Tuesday, November 6, 2018

More beans please!


It’s been a chilly few weeks here – temperatures have been topping out at 6 or 7C (43F) each day which doesn’t really motivate me to get moving on finishing up the remaining tasks in the garden.   There’s still a small laundry list of things to do before the garden is closed for the winter – cutting back the asparagus ferns, digging up dahlia tubers, harvesting the remaining carrots, chard & broccoli and, most importantly, planting out the garlic.

For those that follow along on Instagram, you know we were getting our front walkway redone.  It was a narrow, weedy mess and on the “to do” list for a few years now:

Before

The walkway was widened and we cut back a lot of encroaching growth….what a difference it’s made!  One of those things that you kick yourself for not getting to sooner.

After

There are a few invasives in the bed on the right hand side, between the house and the walkway, that I’ve been trying to get rid of (periwinkle and self-seeded spirea).  I’ll be laying down black plastic topped with mulch & leaving that in place over the next year - hopefully this eradicates them & I'll be able to remove the plastic and plant some better behaved shade tolerant perennials by the following year.

On to the main topic of this post - dried beans!  I grew 5 different varieties this year & harvested a total of 4.5kg/10 lbs of shelled beans.

Clockwise from top:  Calypso, Canadian Wonder, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Wild Goose
Middle:  Queen Anne

The bean vines were pulled a couple of months ago and the pods have been drying in the garage ever since.  I shelled them this past week, which is something I love to do when it’s cold & wet outside – it’s a rather comforting activity.

Cherokee Trail of Tears

My two “must-have” dried bean favourites are the tried-and-true Cherokee Trail of Tears pictured above and the new-to-me last year Canadian Wonder.  Both are so incredibly delicious!  When I cooked up my first batch of Canadian Wonder, I couldn’t help snacking on them as they were cooling in the fridge…with zero seasonings.  They were THAT good - no kidding!

This year, I decided to grow an entire bed of them (my beds are 8’ x 4’).  From that planting I harvested 1.4 kg (3 lbs) of beans - not bad, but not great either.  This may call for an experiment next year on upping the yield by varying the amendments that I use and/or changing the spacing.

Canadian Wonder
They may look like your standard kidney bean, but they are WAY more yummy!

One bean I’m really looking forward to tasting is the blacked-eyed peas, Queen Anne.  These guys have a rather unique looking pod and growth habit compared to other beans, with long skinny pods that point upwards.  I'll have to look over the photos I took this past summer as I'm sure I took one of these unique looking bean plants.

I grew Queen Anne last year as well but rabbits got to the plants and I only ended up harvesting a few pods…just enough to grow a small section of them this year (around 2’x6’).

Queen Anne

Even with this small planting, I still expected a larger harvest than the 136 grams/1 oz of beans that I ended up with...it was a bit of a disappointment on that front.  However, I’m more than willing to grow a shy producer so long as the taste is there.  I’ve separated out the best beans for planting next year and will be cooking up the rest – I hope I like them!

Another variety that is on the taste testing list is Wild Goose, which is a small speckled bean, similar in size to a soybean:

Wild Goose
Most of the beans are white with gray markings
but a few have the reverse colouration - I love those types of oddities!

Just like Queen Anne, I only harvested a small amount last year, all of which went to sowing this time round.  Unlike Queen Anne, however, the yield on this variety was amazing, especially for a bush variety; I harvested 802 grams/1.8 lbs from only 8 square feet of space.

The Calypso beans are gorgeous and, even though I didn’t harvest that many of them last year either, I do recall cooking some up but didn’t take any notes.  I’ll have to do a repeat on that and actually write down my impressions.

Calypso

Next year, I’m actually going to cut down the number of tomato beds from 3 to 2 (gasp!) as I’ve determined that I can harvest more than enough tomatoes for both fresh eating and preserving from just 2 beds, even in a "bad" year.  What will I be doing with the extra bed, you ask??  More beans please!

I had wanted to publish this post yesterday but had a technical issue uploading the photos to my computer.  I'm a day late but will still link up with Dave at the Happy Acres Blog for Harvest Monday, where you can find some truly inspirational harvests from near and far, even this late in the season.

“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things” ~~ Robert Brault

22 comments:

  1. I actually liked your walkway before it was done, it has that cottage garden feel to it, but after seeing the after photo it looks fabulous. It looks very smart and you must be so pleased with it. What a great selection of beans, they're like little beads, aren't they? I find the seeds so tactile. We really enjoyed growing beans when we had the allotment, it's something the whole family will eat so we always grew plenty.

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    1. I had never thought of that but now that you mention it, it sort of did have the old cottagey thing happening. Right now, it looks rather bare with a lot of the surrounding plants dug up but once those invasive buggers are dealt with, I'm looking forward to filling up the beds. Oh, who can resist running their hand through a bowl full of dried beans? No one in my family, that's for sure!

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  2. The beans are lovely! I had heard of other beans called 'Wild Goose' but I've never seen a speckled one. The Canadian Wonder beans are new to me though. I'm also having a hard time getting motivated doing garden work in the cold. I need to get out there today, but decided to catch up on reading blogs until it warms up a bit!

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    1. Ha! It's so easy to procrastinate when the weather is crummy. Apparently there are two types of "Wild Goose" beans - Canadian Wild Goose (which these are) and Mostoller Wild Goose, which look quite different....hmmm - I may have to try those :)

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  3. Such a lovely variety of beans, The new walkway will look great once the beds are planted up and it will soon weather in and look as though it has always been there.

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    1. I can't wait until the walkway does age a bit - I'm not a fan of "new" and much prefer a weathered look.

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  4. Hi Margaret, Your new walkway is very nice. You sure grew a variety of Beans! The weather here is not so nice and does not make be want to work outside! Nancy

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    1. Thanks Nancy :) Ditto on the weather...I'm having to finish up my outside chores in small bits as it's just too cold/windy/wet to spend too much time outside.

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  5. 10 pounds is a great harvest of dried beans. And it's fantastic that Canadian Wonder and Cherokee Trail of Tears do so well for you. I've always thought black eyed pea plants were so interesting, and their extra long bumpy pods are a fun sight.

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    1. Thanks Phuong :) Black-eyed pea plants are really fun looking, aren't they?

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  6. I also liked the cottage look of your old walkway, but the new one is fantastic, what a difference its made. Hopefully no weeding! I've never seen so many different sorts of beans. Mine are still in the greenhouse drying out.

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    1. Yes - less weeding is the goal! And it wasn't even so much weeding but the fact that many of the weeds, and even self-seeded spirea, were impossible to remove from between the pavers. There are so many interesting varieties of beans to try, I find it hard to narrow down to only a few - I seem to say that about a lot of veg!

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  7. I think your new walkway looks very nice.

    All the best Jan

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  8. I am eyeing your lovely haul of beans with a great deal of envy. The rodents got mine this year so I am not planning on growing any next year because I can't bear to feed the beasts again. Your new and improved walkway looks great. How satisfying to check one of those nagging projects off your list.

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    1. It really is so very satisfying! I don't blame you for taking a break from growing rodent food - I have my fingers crossed that the uptick in their numbers is temporary and you'll be back to a full harvest sooner rather later.

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  9. Oh gosh, I saw that first photo of your pathway and fell in love with it--reminds me of an English country garden motif. But the rejuvenated pathway looks great, too, and will be easier to maintain and probably safer, too, right? And holy cats--your bean harvest is so impressive. If I hadn't eaten supper already, you'd be making me hungry. ;-)

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    1. Thanks Beth - I can't get enough of them beans, either growing or eating ;)

      You know, I think that the photo sort of glamorizes the pathway - the bricks look "old" and the weeds look like moss. Up close and personal, it was a different story - brick from the 90's and in the cracks, impossible to remove grass/dandelions/bindweed together with spirea seedlings that seemed to pop up everywhere. Not to mention all the uneven sections that collected water/ice and the rotting wood "frames". Yup - the photo doesn't do it justice...in terms of how bad it was, that is!

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  10. Such beautiful beans! I loved your old pathway!

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    1. Thanks Lisa! Wish I had taken a pic of the pathway sooner...maybe I would have recognized it's inner beauty with all the comments I'm getting ;)

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  11. I love beans in all kinds of soups, stews, and casseroles. Though my favorite beans are garbanzos/chick peas. Have you ever tried growing those?

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    1. Those are a favourite around here too, but I haven't tried them yet as they are trickier to grow - they are on the list though...maybe next year now that I have that extra bed :)

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