Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Oh Beans!

Last Sunday I opted out of the mad holiday rush long enough to sow a few bean seeds. Hours later, it rained. It rained all through the night, at least a foot i think. That much rain usually blasts in sideways, riding in on the scouring trades. But this time the wind was paused for breath and the rain fell steadily in a long, lush, ground soaking curtain.  I'll confess to you that the timing was more satellite than serendipity but the beans, they don't mind either way.

Maui Rain. Thank-you Teresa!

Most of the beans were purchased or traded last season and have been languishing in the refrigerator, waiting for the return of cooler weather. Warmth and humidity kill seeds. The  refrigerator is the only dry, cool place in the house. Bean seeds are large which makes them easy to handle but bulky to store. Harboring those seeds has really been cramping my cheese habit.

I was glad to get them in the ground but as you can see, i have a ways to go.

We eat beans from the garden all year round but the varieties change with the seasons. Lima and wing beans can appear anytime of the year but long beans and cow peas are summertime treats. Snap and shelly beans are harvested from fall through spring.  Winter brings us peas~sugar, snow, and pigeon peas which we enjoy through the springtime months. This winter i am trying out a few new cool season beans for the first time.  Fava beans, pop beans, and runner beans. It probably won't get cool enough here for the beans to crop but i might get lucky. With so many micro zones in this state the best way to find out what will work in your area is to try it yourself.

Crimson Flowered Favas

A dozen Crimson Flowered fava beans will be beautiful even if they don't crop. And yes, i do have a lovely bottle of chianti on standby, just in case.

This is a bean?

The garbanzos don't  look much like beans to me, it will be fun to watch them grow. They were ordered from the SSE yearbook last year and are a type of popping chickpea, something you might be familiar with if you've read Carol Deppe's books. I'm thinking more corn nuts than popcorn and hope i get a chance to try a few.  Carol is planning to offer a popbean through her new company Fertile Valley Seeds this year. The site doesn't seem to be up and running yet. Sign up for her newsletter to receive updates if you like.

Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon is a white runner bean sourced from Baker's Creek. The Aztec Half Runner beans i tried last year never really produced but i'm hoping for better things from Chaco Canyon. Insuk's Wang Kong is a  runner bean that will tolerate warmer temperatures. It's available from Sandhill Preservation. IWK is not an all white bean but the scarlet flowers are stunning and edible, to boot.  Maybe i'll try them next year if CC is a bust.

Clem and Sara's Big Bean

Clem and Sara's Big Bean is supposed to be a bush bean that produces a large, white shelly bean.  They were ordered last year through the SSE yearbook. I have high hopes for this bean! Almost all large white beans are pole beans.  Many folks prefer to grow pole beans (once they get past the trellis issue) because they are easier to pick standing up and because they usually produce over a longer period of time. I prefer bush beans because the wind is hard on pole beans and because disease pressures in my garden usually mean the vines are finished after the first or maybe second flush. Of course with shell beans there is no second flush. And besides, how can you not love a name like Clem and Sara's Big Bean ; )


Isar is a bush bean that will produce slender yellow French filet beans. This bean will probably need to be picked every day which i am willing to overlook because i am a sucker for vegetables that come in unusual  colors. I expect it will be delicious since it is the first bean the slugs have decided to dine on.  If daily picking is not your thing try 'Masai'. It's green, not yellow, but it can go a few days between pickings and has a nice petite bush habit.  Isar is available from Johnny's, Masai from Fedco.

Perona~Off to a fine start

Perona and Perona Verde are both bush shell beans purchased from Sandhill Preservation. They were originally sourced from Spain. Perona Verde is not green. That is all i know. I have no idea why i ordered these beans. Maybe i was in the mood for tapas?

Soissons Vert

I am so looking forward to trying this next bean, Soissons Vert. It's a large, pale green, pole flageolet. It garners the highest praise for flavor. These seeds were also ordered through the SSE yearbook last spring.  By the time the seeds arrived my trellises were full and by the time they finally emptied it was summer.  I didn't want to plant SV during the hot months so i waited.  The beans just look delicious, all plump and shiny. This probably reflects the care and skill of the preservationist as much as the characteristics of the bean. Thank-you Chris.

And finally i have three different peas planted. Peas grow just OK here, even in the winter time, but are so well worth growing when compared to the tired, overpriced supermarket peas.  All varieties from Pinetree.

Golden Sweet

Golden Sweet is a lemon podded snow pea originally from India.  This is not a new fangled yellow podded pea, Mendel himself used it during his pea breeding experiments. I'm looking forward to the beautiful purple flowers as well as the yummy pods.

Cascadia is a newer sugar snap pea bred for the Northwest by Dr. Jim Baggett. It is shorter than my old standard Super Sugar Snap, a plus, and has been bred for resistance to powdery mildew and enation. Now i'm not sure enation resistance is useful in Hawaii but powdery mildew resistance sure will come in handy.

Oregon Sugar Pod or Cascadia? I forgot.

Oregon Sugar Pod II is another shorter, disease resistant vine out of Oregon State University. Wouldn't a better name be Oregon Sugar Snow Pod II? How else to avoid confusing this snow pea with a sugar snap pea? I always pick my first few sugar snaps a little too small. Waiting until the pods are almost bursting yields a sweeter pea in my garden. I wonder if these snow peas are like that, sweeter when they are old and puffy?

There's not much to look at yet but in a few weeks things should be filling in. In the meantime i'm curling up with a few new seed catalogs, trying not to order more beans. I need more space for cheese.


A Kitchen Garden in Kihei Maui said...

What a wonderful selection of beans and peas you've planted this winter! The first of Dec. I planted quite a few of the Soisson Vert seeds you gave me and they are flowering and doing great inspite of the warmer than normal weather. I love the Chacos and I had a small harvest last winter. They're slower to get growing and they don't like the heat but they should do better in your winter climate than they did in mine.

Soisson's were the only beans I planted in the early part of the month so I could save seeds for next year. If you didn't isolate yours and you need more seeds for next winter let me know.

Mr. H. said...

How fun, you have quite the diverse variety there. I hope the fava and runner beans do well for you as they are such wonderful beans. Fava beans are quite adaptable, I would be curious to hear how they grow for you. I just finished reading Carol Deppe's latest book and really enjoyed it.:)

Julie said...

I'm looking forward to seeing some of those Soisson Vert beans in your harvest basket soon, Jane! And i'm glad to hear you are saving some seeds. It's important work with no commercial source available right now.
I'm encouraged to hear the Chacos did well for you. I felt sure runners would perform at least through the winter and maybe into the summer but those Aztec Half Runners were just miserable last year.

Mr. H you have a way with words. Diverse variety sounds so much nicer than obsessive collection ; ) I am most dubious about the garbanzos and the favas but one never knows. I just read a story yesterday about this guy on the Big Island. They told him coffee wouldn't grow at his elevation. He tried it anyway. One of the biggest producers of organic coffee on the island now. Love stories like that.
And love that Carol Deppe, too.

Linda said...

Wow, that is a lot of beans you have to to plant.. I planted beans in the beginning of December, but the horrible weather that been off and on killed most of my seedlings. Your right about how they can't stand the wind. I have about 6 beans ripening now. Can't wait to try my first home grown bean. :)

Julie said...

Yes, it looks like you folks on Oahu have been getting A LOT of rain Linda. Talk about too much of a good thing! Can't wait to see your first harvest ; )

Annelie said...

You like beans, I take it? :)
I'm impressed by the diversity of beans that you are planting. I saw first hand that moisture isn't good for seeds. Had dried giant pumpkin seeds for a week and put them in a zip-lock (I know, what was I thinking?) to store them. A week later they were moldy. :(


Julie said...

It's a lot of beans, isn't it Annelie? But beans are easy to grow and easy to save so it's understandable, i think. Now if i could just figure out how to explain the 17 varieties of carrot seeds i seem to have collected (blush)...