Late-night mission to protect my beans

Frost can cause damage
Frost can cause damage

SOUTHSEA GREEN: With Irene Strange

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Well, we’re at the end of another year – not a brilliant year, but good gardeners are always optimistic.

We often talk about the weather. If something fails it’s due to the weather, if a crop is brilliant that too is due to the weather.

But in the main, success is usually down to the skill of the grower (with help from Mother Nature).

Extreme weather is always a good talking point, but wise old gardeners will have seen it all before and will tell you that weather goes around in circles.

British weather is average. This week far too hot, next week far too cold and after that send for the lifeboats!

I’m finding it rather trying when we have rain and frost on the same day. I can’t remember many occasions when we had rain for most of the day followed by a severe frost, as has happened several times in succession in the past few weeks.

But there again I do live at Waterlooville, which seems to have its own micro-climate.

I remember taking my wife Pam out one evening – quite a rare event these days – and we got home just before 10.15 pm and put the TV on to listen to the end of the news.

After the news, the local weather forecast came on and the forecaster warned there may be a frost in rural areas.

Now if there is a frost imminent, we definitely experience it at Waterlooville, which would mean that all my newly-planted runner beans would be killed off at the allotment (which is always two degrees colder than here in our garden).

I was worried and told Pam I was going to the allotment to cover up the runner bean plants.

It was pitch black, but my torch beam was quite powerful and curtains were twitching in the windows of the houses nearby whilst I was dashing about on this essential mission.

I used all the horticultural fleece I could find, fixed polythene on to the bean canes with clips and finished up even using bits of planking, carpet and corrugated iron, anything I could find to cover the beans.

The object of this exercise is to cover the tender plants so that the sun won’t scorch the leaves the following morning.

I got back home after midnight. Was Pam concerned? No, we’ve been married over 50 years, she knows what I’m like but was pleased I’d protected the beans because we both thoroughly enjoy eating early runner beans.

So, beans safe, we slept soundly only to be woken at 5.30am by a rushing sound.

What was it?

More rain!