Coming back from vacation is always exciting if you have a garden. Plants have grown and there is always lots to harvest. The yard long beans do not disappoint! I picked the first of my Orient Wonder beans to put into a quinoa and tofu stir fry. Just two beans weighed 37 grams and one was almost 20 inches long (50 cm)! I quickly stir fried them with lots of other veggies and tofu in a bit of sesame oil. The taste was good but I think I am going to try to pick them when they are little younger. There are not a ton of beans on the plant but when you have 20 inch long beans you don’t need too many to make an adequate meal!
I have been more than impressed with my pepper plants. My mostly green harvest today was interrupted by a few red jalapeño peppers. Today I picked 1466 grams of jalapeños which is about 3 pounds!
The other week I was able to make a few more Quick Refrigerator Pickled Jalapeño. I made 5 jars so this is plenty for my monthly consumption. Today’s harvest is going to be pickled and then canned! A gardening goal of mine this year was to grow enough to can so I could enjoy pickled jalapeños all year long. I wonder how many jars I will get with my 3 pounds.
Yesterday I was greeted by the most delicate, beautiful purple flower on my bean trellis. This variety of bean is called Orient Wonder (Vigna sesquipedalis). As beautiful as this flower is, it doesn’t last long before it gives you two little beans… which grow, and grow and grow… into 18 inch long beans! It is so nice of nature to give me something beautiful and edible at the same time!
Last year my most prolific bean was the Blue Lake Runner Bean. My niece and I built two bamboo trellises in between our pineapple guava plants. The beans took over and wrapped themselves around the guava plants as well. Here is a picture of when we first planted in April, then a picture of the beans sprouted in late April and then finally a picture in September of 2013. You can’t even see the pineapple guavas!
I also made an 8 foot trellis to plant Scarlet Runner beans, saved year after year from my dad’s garden. These flowers of the Scarlet Runners are so beautiful and attracted many pollinators but I ate a whole lot more Blue Lake beans than Scarlet Runners. Here is a picture of the trellis which I made partially to screen the compost from view, the second picture you can see the Scarlet Runners in mid-season and then a picture of them in September on the left.
I also planted several varieties of bush beans and staked them up using short Mulberry branches. I planted Purple Queen Bush Beans and Yellow Wax Bush Beans. I like planting bush beans because they give you a harvest earlier than the runner beans. I also tend to plant these in my raised beds so they give back to the soil. They also are a faster crop than runner beans. Bush beans tend to put out lots of beans at once and then the plant is done whereas you can harvest from runner beans all season. It is nice to have a mix in your garden. I harvested 4.21 pounds of bush beans and 15.25 pounds of runner beans in 2013.
After the 2013 bean season was over, I let the plants die on their trellises. I collected some seeds from the best specimens. Then I cut the bean plant at the base leaving the roots intact in the ground. I chopped the plants into smaller pieces and lightly dug them into the ground. Beans are soil builders. Their roots fix nitrogen into the soil which benefits following crops of heavy feeders. This is why I use the chop and drop method of cleaning up my beans. Plus it is hard to keep up with all the biomass at the end of the summer so dropping them in their place helps free up space in my compost.
This year I decided to move my Blue Lake Beans to the main 8 foot trellis since that was what we enjoyed eating the most. I planted some Scarlet Runners in the front yard because I thought they would be a beautiful addition to my front yard landscape adding color from the flowers and height. However, the beans never germinated so I wont be enjoying any Scarlet Runners this year. I also planted two more varieties of runner beans: Trionfo Violetto and Orient Wonder. I also wanted to experiment with a few beans for storage so I planted the Calypso Bush bean in the back of the yard and California Blackeye Cowpea in my raised bed. Since I am just going to wait for these to dry on the plant to collect and store the beans I tried to put them in places that were out of the way. I think some of the beans I am just getting into the ground way to late so I am hoping I will get some sort of harvest from them before it is too late! Here are a few pictures of what my beans looked like in the garden yesterday:
Blue Lake Runner Beans Calypso Bush Beans
Cowpeas waiting to go in the ground
Orient Wonder Pole Yard Long Beans in the herb garden. Trionfo Violetto Pole Bean climbing up a corn. The corn blew over in strong wind the other day so I am not sure how successful the bean or the corn will be.Trionfo Violetto climbing up Mulberry canes attached to the support cables from the power lines.