Friday, November 14, 2008

a-z: beans

Camie is not a big fan of green beans. Won't eat them, she says. So I'm keeping the beans under control and going with only four varieties: Isar (Johnny's #2491), which is a yellow French bush bean; and fortex (#34), which is a classic pole bean. Third variety is fava beans, Windsor (#2141), which I've never eaten before, but seem big and delicious and I'm anxious to try them.  Fourth is soybeans, Butterbeans (#104), for some delicious edamame. These are also a bush bean. I may add on some dry beans later on.

Timing: I'm going to sow seeds after danger of frost has past and soil temp is above 65 degrees. I could start them indoors before that, but they grow so fast once in the ground that I'd probably only gain a few days to a week at most, and starting indoors requires some significant labor. For fava beans, they are planted when the peas are planted -- first thing in the spring and possible late in the summer for a fall/winter crop.

My rows are 30" accros, so I'll plant the bush beans (the Isar) in rows across the bed, 5 or 6 inches apart, 16 inches between rows. These need to be planted in succession because they need to be harvested about every day to prevent toughness.

The pole beans will be planted using a trellis system, comprised of (3) - 8' 2x2 @ 7.5 ft. on center driven 2 feet into the ground, with a 2x2 cross piece at the top attached with a galvanized nail (drill hole to prevent splitting). In reality, any number of trellis systems would work, but this is the one I'm planning on now. The idea is to get these up in the air so the beans grow straighter, faster, and take up less ground space.

I will put the trellis down the middle of the row, and have one row of beans on each side. Untreated twine will extend down from the trellis crossbar to each bean vine, making a sort of "A" shape. At the end of the season, the plant and the twine will go in the compost pile. One advantage of the "A" frame is that it can be easily covered with plastic to make a mini-greenhouse and extend the harvest of the pole beans past the first frost a ways.

An alternate trellis would have one row of beans down the middle of the bed with one trellis on each side. Twine would extend from the trellises down to the bean plant, making a "V" shape. This wouldn't give you as many bean plants (only one row instead of two), but would make harvesting easier as gravity would help the beans hang down from the outside on the "V" frame rather that from the inside of an "A" frame.  But space is limited, to I'll likely stick to the A-frame style and just deal with the slightly increased difficulty of harvesting.


Hilary said...

Ahhhh Camie and Green of the greatest duels of all time...glad to see she's still sticking to her guns.

Michael Farnworth said...

This deserves a story... when Camie was little,, about 3 or 4 years old, we were over eating at the Ingoldsby for dinner. Brad, Camie, Hilary and Marie were eating at a small table next to the grown-ups. During dinner we heard a "small wretching" and there sat Camie with her pile of regurgitated green beans next to her plate.
I guess I was to blame because of my own childhood food issues. I had made a big deal of eating all your food. Bless her heart... Camie did try!