The cold spell after Easter has delayed the plants everywhere, it seems (in my own general gardening as well as the Bees ‘n Beans), but from your feedback it looks like we’re mostly all heading into flowering with the beans now. The radishes will be further behind, but should be catching up! It does mean my timing in the experiment instructions have been a bit off, with most people definitely over the 6 week mark for flowering and starting the experiment. That’s not a problem in terms of the data (weather is what it is!), and hopefully it’s not messed up your calendars too badly.

For those who are starting the experimental stage with the beans, here are some pictures of our setup to show you how we’ve done it. This isn’t the only way – as long as the fleece is sealed around the plant and bees can’t get in, it should be fine – but I thought it would be a nice example in addition to the instructions pictures.

Bagging up beans
Bagging up a bean plant.

For the actual hand-pollinating, the instructions have photographs of how to open and close the flowers. If you grip each one gently by the top and bottom sets of petals and pull down carefully on the bottom set, the flower should open. You don’t need to open it very far, just enough so that you can see the stigma / anthers of the plant (which might also throw out some pollen the first time you do it). Once opened, let go of the petals and the flower should close itself again. Do this five times for each mature flower.

Hand pollinating
Gently open and close the flowers.

You will probably only managed to open / close any one individual flower once or twice. As they go over they become visibly wilted, grey and floppy (a bit sad looking, really!) once a flower looks like that you can leave it alone, as any more handling might damage it and cause it to fall off the plant. That’s it for the hand pollinating part! Do keep an eye on your beans and see if you notice any visitors or robbing on any of the flowers.

Meanwhile, our radishes currently look like this (below). No sign of a flower spike yet – but if you’ve seen one starting on yours, do let me know, as it would be nice to have a photo to show what it looks like. They should be starting to get pretty slug resistant by now, as the leaves are getting thicker, spikier, and generally harder to munch on.

Radishes this weekend