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Veg Out: Loving legumes

Veg Out: Loving legumes

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Blogger, private chef and kitchen gardener Kathy Slack of Gluts & Gluttony tells you what to sow and how to grow it. This month, she's loving her legumes.

It’s magic in the veg patch at the moment. Actual magic. Every time you visit there’s something else sprouting. It’s the time of year when I’m reminded of why I grow. It’s not just the satisfaction of having grown your own dinner, though this isn’t to be underestimated. What really gets me is the almost magical transformation from unassuming little seed to gargantuan, galumphing great plant drooping under the weight of its harvest. It’s a kind of alchemy. And I marvel at it every time. 

The biggest transformations at this time of year can be seen amongst the legume family: one minute tiny, the next a huge vine to rival Jack’s infamous beanstalk. I love a legume. It’s a large and diverse family ranging from the humble pea to alfafa, lupins and, yes, peanuts. Peas, broad beans and green beans are the most popular, and rightly so since they are, I think, the easiest to grow.

Peas sown 5cm apart and 5cm deep any time between March and July will sprout, scramble up any netting you care to provide and crop within 2 months, given good weather. They need nothing doing to them except being introduced to something to climb up.

Broad beans are even easier. Plant in rows 20cm apart in early spring then wait. They don’t even need staking.

Green beans are a little more involved, but it’s all relative. Sow in March undercover, then plant out in late May in pairs around a bamboo frame. They can be a bit dim, so you might need to tie them in to encourage them to grow up the cane rather than along the ground.

Whichever you grow – or, indeed, if you grow all three – you will have a spectacular harvest throughout the summer so long as you keep picking (which produces more flowers and more pods). That means you’ll have lots of small-ish crops quite often, which is ideal for salads and simple little suppers like this.

"I love a legume. It’s a large and diverse family ranging from the humble pea to alfafa, lupins and, yes, peanuts."

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