Skip to main content

It's been an unusually mild winter here in the Pacific Northwest, and though we're only half way through February, the past week has brought several days in the low 50's.  I know it's too early to plant, but it's hard not to think about it.  Of all the vegetables that I routinely plant in my garden, my favorite is the green bean.  If you are one who enjoys a vegetable garden as well, I thought I might embark upon a short series of diaries on various heirloom vegetables and uncommon vegetable ideas to tickle your curiosity.

I'll begin with my favorite...the green bean.  They say a good man is hard to find...but a good green bean?  Even harder.  If you buy your seeds from the local garden center or big box store, your choices are pretty limited.  But seed catalogues and online sources vastly increase the spectrum of beans you can choose to plant.  There's a whole nuther world of beans beyond Kentucky Wonders and Blue Lakes.  

Ever heard of greasy beans?  Rattlesnake beans?  Half-runners?  Lazy Wife beans?  Just about everyone is familiar with heirloom tomatoes...but there are heirloom beans as well.  Dig in below the fold for the lowdown on good beans.

I will admit straight up...when it comes to green beans for me, "it's about the bean, stupid."  I'm not terribly fond of those slender haricots verts or italian varieties that are all pod and no bean.  Nope...I like some beans in my green beans.  Late in the summer, my favorite pot of beans is one that has a fair amount of shellies in it...beans that have gotten a little bg, and the pod a little tough, so you just shell the still soft beans out and throw them in with the rest that have been snapped.  Mix in some small, tender new potatoes...and that's some good eatin.'

My grandparents moved to southern Ohio from Eastern Kentucky back in the 20's, and they must have brought some bean seed with them.  They always grew a large garden, and usually had two or three kinds of beans.  Pole beans, half runners and greasy beans. My grandmother always saved some dried beans for the next year's garden.

What are greasy beans, you ask?  They are a variety of bean that doesn't have the short "fuzz" that normally covers a grean bean pod, so they look and feel slick.  Hence the name greasy.  They grow them a lot in Kentucky, W. Virginia and parts of Georgia and North Carolina.  They are meaty, tender, and packed with flavor.  Greasy beans are a category of bean, and there are many local varieties.  Some are long, some short.  Some have tightly packed beans inside the hulls that get large and give the pod a beaded look...cut shorts they call them.  They're all good.

Pole beans are always good, and I won't lie...I've planted my share of Kentucky Wonders.  They are productive, dependable and don't taste bad at all.  For canning, they hold up well, though these days most of the beans I put up are blanched and frozen.  I don't see many gardeners here in urban Portland growing pole beans.  Maybe space is a concern.  I usually grow them, but I don't use the old "teepee" supports that I used to used back in Ohio where I had a much larger gardening space.
Now I use 2X2X8 ft lumber, and staple nylon bird netting to the poles to make one long continuous trellis.  It works fine for me, and is actually very space efficient.  I set the poles about 12 inches deep for support, and that leaves 7 vertical feet of trellis.  Not quite the 8 ft I would like, but it serves the purpose.

Rattlesnake beans are a type of pole bean, and they can be found in many seed catalogues.  If you garden in a hot clime, you should definitely give them a try, as they're very heat tolerant.  Just keep them watered.  They have a purplish striped/mottled pod, and are very tasty.  Another great pole bean is one called Logan Giants...another heirloom.  I've grown Partridge Head beans (sometimes called Paterge Beans) as well, and they make great shelly beans.  The bean isn't solid's a mottled brown, and is popular in parts of Kentucky and Tennessee.  Really, if you're getting to that age where stooping over and picking beans is hard on your back or knees...give my trellis system a try and grow pole beans.  They produce like gang busters and are easy to pick.

Now Half, Runners are my unqualified favorites for eating during the season.  There are many varieties, but some of what is sold as Half Runners in the big catalogues has been bred over the years and lost many of the traits that make the heirlooms so good to eat.  They have been bred for longevity, and have become tougher, with less flavorful beans.  A good, heirloom Half Runner is something else, and as prolific a bean as the day is long.  Pick 'em today, and you'll have more to pick in 3 day's time.

The term "half runner" refers to its growth habit.  It's somewhere between a bush bean and a pole bean.  Some half runners are more like "quarter runners...essentially bush beans.  Others are truly in between, while still others probably should be grown with a low trellis.  I will sometimes drive a few 3 ft stakes along the rows and simply tie a cotton twine along them about 2 feet or so above the ground for the runners to cling to as they grow.

There are white, pink, brown and mottled Half Runners, and every region has it's old varieties.  Once I left the Midwest and moved out west, however, I found them hard to find.  The regional taste preference, at least here in Oregon, seems to be for the slender beans with very immature (not full) beans inside the pods.  I buy my Half Runner seed mail order now.  I used to be able to go to the local hardware store during gardening season, where thy had seed in bulk in large apothecary jars.  I haven't found anyplace like that out here.

My favorite way of cooking fresh green beans is to cook some bacon ends and pieces in a pot till just crisping, and then put the freshly snapped and rinsed beans in the pot over low heat.  I only add enough water to keep them from scorching, and let them wilt down and cook till they are soft.  Just some salt and pepper for seasoning, and some small new potatoes if I have some.  I really don't enjoy "tender-crisp" green beans, which is the only way my health conscious sister makes them anymore.  I like my pasta al dente, not my beans.

I'm going to post a link to a wonderful seed source for heirloom seeds.  It's called Sustainable Mountain Agriculture, and they have tomatoes and beans.  Do check it out, and read the home page where it explains what they are up's a pretty amazing undertaking in this day and age.  I've ordered from them in the past, but with the beans...depending upon the variety you select, they often limit the quantity you can order at one time due to their limited inventory.

If you do some googling, there are other sources out there...but this company has some truly hard to find regional heirloom varieties.  It is one of the things that makes gardening fun

Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 8:31 AM PT: Here's a nice article on greasy beans:

Originally posted to Keith930 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 05:18 PM PST.

Also republished by Community Spotlight.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Any favorite early beans? (4+ / 0-)

       Late beans?   Here in Florida, the rabbits are eating all my bean leaves but not the bean(s) itself/themselves.   Trying protective wiring.  So far, the bunnies are winning.

    •  pink half runners (4+ / 0-)

      They are tasty and ready to pick in about 52 days.  Many of the heirlooms take at least 65 or 70 days.

      I'm glad I don't have rabbits to contend with here.  Only squirrels and crows.  I cover the seed rows with bird net until they are about 3 inches tall to keep the crows from eating the emerging seedlings.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 05:46:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  those rattlesnake beans might be a good choice (4+ / 0-)

      They aren't early beans, but since they are pole beans they grow up out of reach of the rabbits, and they'll take the Florida sun.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 05:59:49 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  rabbits! (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        oceanview, Hoghead99

        Then they'll just snap off the vine at the base and you go out to pick your pole beans one day and wonder why they've suddenly all gone limp. :(  Hate those things.

        •  Rabbits defeated by chicken wire - 24" (4+ / 0-)

             they will not dig under nor hop over. Dumb bunnies! Chicken wire aka poultry netting around $0.54 a running foot @ 24" wide here......

          Best, HH99

          Compost for a greener piles?

          by Hoghead99 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 06:41:32 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  groundhogs! (0+ / 0-)

          I once saw a groundhog chomp off a three foot long branch from one of my tomato plants, loaded with tomatoes, and drag it away across the field to wherever it's den was.

          Happily, I no longer have to contend with groundhogs.  Sometimes fencing in your garden is the only option.

          "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

          by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:44:58 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Thanks for this great diary Keith930. I have to (14+ / 0-)

    find a space for gardening this year.  My S.O. of nine years and I just broke up, so I'm in temporary transition.  My Mom's house in central PA, only has about 20 by 20 feet of garden space.

    The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

    by HoundDog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 05:37:09 PM PST

    •  It's a matter of whether... (13+ / 0-)'ll be at your Mom's house.  Pole beans are vertical plants.  20 by 20 feet can yield more beans than you both can eat.  One-fifth of that would be too much if you plan it right.  One of the characteristic things you see in photographs of Depression-era poor is the parallel strings hanging eight to twelve inches apart from the eave of a roof to the tiny strip of earth at the foot of a porch -- along those strings rises a curtain of beans that cools the porch as it feeds the family.

      •  Thanks, dance. I did want to plant a few things (7+ / 0-)

        other than beans.  Like tomatoes, watermellon, squash, cucumbers, corn, peppers, jalepinoes, onions, etc. etc.


        The means is the ends in the process of becoming. - Mahatma Gandhi

        by HoundDog on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 06:39:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  I've Seen Old Swing Sets Used As A Trellis nt (3+ / 0-)

        There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

        by bernardpliers on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 06:16:38 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Every long branch or cane... (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Hoghead99, Leo in NJ, bablhous

          ...that I prune in my yard goes into mine, all lashed together.  The only thing to be careful about is not to stick the end of something that roots easily (e.g., mulberry or willow) into the ground, lest it re-establish itself there -- unless you want that, of course.  The end result in my yard is a funky folk-artsy assemblage that looks interesting even in winter.

          •  Heavy Aluminum Conduit Last Forever (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dance you monster, bablhous

            If you want to pay six or seven bucks for a pole.  Use a dig bar to make a hole 2 ft deep, and it'll still be 8' tall.

            There’s always free cheddar in a mousetrap, baby

            by bernardpliers on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 06:37:17 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  In England (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            dance you monster, bablhous

            we use a lot of hazel pruned out of the hedgerows. They are very flexible when fresh so all sorts of interesting structures can be built with them. Unfortunately, birds like these as they make handy perches when going after tender pea shoots >:-(

            "There's a crack in everything; that's how the light gets in". Leonard Cohen

            by northsylvania on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 10:48:49 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  so the Arundo Donax is just out then? (0+ / 0-)

            heh,,her dad did that and next thing you know, 'Jed's a millionaire' 1$ a cane that might be so..

            ..'they all said
            Jed move away from there!'

            From those who live like leeches on the people's lives, We must take back our land again, America!...Langston Hughes

            by KenBee on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 05:47:28 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Beans are a real payoff for home gardeners (7+ / 0-)

        These days Farmers' Markets sell so much good produce and so many varieties that many veggies are hardly worth the trouble.  But beans is where there are untold riches in the seed catalogues  that you never see in stores or even Farmers  Markets and they can be picked constantly for eating.

        My favorites are Rattlesnake beans, which I think here in Northern CA should be planted later, say in June, and among other pole beans I love Trionfo Violetto, a purple Italian pole bean available from several sources.  I love Romano types also, especially Helda and  Smeraldo and Roma II.  For shelling beans try Coco Rubio (works well early) and especially Tongues of Fire, aka Horto or Dragon tongue, also cranberry beans aka borlotto beans.  The best early beans are Provider and Cherokee (a yellow bean).  I recommend for catalogues and on-line sales Vermont Bean Co, Park Seeds and Seeds of Change.  There are things you can plant around the beans, or plant squash in front of them.

        The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

        by Mimikatz on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:29:04 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  the U-pick farms up here (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          grow a lot of cranberry beans.  I absolutely love them, and always get a couple of messes each summer.

          "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

          by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 09:48:27 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  I live in the home of Blue Lakes beans (7+ / 0-)

    In Lake County, California. And they grow very nice here, as long as one gets heirloom seeds. The name isn't trademarked or copyrighted anymore, so if you get modern seeds called "Blue Lakes" they could be anything.

    There used to be large canning operations here in the early part of the 20th century, but the beans are no longer commercially grown here. All he have now are walnuts, pears and wine grapes.

  •  Thanks...I love beans. (13+ / 0-)

    Growing them, eating them - and sometimes looking at them...

    My favorites for looking are Jacob's Cattle. They are gorgeous mottled maroon and white.

    I could literally live on beans, squash, corn, and sweet potatoes.

    Yeats said it pretty well:

    I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
    And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
    Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,
    And live alone in the bee-loud glade.
    Sounds pretty good to me.

    "In other words, if we bust our butts, there's an even chance things will get better; and if we sit on our butts, there's a major chance things will go completely to hell". --- G2geek

    by Lorinda Pike on Wed Feb 15, 2012 at 07:06:11 PM PST

  •  Any beans that grow well without too much sun and (5+ / 0-)

    in foggy conditions?  I found that snow peas did well, but I don't know about beans.

  •  Great diary. (5+ / 0-)

    The only bone I have to pick with you is about your opinion of Ky. Wonders. To me they have the best green bean flavor of any bean; the Mexican bean beetles seem to share that opinion since they will leave all the other varieties alone if they can feast on Ky. Wonders - at least in my garden.

    But Mountaineer half runners are my next favorite - prolific, good flavor, and hold up to canning also.

    For bush beans, we have been growing Jade for several years. It is good picked small for haricort verts but are also good when picked at the regular size.

    We are growing greasy beans this year for the first time and I am really looking forward to trying them.

    We have also grown Eden beans. They are a flat podded pole bean and take only about 3 minutes to cook. Great flavor but not very productive - which is okay with me since as you can tell, we grow a lot of beans. They freeze okay - not great. But then I don't like frozen beans that much. Beans and beets are about the only thing I still can, but I just don't think frozen beans have that good a flavor.

    Musica is long, flat pole bean that a friend of mine grows and they are also good.

    Most people around here (TN) grow McCaslins. They are early, productive, and good, but to my taste not as flavorful as Ky. Wonders. Also, they don't seem to be as tasty to the bean beetles so they are prettier than Ky. Wonders.

    Can you grow field peas in the Pacific NW? That's a whole different diary. Pink-eye purple hulls are my favorite and I have a saying "A man who grows purple hulls will never go hungry" because they are so very prolific.

    Thanks for getting me in the mood for planting.

    You can't scare me, I'm sticking to the Union - Woody Guthrie

    by sewaneepat on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 05:34:14 AM PST

    •  I do like Kentucky Wonders (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      sewaneepat, bablhous

      As I mentioned...I've grown them many many times.  It's just that they are one of about 4 varieties that seem to be the only ones easily found in retail marts, and there are many others kinds out there.

      I've eaten bushels of Kentucky Wonders, though.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:33:43 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Tongue of Fire (7+ / 0-)

    I got some of these from Johnny's and will never be without them. They do well in a variety of conditions (come to maturity in my challenging White Mountains short-season microclimate here), make excellent shell beans, can be eaten sooner too, but the shell bean phase is the very best.

    The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich as well as the poor to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. - Anatole France, 1894

    by beverlywoods on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 05:49:35 AM PST

    •  I got some heirloom (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bronte17, akeitz, bablhous

      "yard long" red pole beans from Johnny's a few years ago (now save seed for the next season). LOVE those things! You don't even really notice them growing up a bean teepee until all of a sudden you see all these very long red things hanging down - some are indeed 3 feet long, which is enough to chop up for a dinner side dish, one bean per person! Highly productive at that rate, plenty to blanch and freeze if you want to preserve. I prefer to preserve by drying, but haven't yet tried to cook and dry these rather than just dry the beans on the vine. They're mostly fleshy bean pod rather than seed.

      They turn dark green when cooked, very tasty and kind of crunchy if you don't cook them too long. Tough to eat raw (which is almost invariably what happens to my peas and asparagus before they ever get to the kitchen). Seeds are smaller than Navy beans, but if you plant enough to let some dry on the vine before frost (finish off in bundles from a rafter) they're a good addition to a hearty 7-bean soup all winter. I save some of the dried pod as well to add to my powdered dry vegetables for use as soup stock bouillon/thickener. Along with sun dried tomato powder, and powders of leeks, green onions, beets, celery, carrot and garlic. A tablespoon of that per half-gallon of water (plus fresh herbs of choice and salt at the end of cooking time) makes fine broth for veggie or bean soups.

  •  Great for fixing nitrogen, remediating soil (6+ / 0-)

    Another benefit of beans...

    (Also on my list of nitrogen fixers to plant: Alfalfa, Clover, Goumi, Blue Wild Indigo, Mesquite (invasive if not handled right), Red Alder, Black Locust (also good for firewood, sticks), Fenugreek, Duckweed Fern) - thoughts on energy, the environment, and society.

    by barath on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 06:37:23 AM PST

    •  Was going to mention that about the Nitrogen (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, bablhous

      I have trellis on one end of my 8x8 garden facing south at a 45 degree angle that I normally used for cucumbers, I see it as conserving space too, using vertical area. I only got few "messes" of beans owing mostly to the heat/drought here in Texas, but it did make a late season comeback, kentucky wonder. Gonna try a couple others this year. Will have to give half runners a chance sometime, but already ordered all mine.

      Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber. ~Plato

      by marko on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:09:55 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  We don't grow bush beans........ (5+ / 0-)

       ....too much stooping to pick. Pole beans only for us, and on a fence too, no teepees. Some years, adjacent plantings allow me to attach pliable pruned branches to the top of the fence, and bend them over to make a trellis you can walk through, and pick beans in the shade!

    Best, HH99

    Compost for a greener piles?

    by Hoghead99 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 06:46:23 AM PST

  •  We planted purple yard-long beans---- (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, bronte17, jack 1966, bablhous

    last year. They grew fast, were incredibly productive of flowers and paired, 20-25" pods that were as fat as fingers. Very showy: long purple pods hanging among broad green leaves; white flowers perched like butterflies.

    The pods were so big, it took almost no time at all to harvest a meal for a family and friends: a bundle of "sticks" two feet long and 8" diameter. We did them up in butter and home-grown garlic.

    They were tough, tasteless, and ( would guess) had the same nutritive value as a mess of sticks with butter and garlic.

    My favorite in terms of flavor is Nickel. We eat them in abundance in summer, and then enjoy them pickled (along with golden Soliel beans) the rest of the year.

    Don't forget to use a proper rhizobial starter for beans and peas any time you are planting in an area that is new for them.

    Dear Ayn Rand fans: Please, would each of you just go all John Galt, immediately? Thank you.

    by CitizenJoe on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:00:57 AM PST

  •  Mexican Bean Beetles keep me from loving my beans (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, bablhous

    My garden was a cow pasture for years prior to me turning it back into a garden.

    As a result, I struggle to grow beans due to the pesky Mexican Bean Beetles.  My attempt to grow Garbanzo beans was a disaster.  They ate them down to the stalks before I got a single bean.

    I only get one or two rounds of beans before they are decimated by this pest.  I have tried organic pest control products but don't like that as it will kill my friendly bees, wasps and other friendly bugs that pollinate my blooms.

    I didn't grow any beans last year to try and minimize the pests but they were still present.  They attack other plants too but the squash plants are strong enough to allow them to have their share of the greenery.  The beans get eaten alive.

    Going to try some marigolds and other flowers to attract some MBB eating friendly insects this year so we'll see how that goes.

    Anyone else have any suggestions?

    You can bomb the world to pieces but you can't bomb it into peace - michael franti

    by FarmerG on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:10:05 AM PST

    •  I find the benefits of some sevin dust (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      DawnN, Joieau, bablhous

      used per label instructions are hard to argue with.  You should see or read about what the brown stinkbug infestation that came over with Chinise made goods is doing to organic farmers back east.

      The bug has no predators here, and its population is exploding (I'm now seeing them here in Oregon).  They will eat just about everything that grows in a typical vegetable garden, and the organic methods of control are pretty ineffective, especially on any commercial scale.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:54:06 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I cook up some (4+ / 0-)

      Beyond Nuclear hot sauce every year from habaneros and Thai hots, that is honestly way too hot for humans to handle, even as mostly water. Strain out the pulp and put it into jars for keeping and an old Windex spray bottle (labeled with skull and crossbones). When the slugs, larvae and beetles start showing up on leaves I spray thoroughly. Except for the greens - beer traps work better for those slugs. Have to repeat after every other rain and need to not spray at all for a couple of weeks before harvest, but I haven't lost any whole crops to bugs...

      •  I use something quite similar to spray (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joieau, bablhous

        the tassels and leaves on my corn at the first observation of aphid clusters.  I add a little dish soap to make it stick better.

        "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

        by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 11:42:47 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Some pests lay eggs (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          in the soil (my biggest enemy are those ugly Japanese beetle larvae - yuck!), so I try to turn the beds early when I can. That will expose some larvae (they won't be active in cold ground), if you see them you should do something. I spread wood ashes on the turned clods. Which works out well in other ways, this red clay needs some balancing anyway, and I don't add high nitrogen fertilizer (donkey dung/hay from a friend's barn that's been cooking all winter) until closer to planting. For some reason the ashes keep beetle numbers way down during the growing season. Don't know exactly how that works, but it does.

          Has your growing zone changed with USDA's new map? Mine has, but I saw it coming years ago - never once in 20 years seen it freeze in May, though old zone had our last freeze date May 10. Go figure. Have a peach tree that volunteered out of the compost bin a couple of years ago, it might set fruit this year. If it does, I'm planting more!

  •  Every Democrats should grow a victory garden (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joieau, bablhous

    My mother has a garden full of cabbage that she have grown during the winter, you can start the tomato inside and they can be transplanted  before it get too hot

  •  Our pole beans were lousy and late last year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, Joieau, bablhous

    We used one of those blinkin' stoopid little "grow bags" and put the poles up in that.  Man, it took FOREVER for those beans to get growing.  Our neighbor planted her poles in the ground, not a grow bag filled with soil, and her beans were early and luxuriant.

    I like green beans.  In the winter I use frozen French beans from Trader Joe's.  I steam them in a steamer basket set over a small frying pan until just crisp, empty out the little remaining water, then toss in some virgin olive oil, basil, and a little freshly ground black pepper.  They're delicious.

    That's interesting about blanching and freezing instead of canning.  We got rid of our freezer umpteen years ago, although we have fridges upstairs and downstairs.  I'm sure anything would be easier than canning.  Wish I'd paid more attention when my mother was alive and doing it, but in those days I still had a job, and canning seemed like too much work.

    "Religion is what keeps the poor from murdering the rich."--Napoleon

    by Diana in NoVa on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:29:45 AM PST

    •  I freeze beans, corn and greens (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joieau, bablhous

      They taste so much better and preserve their texture better when you freeze them.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:39:42 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Electricity can be iffy here, (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Diana in NoVa, bablhous

        so I don't freeze much. Used to can, but that's a lot of hot work in the hottest part of summer, and not at all 'energy efficient' even though I've taken to doing it out on the grill the past few years. For what little I do can, mostly sauces, jam, fruit butters and pickles.

        What I have 'discovered' is drying. Built myself a solar dryer out of salvage wood and windows a few years ago, and love it lots. It sits on a barrel with a plywood tabletop on the south facing front deck right outside the kitchen. I harvest, come in and clean/wash the bounty, blanch if necessary, then fill up drying trays. On a good day it doesn't take more than 4 hours for most things, tomatoes will need a couple of days to get dry-dry. Half-drying is fine, then you can re-hydrate in marinades for extra flavors when you cook. But half-dries have to be refrigerated or frozen to keep for more than a month or two. Dry-dry foods will keep basically forever in any old sealed container, no boiling or sealing necessary. And they shrink a lot, so don't take up much room. Still have a cabinet full of dried foods from last year's garden, and just ground up my powders for bouillons, flavor blends and table salts. Nutrition-packed stuff, vitamins are preserved better than with canning.

        As a for-instance, I got a couple of bushels of tomatoes out of my garden and a friend's garden last summer. I canned 4 quarts, froze 8 quarts (in bags - they stack), half-dried another few quarts and dry-dried the rest - about a bushel and a half of Romas and Abe Lincolns. Now tomatoes are mostly juice and seeds, and those plus skins are waste (though we drink the juice, happily). Make good compost. Once that 1.5 bushel were crispy-dry I could fit it ALL into a single 2-pound coffee container.

        We consumed about half through fall and winter to now, I powdered the remainder last week because I finally used up the powder from the year before (great on/in everything). Basically, ~3 pecks of tomatoes ended up as powder that filled one 6-ounce spice jar. And that'll keep me in powder for about a year.

        •  down south (0+ / 0-)

          you can dry green beans and they are called leather britches.  
          Neat idea about the big beans, just hulling them.  
            I want to start a garden at my new house but i have read that rototilling  is bad on you soil.  Thinking of covering it up  with a plastic tarp to let the top stuff die off and start small with a shovel and lots of soil amendment things.
            I pickled green beans years ago.  And canned some too.
          thanks for the link.   trellis is the way to go.

    •  Grow bags are good for potatoes. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      You can roll the sides down when you plant and roll them up as you fill the bag with dirt to cover the stems.

      I just buy organic potatoes and use the ones that start to grow as seed potatoes.  Works great.

      Grow bags didn't do well for tomatoes, though.

      The scientific uncertainty doesn't mean that climate change isn't actually happening.

      by Mimikatz on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 10:16:23 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I can tomatoes, apple sauce and have done beans (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      although I need a set of weights for my pressure canner if I can't find a place to get the gauge checked.

      Blanching and freezing is easy, but I prefer the taste of canned  beans.

  •  Gonna go start some rattlesnakes (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, bablhous

    Thanks for reminding me that they stand up a little longer down here in Florida.

  •  3 cheers for half runners (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, bablhous

    I grew up eating them, and we always saved stock for the next year.

    My dad also hoarded "red stick" beans, which were another half runner type...very meaty beans, tasted like a cross between a true halfrunner and a kidney bean.

    I live in the big city now (Dallas), so no heirloom beans for me.

    Minority rights should never be subject to majority vote.

    by lostboyjim on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 07:53:25 AM PST

  •  Beautiful, inspiring diary ... thank you! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cv lurking gf, bablhous

    Tell me.  Have you any pictures?  I'd love to see your trellis, as support seems to be one of my struggles in the garden ...

    Deer.  It has seemed so futile to work a garden, only to have critters come destroy it in a blink.  I'm determined to try again this year.

  •  Thanks for the low down on beans! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, tonyahky

    We'll have to look into those greasy beans, sound delicious :)

  •  Ed Hume's Scarlet Runner Beans are my fav! (4+ / 0-)

    Thanks for the inspiring diary! I am so glad that spring and summer are on their way.

    My tee-pee trellis made from four 12' rebar poles, bound together with wire at the top, and with a wire maze between the top of the poles for additional vine support.

    I plant five bean seeds at the base of each pole and before long, I have a mass of vines with gorgeous red flowers that turn into delicious fresh green beans. We eat the beans all summer long, then I let some mature and dry on the vine, resulting in a lot of beautiful dried beans that can be cooked or saved for future planting.

  •  I keep thinking about growing stuff here, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    akeitz, bablhous, tonyahky

    or rather I should say fantasize. Veggies have been hard; elephant ears, bananas, bougainvillea, now those do so well as to be horrible invasive pests. I do have a few pepper plants, and herbs, especially Thai basil, do well (the Thai basil and some parsley are coming up between the bricks currently).

    Have you tried Seed Savers and Baker's Creek?As I said, I do fantasize.

    "The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed, and hence clamorous to be led to safety, by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary." H.L. Mencken, 1925

    by cv lurking gf on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 11:50:10 AM PST

  •  I'm a fan of the haricots. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, tonyahky

    I know they're supposed to be a one-crop and then done, but I find I get a steady supply for at least a month and of course I sow successively.  I've gone off pole beans a bit. No matter how high I make the supports grow, the vines always outgrow them. And grow...and grow.  No mattter what variety I pick it seems I'm waiting into September before I finally start getting some pods. And once they come, they mature mighty fast. Skip a day picking any? Next day I'll find tough pods the size of dill pickles!

    For what do we live, but to make sport for our neighbours, and laugh at them in our turn?'' ...

    by QuaintIrene on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 11:56:55 AM PST

  •  White half-runners (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, bablhous

    almost the only one my mom would grow and pretty much the standard here in my part of WV.

    She liked her beans to actually have beans in them, too; better to cook and made better "leatherbritches".

  •  Last year (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Keith930, bablhous, tonyahky

    We grew Blue Lake bush beans and Rattlesnake pole beans.
    The Rattlesnakes started bearing about a week sooner and finished about two weeks later than the Blue Lakes, but we got very good yields of both and still have  6 or 7 lbs. in the freezer.
    This year we'll certainly do the Rattlesnakes again, and will try some other variety as a challenger.
    I did real simple trellises made of wired together Sumac poles which should have been a little taller.

    •  they will easily grow to 9 ft (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bablhous, tonyahky

      but if I had to choose between stooping or climbing a ladder to pick beans, I'll stoop.

      "By your late thirties the ground has begun to grow hard. It grows harder and harder until the day that it admits you.” Thomas McGuane, Nobody's Angel

      by Keith930 on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 03:39:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How about a shout out for Lima Beans! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bablhous, tonyahky

    I love 'em.  I've been eating them for years from the Farmer's market and have tried growing them for a few years.  

    Last year however was heartbreak -- some creature ate the tops off the first planting, then another creature ate the planted seeds before they could sprout.  I'm stumped on how to prevent that this spring but maybe row covers?  Hot pepper didn't work last year.  Ironcially my Mother Stallard cranberry beans from Seed Savers were left alone and I had a great harvest of them, wonder why the pests only wanted limas?

  •  Thanks for this diary--my family still grows (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    little greasy beans. For some reason, the strain we grow doesn't do very well when it's planted with corn--you have to grow them on a trellis. They seem to be immune to most diseases, though, and it seems that the bugs don't really like them. I suspect that this is because of the "residue" these beans have on them--if you go out in the garden to work with them in the morning before the dew burns away, or on a wet day, it will actually make your skin itch mildly for a few minutes.

    Our strain of little greasies originally came from Harlan county, KY. My grandmother, now 96 years old, got her seed from her mother. So we've been raising these a long time.

  •  last summer (0+ / 0-)

    I lived in an old farmhouse, and these guys planted potato's in the land lady's field.  We had very little rain and the bugs stripped the plants.  I thought HUH? how do you get potato's with no leaves,  well they are good spuds despite it.  I have never grown spuds but will buy local ones next year.  yum

  •  Thanks Keith (0+ / 0-)

    I've hotlisted this one.  You might want to share it with Saturday Morning Garden Blogging and Sustainable living.

    I'm in the NW too, Everett, WA.  I'm trying to get a garden wedged in among my other tasks this spring.

    “that our civil rights have no dependence on our religious opinions, any more than our opinions in physics or geometry.” Thomas Jefferson

    by markdd on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 08:53:32 PM PST

  •  Where (0+ / 0-)

    does one buy greasy bean seed? I prefer a fuzzless bean, an Italian pole type if I can find one.

    I love diaroes like this. I am glad you are doing them!

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site