by E. j. KING IN an ordinary peace-time year (when we also seem to escape the battles of the elements) we make a great show of getting some of our vegetables started very early. This is all right for verS+ hardy kinds such as shallots, but it is a doubtful course to pursue with broad beans. Yet a great many seed houses and old-fashioned gardening books will tell you to sow broad beans as early as January. Well, not many of us were able to prepate soil for sowing at that time this year. even if we had wanted to, and in the long run our delay was good for us.
Actually there is a great deal to be said for starting an early lot of broad beans in boxes under the protection of glass, hut the main sowing should not be made outdoors until April in anything like a cold year. The water anal cold hasn't properly gone out of the soil till then : in consequence sowi ings made too early often rot; or even a they do survive, the seedlings will often he puny. A good late sowing in fair conditions romps away ahead of half-starved and half-frozen January and February ventures.
Broad beans are really very easy to grow. and if good seed is obtained a heavy yield repays the gardener before the end of July. The earlier pickings in June can be used like runner beans, and a long series of delicious meals is obtained by successional pickings.
Strictly speaking, the soil need not be manared for any of the pea or bean tribe, because they can get so much nitrogen from the air that they do really bring some of it into the soil. But if you want your plants to make a flying start (the surest way to success) and if you want them to produce a much heavier yield than they would do in Nature's own way, then you will be well advised to give a good manuring in advance. The good food thus put into the soil is far from wasted. It actually is improved by the addition of the nitrogen the bean and pea root -bacteria build up while the plants arc growing. In this way you use the manure twice—once for the beans and peas, and secondly for whatever crop you grow after them. Suitable crops for succession' are the various types of greens, especially winter and spring greens, which arc usually ready to plant out when the beans and peas are removed.
So we may take it that we'll spare a little manure, either animal dung or compostheap material, for the beans. Any type of soil will do, though rich and somewhat stiff or moist soil is best. The beans are sown usually in double rows two feet apart. Each double row is about as wide as the spade blade, the seeds being eight inches apart down each side. They should be about two inches deep, and covered firmly. But before sowing it is as well to soak them in paraffin for a few hours, and then sprinkle them heavily with led lead, to deter mice. These pests can smell the germinating seeds, and make little round holes to fish them out. They are still more destructive to peas, and often cause the gardener ) cast undeserved blame on either birds or the scads themselves. A good sprinkling with soot on the surface is an additional help. Both peas and beans need some lime in the soil, hut lime and soot should not he allowed to mix.
Peas can now (after properly hardening -off) be transplanted out of boxes started in frames and greenhouses. They will perhaps want some protection from cold in the shape ol branches or twigs or straw. Cold or not. they will certainly want some which usually
nptraonteacateiotiol ab rier‘wl'i,of the tops, if not all. Actually this need not mean that you have lost the crop, for if the seedlings are healthy they will hush out very much more.
This brings lire to an important point, namely, that of spacing. In the smaller garden I think only first early peas need be la own. A succession is ensured by etfccessitaial sowing of short rows about ten feet long once every three weeks or so. Ciradus (araft.) and Peter Pan (Iaft.) are I arieties supreme for yield with flavour. Each aow is a double one about six inches wide, the peas being placed not closer than fhoeurmitn,clitiz napprittritt., The double rows should and summer spinach can be sown between them. Lettuces are another. good catch crop between, and a few seeds of a good sort such as Market Favourite or Lohjoit's Cos should now be sown in a frame for planting out when large enough.