Thursday, October 17, 2013

A hill of beans

Every Spring I pull out a drawer of my fridge which contains all of our seeds saved from previous gardens as well as some varieties that have been bought since they were interesting.

Every Fall, I restock the drawer as the harvest comes in, and dispose of seeds (via compost or the chickens) that the variety was disappointing, the harvest blighted, or the plant no longer wanted.  

This Spring/Fall cycle was no different this year.  In the late Winter, I began drooling over seed catalogs marking them for what I wanted to try out.  Maps were made, and overly extensive plans were made, and the drawer came out.  Big Rainbow, Polish Linguisa, Yellow Plum,  Provider, Zucchini, and Delicata, Rainbow, Winter Red, and Black Seeded Sampson all made their appearances.  Some were originally chosen by pictures, others by their names, some made their way via a farmer's market or friend.  However they got there, only the true favorites stay year after year.

One of the perennial favorites have always been Provider green beans.  They do just that, provide.  While others in my neighborhood think their Kentucky Wonder Poles are wonderful are missing out.  My one neighbor was proud of her Kentucky Beans.  She thought it was wonderful that she got some in her freezer and some for dinners.  She gave me a handful of her beans.  Tough, gone to seed, fibrous...this was all I could think when I tried one.  I hadn't the heart to tell her she'd picked too late.  Too often people go for size and not taste (think baseball bat zucchini when one should pick them at or before rolling pin size.)

I grow two crops of green beans each year.  The first one I pick 2-3 pickings off of them and then let them go to seed.  When I stop picking, I plant a second crop right next to the first.  This way, I have seed saving insurance.  Most likely, the second crop will come up, be harvested, fill the freezer and pantry, and be excellent as dry beans and seed, but always the first crop is primarily for seeds.  I select first the plants that have the earliest beans.  Then I select for bug resistance and tenacity through summer drought and rain forest conditions we have here (as it it won't rain for a month and a half and then it rains all day every day for a month.)  I select too for ones that won't stop blooming.  

Over the years I have also been able to figure out by looking at the seeds, which ones to keep for future generations.  The ones that are speckled are only good for eating as beans.  They grow plants that bugs love to devour.  The little brown seeds make stringy plants that shrivel up and are non-productive except as compost.  What I look for are plump purple seeds, which turn into plump maroon seeds when they are fully dry and ready for storage.

So now as I pick the end of my second crop of beans at their dry stage for seed and storage, I find that all two crops from a 20' row of beans add up to is a small hill of beans; a promise of baked beans and growth in the future.

Linked to Simple lives Thursday

1 comment:

  1. Remember that day we picked all those providers at my place -- straddling long rows in the heat... I think B sat under a tree and read. Smart..very smart.


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