Digging the runner bean trench

Last summer I planted phacelia in one of my raised beds as a ‘green manure’. It has been growing slowly over the winter, providing a shady place for cats in this strange sunny spring :

.. and just about to burst in flower. The problem is that I need that bed to grow runner beans which I sowed in paper tubes last week

so the cats and flowers may just have to move somewhere else. The phacelia flowers are lovely though and the bees like them so I made a start on digging the trench for the runner beans, leaving an island of phacelia in the middle. I’ve described my tried and tested method for trench digging here. This year I followed much the same method. Here’s a ‘before’ picture, minus cat, with the flowers just about to come out:

First collect together some essential materials: a bucket full of cardboard or paper, soaked in water; four buckets of home made compost; several watering cans of water; some dried seaweed meal. First of all dig a trench about a spade wide and deep along one edge, keeping the soil that you dig out in a bucket. These raised beds are square so are easy to just dig trenches along the four edges of the bed. Then line the trench with with wet cardboard:

This year, I then added a layer of cut phacelia

Then a layer of compost (one bucketful per side) and a sprinkling of dried seaweed

Empty a watering can full of water onto all of this

Then cover up with the topsoil. Repeat, working round each side of the square, then leave to settle for a few weeks, by which time, hopefully, the runner beans will have germinated and grown into sturdy little plants, ready to plant up around a wigwam of garden canes.

And a nice little island of phacelia in the middle, for the bees and the cats to enjoy for another few weeks.

7 thoughts on “Digging the runner bean trench

      1. Reseeding is definitely an issue. If I don’t want the phacelia to reseed, I cut it down for the flowers turn but that is of course easier said than done!

      2. The flowers will only cause reseeding when they produce seed heads, so if you cut the phacelia down before this happens and don’t compost the flowers you should be okay.

    1. I don’t really know but it keeps things growing over the winter and provides flowers in the spring. There are different kinds. Phacelia just provides composting material. Others add nitrogen.

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