Today may be the last warm day in Michigan until next spring. It was also dry, so today was the day that I finally harvested my heirloom dried bean crop.
I learned a couple of things this year:
(1) Plant earlier than the Summer Solstice if you want all the beans to have enough time to grow to full maturity (i.e., to the rattling around fully dried state within their pods while still on the bean vines)
(2) Bean plants grow MUCH better in the garden with full sun than in single pots with morning shade on my deck. I can just hear you are saying "Well, duh!, of course they will!" :-) My solution will be to have more garden space next year to devote to my dried beans than I had this year. I had so many extra seeds of different kinds that I just gave it a try on my deck to see what would happen. One big plus however to my deck garden was that the bunnies and groundhogs did not bother to climb the steps onto my deck to eat the baby plants as they emerged, which was a huge problem in our community garden, no matter how we tried to keep them out!
(3) Shucking the bean pods to get the bean seeds into a jar to store for the winter will be time consuming. However, it is the sort of mindless job that can easily be done while also watching the World Series, or some such thing on TV (which along with Wimbledon is about the only time I do deliberately turn on the TV).
Lesson #4 is that I am definitely feeling the lack of (or need for) a digital camera so that I can show you my pretty beans. In fact, while watching a recent baseball game, I realized I was actually paying attention to the ad about the camera aspect of the iPhone. Now Diana actually watching a TV ad and paying attention to the content is a HUGE FIRST - I pay attention to things like that. :-)
Here are the varieties that I grew:
Cherokee Cornfield pole beans (a mix but they are mostly white beans)
Kwintus snap pole beans
North Carolina $44/bushel pole beans
Ohio Kickapoo pole beans
Little Italian Yellowring beans
Cooville PawPaw pole beans
Gialo Anelino Rampicante
Ohio Cutshort or cutthroat
Potawatamie Rabbit beans
Unnamed - looks like a blackeye pea (may be Fagiolino dolico veneto)
We got them from Ann Arbor's Project Grow seed exchange and also our local FreeCycle community.
The 62 heritage tomato plants that we grew in our community garden are now finally done, pulled up and in the compost pile today. As the remaining tomatoes are not too pretty, they'll be made into yummy vegetable juice, our own variation on something like V-8 juice tonight.
My husband also showed me the wood today that he got from our local FreeCycle community that he'll be using to make additional shelves in our basement to hold all of our canned foods, our seeds, plus organize all of our food processing equipment and supplies. It feels great and the house smells great as we are busy making our very own homegrown "fast food" for this winter.
Oh I forgot, yesterday I finally dug up some of the herbs I want to keep in a sunny window throughout the winter and got them in a pots. I have 2 curly parsley plants, a robust basil plant, some rosemary, thyme, spearmint, chives, and one small volunteer impatiens for some added color. My sage will be good for several months outside but maybe I should also dig up a small clump of that, too, so that I always have enough fresh sage to make the Italian Butter Bean Soup (see yesterday's post).
Back to Fall like temperatures and rain tonight and tomorrow. I'll bet the next time we come close to a sunny 80 degree day in lower Michigan will be April.
What did you grow this summer and put away for winter?
Diana Dyer, MS, RD