There are few beans which such a memorable story. In 1838, the Cherokee people left their homeland in the southeastern US and relocated to Indian Territory in what is now Oklahoma. This was as a result of the "Indian Removal Act" which was enacted in 1830 and resulted in the relocation of a number of Native American tribes, including the Cherokee nation.
|Cherokee Trail of Tears Sign|
Technically, relocation was "voluntary"; in reality, not so much. Thousands of Native Americans died during the journey due to such factors as starvation, exposure & disease - hence, the Trail of Tears. The "Cherokee Trail of Tears" beans are said to have made this journey. The seeds were given to Seed Savers Exchange in 1977 by Dr. Wyche, an ancestor of the Cherokee people who made this arduous journey. No matter how many times I hear the story, I still get choked up when I think of the suffering these people went through. I am so glad that this bean is a winner in the garden & on the plate because with a history like that, I would probably give it space in the garden just for posterity sake.
|"Cherokee Trail of Tears"|
Up next is another bean that I tried for the first time last year and absolutely LOVED - "Golden of Bacau", a yellow heirloom Romano bean from Bacau (where else?) in Romania. This bean was awesome! It produced huge, bright yellow, flat, tender pods. The beans are both stringless and extremely tender, even when the beans started to swell in the pods. And when I say they were huge, I mean HUGE - I had pods that were 1" wide and 12" long, with most averaging about 8"! But, of course, one of the most important factors is taste. One word - YUM! The beans are mild & slightly sweet. I steamed & then pan-fried them with some caramelized shallots & I couldn't get enough.
|"Golden of Bacau"|
My peas did spring up quickly, but they were still growing & not even flowering yet by the time the beans came up. The competition from the huge pea vines significantly impacted the growth of the beans. They struggled, right from the beginning, with less than stellar growth. I finally ripped out the pea vines in the middle of July (they hadn't even completely finished but I didn't want to lose my beans) and the bean vines perked up a bit & really started growing well.
|Beans in 2013|
A Couple of Weeks After Pulling out the Peas
I planted the seeds 3" apart, in 2 staggered rows that were also 3" apart on either side of a trellis. This is the spacing that was recommended in my edition of Mel Bartholomew's original Square Foot Gardening book and it worked fine the year before when I grew Kentucky Wonder pole beans. I'm thinking that such close spacing for pole beans would significantly contribute to the lack of air circulation.
Of course my bean nemesis, the Japanese beetle, didn't help the situation. Every year they swoop in & start nibbling on my pole bean leaves (interestingly, they have never been interested in the bush beans). My only control for these is to flick them as I see them into a container with soapy water.
So this year, I am trying a different method. On the north side of the bed, I placed 2 trellises, 12" apart. I sowed the beans 8" apart (this was the spacing recommended on the seed packet) in 2 staggered rows 4" apart under each trellis.
When I planned my bed layout, I oriented the beds so that they run east-west - this way, the beds 8' length lies on the north side. To get the best use from the space, my plan is to place tall, trellised beans on the north side and bush varieties on the south side. In the past I have only used one trellis & planted the rest of the bed with shorter crops. But ideally, I would love to use 1/2 the bed for each - so that is what I am trying this year by placing the 2 trellises on one half & growing bush beans on the other half.
So that's it for the pole beans. Now on to the bush beans - I am only growing one variety, "Contender". I really like this bean - it is just a very good overall green bean. It produces good sized beans that are stringless, tender, tasty & the plants are very productive. This will be my third year growing them.
|"Contender" Bush Beans in 2012|
And on a sad note, a second cucumber plant is now wilting.
|Wilting Suyo Long Cucumber Seedling|
|This Beetle is Tiny - My Finger is for Size Reference|
Till next time...☺