good, and although their bed is relatively free of weeds one end of it is full of nasturtium seeds which I am having to pull out as they grow out of the soil. This is my fault for not having properly managed the nasturtiums over the summer. Although a delicious and hardy plant, it can be quite invasive if not kept in check.

The broad beans we had planted with the winter vegetables are holding out well, but that is probably only due to the mild weather. It might be a little wetter than it was last week, but I’m still in T-shirt mode, so there is a way to go. Three weeks ago we decided to re-pot five of the bean plants to store them in the shed over the winter, and ironically two of those have died, while the other three are not looking too good either. But like I said, I am just treating these bean plants as an experiment, seen as they turned up so unexpectedly in the winter parcel; heartless as it sounds, they are expendable.

Our neighbouring gardener Franco, who grows vegetables on the balconies overlooking the garden, popped in as he regularly does to check out my handy-work. Franco is an elderly Italian who originally befriended the Common Ground founders as he saw them creating the garden. I think he respected them for their enthusiasm, ambition and skill. And by contrast, I think I amuse him with my bumbling gardening antics. I appreciate his visits, as his advice is always useful, if occasionally a little harsh.

Ever since I planted the broad beans Franco has told me to get rid of them, telling me they are useless. But although I know he is probably right, I still want to carry on with this experiment and give them a chance. Today, however, after once again telling me I should get rid of them, Franco told me that now was the time to sow broad beans in the ground, and so with his help I did so, sowing beans in the same bed as the existing bean plants. Who knows? Maybe the bigger plants can serve as big brothers for the little ones.

November is a time to plant things, such as beans, garlic and onions, that will settle nicely in the ground until the New Year when they then start pushing upwards. The mild November made me forget that now is the time to plant them, so I need to plan for that. It goes to show that proper gardening is a year-round job, and not just something for the Spring and Summer.

It also goes to show that everyone should have a Franco.


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  1. Trackback: CG GARDEN VIDEO TOUR « Common Ground Community Garden

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