Featured Cooking Bean: Brown Tepary

This year I am on a mission to cook and eat as many different varieties of beans as possible. This is another in a series about my observations about those beans.

Imagine there was a bean that was drought tolerant and higher in protein and fiber than many other beans. And, what if it came in different varieties that are suited to growing in most any climate? While we’re at it, let’s make it tasty and versatile in the kitchen. You would think if there were a bean like that it would be widely known and grown, wouldn’t you? Well, a bean like that already exists, and there’s archeological evidence it was grown thousands of years ago. It’s called a tepary bean, and it is making somewhat of a comeback here in the 21st century.

Brown Tepary beans

Brown Tepary beans

The tepary bean, Phaseolus acutifolius, is native to the U.S. southwest and Mexico. According to legend, the bean got its name when Spanish explorers to what is now New Mexico asked a group of Tohono O’odham people what they were planting. They replied “T’pawi,” meaning literally “It’s a bean.” According to Mother Earth News, the tepary beans have traditionally been planted as both a spring and summer crop, depending on the monsoon rains to give them moisture to germinate and grow.

Brown Tepary beans

Brown Tepary beans

Until fairly recently I had never even tasted a tepary bean. That changed when I cooked up a batch of Brown Tepary beans from Rancho Gordo. I used a pressure cooker to cook them, without soaking first. I cooked them for 18 minutes at high pressure, and let them sit while the pressure released naturally. As you can in the below photo, they held their shape well, staying firm but tender. What you can’t see is how they tasted. The Brown Tepary beans have a rich, complex taste that has a touch of sweetness to it. The sweetness is supposed to be more noticeable in the white varieties.

cooked Brown Tepary beans

cooked Brown Tepary beans

They are so tasty that the Brown and the White Tepary beans are listed on the Slow Food USA’s Ark of Taste. Slow Food describes their flavor as ‘rich and nutty’, and says they are used in traditional southwestern soups, stews and casseroles. In the book Heirloom Beans there are several recipes for tepary beans, including one I plan on trying called Spicy Tepary Bean Dip.

refried Brown Tepary beans

refried Brown Tepary beans

Once cooked, I turned the whole batch into refried beans. To do that, I heated a little olive oil in a skillet then sautéed chopped onions until they were soft. Next I added the tepary beans along with a bit of their cooking liquid, plus some minced garlic, ground cumin and salt. I cooked the beans for about 15-20 minutes, stirring and mashing with the back of a wooden spoon until they were somewhat smooth but still chunky. The above photo does not really do them justice.

tepary bean tostadas

tepary bean tostadas

Some of those refried beans went on tostadas we made. The refried tepary beans have a great flavor and texture, and compared to refried beans made with pinto beans they also have more protein, fiber and minerals. I was so impressed after that first encounter, I knew I had to have more of them, and I knew I had to make them one of my featured cooking beans.

After a little more research I also decided to make a small test planting in the garden. The variety I’m going to grow is called Sacaton Brown. I got those seeds from Native Seeds/SEARCH, and they have a great selection of over 20 varieties of tepary bean seeds. We’ll see how they handle the hot and humid summer weather we usually have here. I also want to try a variety called Blue Speckled. I will be sure and report on how they perform here in the garden.

Brown Tepary beans for eating are available online from Rancho Gordo, Ramona Farms, and Native Seeds/SEARCH. I hope you have enjoyed this review of the Brown Tepary beans. More bean tasting continues here at HA, and I will be back soon with another bean review.

Posted in Cooking Beans | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

Monday Recap: June Swoon

Here at Happy Acres we are swooning about cherries. Well, we are excited about them, but not to the point of fainting. Last week my wife and I made what has become our annual pilgrimage to Farview Orchards to pick sweet and tart cherries. Last year we went about a week later, but this year the cherries were ready earlier and we went while the trees were still loaded. We came back with somewhere over 35 pounds of them, which is a lot of cherries! After pitting, we mix them up with sugar (and Fruit Fresh) until it dissolves and makes a little syrup, then freeze them. The sugar helps preserve the cherries, and when we thaw them for use we drain it off. We spent about 1.5 hours picking the cherries, and another 2.5 hours washing, pitting and processing them for freezing.

sweet cherries before pitting

sweet cherries before pitting

While cherries were coming in, the asparagus was going out. Last Monday was the final ‘official’ harvest of the year. We did chop down a few spears later in the week when we weeded and mulched the beds, and they got added in to the totals. I also applied fertilizer to the beds before we mulched them with straw. The final total for the year was 35 pounds. I can think of very few garden plants that give so much for a relatively small investment of time and money.

final asparagus harvest of 2015

final asparagus harvest of 2015

In other news, since we have a number of radishes coming in, I decided to ferment some of them. I used a mix of Helios, Plum Purple and a watermelon type called Starburst. I sliced some, and cut others into a wedge shape. I packed the radishes in a clean glass jar,along with a few cloves of garlic, and added a brine solution. I started tasting them after a couple of days, and when they taste ‘done’ enough for me I will put them in the refrigerator. I have some daikon radishes that are still sizing up and when they get bigger I will likely ferment some of them too. I’m also looking forward to fermenting some of the kohlrabi later on. I usually just eat them as a snack, and my gut loves them.

radishes for fermenting

radishes for fermenting

We’re getting a steady but manageable harvest of red raspberries now. I’ve been enjoying them for breakfast, at least those that make it in the house. These are a mix of Caroline and Autumn Bliss. I say ‘mix’ because the canes have grown every which way in the bed and I can’t tell one from the other! Not that it really matters, since they both are tasty and productive.

raspberry harvest

raspberry harvest

The blackberries continue to bloom, even as the earlier blossoms are forming berries. The Natchez variety has somewhat elongated fruit, and they are starting to size up. Apache and Natchez usually start ripening in July around here, though a few were ready by late June last year.

young Natchez blackberries

young Natchez blackberries

Blueberries will be ripe long before the blackberries. The below photo shows Chandler starting to turn blue. It’s one of our favorite blueberry varieties, with large and flavorful berries. That’s another reason for me to get excited.

Chandler blueberries starting to ripen

Chandler blueberries starting to ripen

Some of the leftover onion plants I set out for scallions are starting to bulb up. That’s a good sign, since it means the other plants are doing the same. I am hoping this will be a good year for onions, since I think I have finally selected some good varieties for our area. The scallions are all mixed up too, but I think the ones in the below photo must be Super Star (aka Sierra Blanca). They went in a quinoa and black bean dish my wife made last week. I guess they are really young onions at this point and not scallions any more.

young onions

young onions

Readers may get tired of seeing photos of Simpson Elite lettuce, but I never get tired of eating it. This lettuce holds up to our late spring heat and rarely gets bitter or tough, at least not in the partially sheltered environment I give it where it is shaded from the afternoon sun.

Simpson Elite lettuce

Simpson Elite lettuce

I got the sweet potatoes planted last week. Before planting I amended the soil, then formed a ridge with the loosened soil. I set the slips 18 inches apart, then interplanted  lettuce seedlings between the slips. The sweet potato varieties I’m growing this year are Beauregard, Purple and Bonita. I have 28 plants total of those three. I didn’t set out that many lettuce plants though. I wanted to compare some of the crisphead types, so I set about a dozen total of Sierra, Cardinale and Unicum. I also planted a few of the Brown Goldring, which is a romaine type. The lettuce plants should be harvested before the sweet potatoes start vining, and I thank Norma for the idea of interplanting.

sweet potatoes with lettuce interplanted

sweet potatoes with lettuce interplanted

After hosting some nesting chickadees earlier this spring, one of our PVC nest boxes is now being used by a pair of bluebirds. I heard the male out singing almost every day for over a week, and I guess his efforts paid off. Here’s a YouTube selection of what the male sounds like, often described as a chortle. Once they decided on using the box, they didn’t waste any time because the female built the nest in a day. She has laid 2 eggs as of yesterday morning.

bluebird nest with 2 eggs

bluebird nest with 2 eggs

I hope you have enjoyed this look at what’s happening here in early June. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. And thanks to Daphne for hosting this every week!

 

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Photo Friday: June Colors

There are so many colorful things going on around Happy Acres right now I thought I would share some of the images. I’ll start with the color red. The Easy Wave Red Velour petunias are so well named. I’ve got a container planted with this variety in the Wild Garden, and one plant provides a lot of color.

Easy Wave Red Velour petunias

Easy Wave Red Velour petunias

Nearby the petunia some Asclepias tuberosa (aka butterfly weed) is blooming. The orange blossoms are a magnet to butterflies and bees.

orange butterfly weed

orange butterfly weed

A different red is showing up in the form of ripe raspberries.

red raspberries

red raspberries

These purple blossoms are so pretty they could belong to an ornamental plant, but they don’t. Many gardeners will recognize they are blooming potato plants. This is the Purple Majesty variety that also has purple fleshed potatoes.

Purple Majesty potato blooms

Purple Majesty potato blooms

Another edible plant that is pretty enough to be an ornamental is this Red Sails lettuce. The color isn’t as red as the petunias, but it is lovely anyway, as well as being tasty.

Red Sails lettuce

Red Sails lettuce

There’s another another shade of red on our currant bush. The currants aren’t real large, but there are lots of them.

red currants

red currants

Purple is the color of Kolibri kohlrabi. At least the skin is purple, though inside the flesh is white.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

Speaking of whte, the astilbes are blooming, their fluffy plumes brightening up the shade garden.

astilbes blooming

astilbes blooming

Also blooming white is the Snow Queen oakleaf hydrangea.

Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangea

Snow Queen Oakleaf Hydrangea

The big leaves of the Blue Angel hosta are a blue-green color.

Blue Angel hosta

Blue Angel hosta

In the early morning, we have the dew-covered hips on the rugosa rose, which are still green at this point.

rose hip

rose hip

And last but not least we have the yellow flowers of the Cima di Rapa (aka broccoli raab). I let a few plants bloom because they are attractive to pollinators and beneficial insect. I also think they’re pretty.

Cima di Rapa flowering

Cima di Rapa flowering

I hope you enjoyed this look at some of the colors at Happy Acres, and I hope your day is full of color too!

Posted in Photo Friday | Tagged , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Monday Recap: Last of May Brings Firsts

One of the many things I love about growing our own food is that every season has new ‘firsts’ to look forward to. I always look forward to the first asparagus, the first blueberry, the first ripe tomato, and so on. Last week we got our first taste of raspberries. The first to ripen this year is a yellow variety called Anne. I expanded our planting of it this year by setting out three additional  plants, and the canes flowered and set a few fruit. You are probably supposed to pick off the flowers on a new plant, but raspberries are so vigorous I can’t imagine this is going to slow them down very much. They were already potted up and showing new growth when I bought them anyway. The red ones are starting to turn too and should keep us supplied for several weeks.

Anne raspberries

Anne raspberries

Another first came from our little orchard. The North Star pie cherry tree gives us a slightly bigger harvest each year. Last year we got less than a pound from it, but this year the harvest was close to two pounds. My wife handles the harvesting chores for this crop. She hangs pie plates and old DVD’s in the tree to keep the birds away.

harvesting our cherries

harvesting our cherries

We still plan on a trip to a local orchard to pick sweet and tart cherries for freezing, and they should be ready there soon. Until then we will enjoy our own cherries, fresh from the tree.

North Star tart cherries

North Star tart cherries

I had two of the North Star trees planted at my old place, and when they were mature they gave me all the cherries I could eat and freeze every year. I dug up an old photo from 2006 of my wife harvesting one of those trees. It took a stepladder, and several buckets to get the job done that day. And it also called for a good cherry pitter.

Lynda picking cherries at my old farm

Lynda picking cherries at my old farm

Another first came in last week. What’s purple and looks like something from outer space? That sounds like Kolibri kohlrabi! This hybrid kohlrabi has a great flavor and is early too. We enjoyed these first two raw, with a little yogurt tahini dip to go with them.

Kolibri kohlrabi

Kolibri kohlrabi

I made the first cutting of the Senposai greens last week. This F1 hybrid  is a cross between cabbage and komatsuna, and Fedco says the “round medium-green leaves are wonderful in okonamiyaki or for braising.” So I removed the stems, chopped up the leaves and braised them in a little water with some shiitake mushrooms. After 30 minutes of cooking, the leaves were still not exactly tender. I wish I could say I liked the flavor, or the texture, but my wife and I both agreed they were tough and not particularly tasty. We disliked it so much that the leftovers went on the compost pile.

harvest of senposai

harvest of senposai

The large round leaves remind me of collards, but even collards are usually edible after 30 minutes of cooking. It’s possible younger leaves might be more tender, but it seems to me I’d be better off growing komatsuna, or mizuna, or pac choi. All of those are relatively easy to grow and reliably tasty to eat.

large leaf of senposai

large leaf of senposai

On the other hand, the spring planted kale has turned out a lot better than the senposai. I got a nice cutting of the White Russian variety yesterday, and another smaller one earlier in the week. While the leaves aren’t quite as sweet as those that mature in the cooler weather of fall and winter, they are tender and flavorful and I have really been enjoying them this spring. There’s almost a pound of them in the below photo. I also planted the frilly leaf Scarlet kale, which isn’t quite ready for cutting yet.

White Russian kale

White Russian kale

In the ruh-roh department, something has been eating on the leaf amaranth plants, and it isn’t me! I saw what appeared to be striped cucumber beetles on it one day, but a little research now tells me they are pigweed flea beetles. This native pest feeds on pigweed and other members of the amaranth family. The amaranth plants now look like Swiss cheese! I have sprayed with neem oil, and we will see if that slows them down any. I really need to get a taste of this before I decide if it’s worth the effort to deal with the beetles. Covering with row cover would keep them out but it’s too late for that now. And hand picking is difficult since they jump!

pigweed flea beetle

pigweed flea beetle

It’s not a first, but I got another nice cutting of garlic scapes last week. Many of these came from the rocambole types, like Russian Red and Spanish Roja. We’ve been turning some of them into Daphne’s Garlic Scape Salad Dressing, and others into pesto. It’s my wife’s turn to cook this week so we will see how she decides to use them all. Some went in a frittata she made for us yesterday, as did some of our bumper crop of asparagus. Speaking of asparagus, today is the last day we will harvest this year. We’ve gotten over 33 pounds so far this year.

handful of garlic scapes

handful of garlic scapes

On their way to winning the ‘first tomato to the top of the cage’ race are the cherry tomatoes Sungold and Supersweet 100 I planted in the kitchen garden area. Sungold is usually the first tomato to ripen for us too, and it is blooming right about now.

early tomato plants

early tomato plants

I baked up a batch of Moomie’s Famous Burger Buns last week. This recipe never fails me, and I made this batch using 50% Red Fife whole wheat flour. I’m loving this wheat so far, and it made some tasty buns that browned up nicely. I topped them with black and white sesame seeds before baking.

Moomie's buns made with Red Fife wheat

Moomie’s buns made with Red Fife wheat

To close I’ll show off a t-shirt my wife dyed for me recently. She was experimenting with blue and gray colors, and I liked one of her test pieces so much I asked her to make me a shirt with the same colors and sunburst pattern. I love how it turned out!

me in my new t-shirt

me in my new t-shirt

That’s a look at what’s been happening here lately. To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Almost Squashed, Partly Peppered

Last weekend I got the cucumbers and bush squash plants set out in the main garden, and a few of the vining winter squash as well. Before planting I amended the bed with a custom mix of nutrients I made up based on the soil test results. Each 4ft x 45ft bed in the main garden (there are 10 of them) got over 15 pounds of ‘stuff”, plus additional amounts of compost and worm castings mixed in. I spread it over the bed, then used a Mantis tiller to lightly work it in the top couple of inches of soil. The mix includes five pounds of pelleted chicken manure, eight pounds of bone meal and rock phosphate, one pound of kelp plus smaller amounts of sulfate of potash, borax, sea salt, manganese sulfate, zinc sulfate, and crab shell.

fertilizer mix in Tubtrug

fertilizer mix in Tubtrug

I set the bush squash plants two and a half feet apart in the row. That gives them a generous ten square feet each of growing space, and I have found they will usually use every bit of it unless they suffer a premature demise from bacterial wilt, squash vine borers or some other untimely fate. I added about a quarter cup of Happy Frog Fruit and Flower (5-8-4) and some Mykos mycorrhizal inoculant in each planting hole. After setting the plants, I mulched with sheets of newspaper and covered them with straw.

bed of bush squash plants

bed of bush squash plants

I’ve been using this planting density for several years now, though I’m always looking to tweak things as needed. I’m also a big fan of the newspaper/straw mulching. If the soil and weather are plenty warm like they are now, I go ahead and mulch as I plant, unless it’s too windy. The winds were fairly calm for this planting and I had no trouble spreading the paper. I planted quite a few different varieties, including White Bush Scallop, Striata D’Italia and Romanesco zucchini, the yellow straightneck Enterprise and Multipik plus the crookneck Gentry. I also planted three each of Bush Delicata and Gold Nugget. At the end of the row  I planted the vining Honeyboat Delicata. I will train it towards the nearby fence so it can ramble up there.

squash plant after mulching

squash plant after mulching

For the cucumbers I am using concrete remesh cages that a previous owner left for us in the garden shed. I am guessing they used them for tomato cages, and they are about 18″ in diameter. The remesh makes a good trellis for the cucumbers to climb on, and the big openings make it easy to reach in to harvest the cukes. I set two cucumber plants per cage, usually the same variety in one cage. This year I am growing Green Fingers, Summer Dance, Calypso and Dasher 2. I mulch these with newspaper and cover with straw just like I do my tomatoes.

cucumbers inside remesh cage

cucumbers inside remesh cage

At three corners of the garden I am planting vining winter squash. The fourth corner has the gate to the garden, so I can’t plant anything there. I want to make sure some of our favorite varieties have plenty of room to ramble, and they can climb up the fencing that runs around the perimeter of the garden. This year I am planting Seminole, Thai Rai Kaw Tok and Violina Rugosa at the corners. I am hoping to avoid the disaster I had last year when I planted too many of the vining cucurbits in one bed and many of them got crowded out.

Thai squash planted in corner of garden

Thai squash planted in corner of garden

I’m still working to plant the rest of the main garden. I got a good start on peppers yesterday, but I need to finish planting them plus eggplant and sweet potatoes. And I still have one bed to cleanup and fertilize before I can plant the rest of the vining squash and the melons.

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , | 10 Comments

Monday Recap: Memorial Day Edition

Today in the U.S. we celebrate Memorial Day as we pause to remember those who have died while serving in the armed forces. I have vivid memories of my childhood neighbor Ronnie Dempsey who joined the Marine Corps and went to Vietnam. He signed up for his second tour of duty and was on board a helicopter on a rescue mission when it was shot down by enemy fire. The helicopter crashed, rolled down a mountain and burned. All aboard were killed, including 20 year old Ronnie. The neighborhood where I grew up was a pretty close knit community, the kind where everyone knew each other, and we all grieved when Ronnie died.

Easy Wave Red Velour petunias

Easy Wave Red Velour petunias

My parents called the holiday Decoration Day, and always went to the cemetery to put flowers on the graves of relatives. That’s a tradition I choose not to continue. I’ve always been a fan of giving flowers to the living while they can enjoy them. I also like to grow them for the wildlife around us. The Wave petunias I started back in February have been blooming for several weeks now. I really like one I’m growing for the first time this year called Easy Wave Red Velour. I’ve got one plant growing in a container in the Wild Garden, where it’s surrounded by the blooming catmint. The bees love the catmint, while the petunias will be visited by hummingbirds and butterflies.

spiderwort with honeybees

spiderwort with honeybees

Not far from the petunias and catmint there is some spiderwort blooming. The spiderwort is attractive to butterflies and pollinators, and every morning when the flowers open I can find a few of our honeybees working the blossoms. The plant in the above photo is a light purple variety given to us by our friend Barbara. I managed to catch two bees working there, which was sheer luck since they were flitting around from blossom to blossom and I wasn’t sure any of the photos would even have a single bee in them, much less two! I’m guessing they are collecting pollen from them.

green onions and green garlic

green onions and green garlic

The extra onion plants I set out for scallions are ready for harvesting now as needed. I pulled a few one day along with some of the green garlic that is now bulbing. The main garlic crop will be ready before too much longer, with the bulbing onions not far behind. The scallions are a real treat and I’ve been using them whenever and wherever possible. The green garlic is almost gone.

mizspoona leaves

mizspoona leaves

I cut some of the larger leaves from the Mizspoona I’ve got growing in the greenhouse bed. I stir-fried it with a few mushrooms and green garlic for a side dish one day. The flavor is much like mizuna, though the leaves are a bit more substantial. I’ve got Mei Qing pac choi growing right next to it that will be ready in a few days. I’ve also got Senposai ready in the main garden area. I’m still looking for ideas on how to use this relatively new hybrid green that is a cross between cabbage and komatsuna. I’m thinking the big leaves would work for cabbage or lettuce roll recipes. I know they could be used like kale or tronchuda too. I grew it a couple of years ago but I don’t remember exactly what I did with it.

head of Baby Oakleaf lettuce

head of Baby Oakleaf lettuce

We’re still enjoying the Baby Oakleaf lettuce for salads and such. That in the above photo went on some tepary bean tacos I made last week. That head weighed right at five ounces, which is a nice size for the two of us.

Red Sails lettuce

Red Sails lettuce

The big head of Red Sails lettuce weighed twice that of the Baby Oakleaf. It has really colored up nicely in the cold frame bed. It’s destined to star in a wilted lettuce salad tonight.

Thai Rai Kaw Tok winter squash

Thai Rai Kaw Tok winter squash

It was my turn to cook last week and my wife requested I make a batch of the Butternut and Spinach Lasagna Rolls. So I cooked up another of the Thai Rai Kaw Tok squash for the occasion. One night I cut off slices and roasted them for a side dish, seasoned only with salt plus a little olive oil. This squash has so much flavor it doesn’t need a lot of help. This one weighed a bit over eight pounds, and was still in great shape after being in storage since last fall.

inside of Rai Kaw Tok squash

inside of Rai Kaw Tok squash

I took the rest of the squash and cut it into larger pieces, then roasted them until tender. I scooped out the flesh and pureed it for the lasagna rolls. I had enough puree for the lasagna, plus I froze another pound of it for later use.

lasagna rolls

lasagna rolls

The lasagna rolls make a good meatless main dish. They’re stuffed with a mix of spinach, ricotta and Parmesan cheese. I combined the squash puree with some green garlic to make a sauce that’s spooned over the rolls before baking. The recipe calls for shallots but green garlic is what I had and that’s what I used. This dish freezes well too, and we froze the leftovers. The Thai squash gives it a great flavor, but butternut or any other winter squash would work well too. We just happen to have the Thai squash, and I believe there are still two more in storage.

Cracked Wheat hearth bread

Cracked Wheat hearth bread

Lately I’ve been experimenting with a couple of heirloom wheat varieties. I bought five pounds each of Red Turkey and Red Fife wheat, plus a bag of bolted Red Turkey flour. Bolted flour is a whole grain flour that has had some of the bran sifted out, and is similar to a high-extraction flour in that regard. I ground up some of the Red Fife wheat in our Nutrimill and used it to make a cracked wheat hearth bread you can see in the above photo. I did a better job with the slashing and proofing of this loaf than my last free-form bread, and it didn’t have any blowout issues. I will no doubt have more to say about these two wheat varieties as I continue to experiment in the days and months ahead.

Asparagus Mimosa

Asparagus Mimosa

Last but not least I need to mention the lovely asparagus my wife has been harvesting daily for us. I took some of the fattest spears to make a batch of Asparagus Mimosa yesterday for lunch. Unlike many vegetables, the biggest asparagus spears are usually the most tender, though we eat all sizes of them. We’re up to over 28 pounds of it this year, and I’m not tired of eating it yet. We have another week to harvest it before we clean up the bed and let the spears turn into ferns that will replenish the roots for next year’s crop.

To see what other gardeners are showing off and cooking up, visit Daphne’s Dandelions where Daphne hosts Harvest Mondays. I’ll be back soon with more happenings from HA.

Posted in Gardening | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Planting the Pole Beans

I managed to get the pole beans planted last weekend before the latest rains came. I’m using the same trellising method I’ve used for the past few years. I have metal t-posts I set about ten feet apart, with bamboo poles set in between the metal ones for extra support. Then I run a poly rope down the top of the posts to keep the trellis from sagging. I’m using 59″ Hortonova trellis material, which has a 6″ by 7″ opening. It is secured to the posts and poly rope using coated Twist Tie Garden Wire. These ties are reusable, and I’m on my third season for some of them.

pole bean trellis

pole bean trellis

I have about a 40 foot run of pole beans, and I can get the trellis up in an hour or less. This setup has served me well the last few years, and has held up to the loads of vines and beans without falling over or sagging. You can read more details about how I put up the trellis here: Trellising the Pole Beans.

bamboo poles are set between the metal ones

bamboo poles are set between the metal ones

This year I have three of my favorite snap beans planted (Fortex, Musica and Gold Marie) plus a new purple podded one called Trionfo Violetto. I’m also trying two Appalachian heirloom beans called Lazy Wife Greasy and Robe Mountain. For dry pole beans I’m growing Cherokee Trail of Tears and Good Mother Stallard.

Cherokee Trail of Tears beans coming up

Cherokee Trail of Tears beans coming up

The soil was plenty warm when I planted the seeds, over 65°F, but then the weather turned cooler. I was concerned some of the seed might rot before it came up, but I noticed this morning some of them are starting to sprout. The forecast calls for the weather to warm up to more seasonal temps, which means highs near 80°F for the Memorial Day weekend. That should help get the seeds up and growing. It’s rained almost every day since they were planted, two inches in all, so at least I didn’t have to do any watering to get them up! Once the beans are up a few inches tall I will weed around them and them mulch with straw.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , | 8 Comments