Monday Recap: Pulling Up, Winding Down

I think it’s safe to say the summer vegetable garden is slowly winding down. And by September, I am usually quite ready for that to happen. The bush dried beans are all done for now, so I pulled up what was left of the plants, and my wife and I spent some time last week shelling out and picking through the beans. Growing dry beans is somewhat challenging in our area with the hot and humid summers that we typically have. The beans tend to rot or even sprout in the pod before they are ready to harvest. This year I grew three bush varieties: Jacob’s Cattle, Whipple and Hutterite Soup. I also have pole dry beans growing but they won’t be ready for awhile longer.

Jacob's Cattle beans

Jacob’s Cattle beans

Jacob’s Cattle is a tried and true bean that has done well for me over the years. It’s also sometimes called Trout bean or Appaloosa, no doubt due to the spotted markings on the beans themselves. This year the beans were quite variable in color, with many not spotted at all, but that shouldn’t change the way they taste or cook up. I devoted a ten foot section of row to each of the three bean varieties, and Jacob’s Cattle yielded 26 ounces of dried beans.

closeup of Jacob's Cattle

closeup of Jacob’s Cattle

A newcomer here that sounded interesting to me is the Whipple bean. It’s popular in Oregon’s Willamette Valley, where the growing conditions are no doubt quite different than they are here in the Southern Ohio Valley! The beans themselves are fat and almost round, and purplish-red in color with some white spots. Whipple yielded 16 ounces of dried beans. They look like a nice meaty bean that should be good for soups, salads or side dishes.

Whipple dry beans

Whipple dry beans

Hutterite Soup bean is a small greenish yellow bean with a distinctive eye. It’s slightly larger than a Navy bean, and is an heirloom that was cultivated by the Hutterite religious group. I got my seed from the Seed Savers Exchange, who got their seed stock from a Hutterite colony in North Dakota. The beans are supposed to be quick cooking, and make a creamy, delicate tasting soup. They wound up being the least productive for me, yielding only 14 ounces. It’s enough for a nice batch of soup though, and I look forward to tasting it whenever it gets to be soup weather around here. Growing dried beans is perhaps not the most productive use of garden space, but it is fun to try some of the many types that are out there. And of course the beans are good to eat too!

Hutterite Soup bean

Hutterite Soup bean

Both sweet and hot peppers continue to ripen. We’ve been enjoying the sweet ones a number of different ways. The hot ones will mostly be dried, roasted, frozen or made into hot sauce, so I tend to let a bunch of them ripen before I harvest and process them. In the below photo there’s the big red bell pepper Big Bertha along with Topepo Rosso, Jimmy Nardello, two orange Hot Happy Yummys and two Early Sunsations. A White Scallop squash also came in that day and appears to have photobombed the peppers!

assortment of peppers and squash

assortment of peppers and squash

Another project I’m working on is saving some of the o/p tomato seeds. The recommended procedure calls for squeezing out the seeds into a container and letting them ferment for a few days. The fermentation removes the little gelatinous sack that encases the fresh tomato seed, and helps kill many seed borne diseases. I sometimes add a bit of water if the mix seems dry. You can eat what’s left of the tomato too, so it’s not all wasted.

squeezing out tomato seeds

squeezing out tomato seeds

After a day or two they will develop a layer of mold and start smelling pretty much like a rotten tomato! In the below photo the white patches on the surface are mold. I won’t go into all the details here, but I generally follow the instructions in my favorite seed-saving reference book Seed to Seed by Suzanne Ashworth. After fermenting the seeds are rinsed, strained and then dried before packaging up.

fermenting tomato seeds

fermenting tomato seeds

The slicing tomatoes seem to have taken a break for a bit. There are still plenty of the small fruited types coming on for us though. In the below photo we have Black Cherry, Juliet, Green Tiger and Golden Sweet.

mix of tomatoes for salsa

mix of tomatoes for salsa

They all went in a batch of salsa I made, using our tomatoes, onions, garlic and cilantro. Instead of peppers I used a splash of homemade hot sauce to give it a bit of zip. I often make salsa using the smaller tomatoes, and I love the mix of colors and tastes they bring.

fresh salsa

fresh salsa

Another project this past week involved making soap. My wife and I made two batches, one a Lavender Bastille and the other our Flower Child Coconut Milk. You can blame me for the soap names. We don’t sell our soaps but I do like to give them descriptive names. I need to share the recipes here since I know there are a few soap makers out  there and these are two of my favorite soaps at the moment. Needless to say they smell so much better than the fermenting tomato seeds! That’s the Bastille soap on the left in the below photo, and the golden color comes from a bit of honey in the mix. The sugars in the honey help increase the lather, and the color usually fades to a light tan as the soap cures.

Lavender Bastille and Flower Child Coconut Milk soaps

Lavender Bastille and Flower Child Coconut Milk soaps

I didn’t bake any loaves of bread last week, but I did make a double batch of Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread. I often make a double batch of pita bread, because once the oven is hot (and the pizza stone I bake them on) it just makes sense to take advantage of it. They also freeze well, and that’s what we do with the extras. It’s so easy to pull one out of the freezer and let it thaw a bit before eating. They’re almost as good as new that way, and definitely better than store-bought ones.

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread

Whole Wheat Sourdough Pita Bread

That’s a look at what’s happening here in early September. To see what other gardeners are harvesting, cooking and preserving, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays every week. And thank you Daphne for helping to create this great community of garden bloggers!

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15 Responses to Monday Recap: Pulling Up, Winding Down

  1. norma chang says:

    The Jacob’s cattle bean and the whipple bean have such pretty colors. Do they taste different? Do you use them as dried beans only or do you use the young beans as well?
    norma chang recently posted…Harvest Monday, September 8, 2014My Profile

  2. Daphne says:

    I used to love growing dried beans. But you are right for the space the yield isn’t all that much. But it is nice to eat things from the garden over the winter. And bean soups were always a favorite. Your pita bread looks so delicious.
    Daphne recently posted…Harvest Monday 8 September 2014My Profile

  3. I so love all the flavors of dried beans out there. I don’t really have room for dried beans, but I often try a new to-me bean just so I can sample a new bean flavor.

    Good for you that your tomatoes are still producing! That would be awesome. I can’t get my tomatoes to grow that long a period of time.
    crafty_cristy recently posted…Harvest Monday Labor Day EditionMy Profile

  4. Will - Eight Gate Farm - NH says:

    I’m very interested in your progress/results for dried beans. In ounces it doesn’t sound like much, but really it’s a lot of little beanies when you think about it. Keep us posted on how they cook up and taste. The pita bread looks yummy, too.

  5. Michelle says:

    Wow, it must get quite humid if your beans sprout on the vine. I love growing dry beans also and there are so many varieties it makes it difficult to decide what to grow. This year I’ve got 5 varieties, 3 bush and 2 pole…

    You had some beautiful harvests this week. And I like the names you give to your soaps, it’s very creative. 🙂

    • Dave says:

      Our usual humid weather plus about a week of ‘popup’ showers that kept the pods wet made for sprouting seeds. I should have harvested before they were completely dry and finished them up indoors, but didn’t think it would be such a big problem. Now I know better! I think the pole varieties are easier here because they are up off the ground and not as likely to rot or sprout, but some of the nice varieties just happen to be bush types!

  6. Susan says:

    I am very new to growing dried beans so even though they take a lot of space, I am finding it all very exciting. I want to try more and more varieties – but very small yield for the space involved. Your peppers are always so perfectly ripe, I am envious. Mine tend to start rotting if left too long on the plant so I pick them half green / half red just to get something!
    Susan recently posted…Harvest Monday: September 8, 2014My Profile

    • Dave says:

      I have had a few that rotted while on the plant. I think our summer showers have been hard on them, as water sometimes sits on the peppers and causes them to rot. It seems that the bigger peppers (like the bells) are more prone to that here.

  7. Thomas says:

    The beans look beautiful! I will have to order some Jacob’s Cattle and Hutterite from Seed Savers this winter. I meant to grow some pole dry beans this year but having to erect yet another trellis in the garden was a deterrent for sure.

    Also, I’ve been admiring your soaps for a while now. I harvested a good deal of lavender to dry this summer and am hoping to make some soup later this fall. Please do share your recipes and any helpful links!
    Thomas recently posted…An Early September HarvestMy Profile

  8. Margaret says:

    Those beans are just beautiful – I can’t wait to have enough space to grow a few mare varieties. You are right that they do not produce much for the garden space they take up, but they taste SO good compared to store purchased dried beans (that have been sitting there how long??). And your soaps look equally beautiful…I can just imagine their heavenly scent!
    Margaret recently posted…Harvest Monday – September 8, 2014My Profile

  9. I am looking forward to hearing about your Hutterite bean soup. That is a dry bean that I have not tried. Well, actually, the only dry beans I have grown are Scarlet Runner and Black Cherokee. I didn’t plant the Cherokees this year, and the Scarlet Runner beans have not set one bean pod yet, despite a plethora of blooms.
    Lou Murray’s Green World recently posted…My southern California garden in AugustMy Profile

  10. Jennifer says:

    What beautiful beans! I’ve only ever done fresh eating beans, rather than dried beans. That sounds so nice for making soups in the colder months. If you stored them in glass mason jars, or something similar, I suspect they would look decorative on the shelf!
    Jennifer recently posted…~ harvest monday September 8 2014 ~My Profile

  11. Barb Mason says:

    I oh so hope you share the soap recipes. I love to make soap.

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