This week’s main task was planting out some of the broad beans that we sowed a few weeks back. They had developed into robust young plants in perfect condition for moving on. Whilst we planted out the peas in the polytunnel, broad beans do not do so well under cover as they rely on pollinating insects and the pods are often poorly filled. Destined as they were for an outdoor bed, I should have hardened them off for the last week or so. That simply involves getting them acclimatised to the cooler conditions outdoors, where they have been enjoying the protection of the polytunnel.
In practice, one can often get away without hardening off, but it does depend on the conditions, and it is best to avoid a check in growth that can follow planting out. We planted out at comfortable spacings, with three rows of five plants each across our four feet wide bed. Later, I will bang in some stakes at each end and run some string along the rows to give them a little support. For now, though, we covered the bed with a single layer of fleece to offer them just a little protection to compensate somewhat for not being hardened off. We can remove that in a week or two.
We have had a small set back in the polytunnel, where something had eaten quite a few of the young cima di rapa plants that we sowed a few weeks ago. Oddly, they left the turnips that were sown at the same time, despite the plants being closely related. One row was rather more complete than the others, so we consolidated matters by transplanting the surviving seedlings from the other two rows to form one good row. We then sowed a replacement row of cima di rapa and one row of beetroot Boltardy.
Finally, we inspected the chilli and tomato seedlings. Most had germinated and many are looking rather good already. A couple of pots had nothing to show, so we took some spares from those that had produced two or three seedlings and transplanted them to cover the failures. We resowed three pots of tomatoes, although the seed that was already in those pots may yet germinate; some of the old cultivars are a bit slow to get going.