End of Season Review - Beans
I grew several new varieties of beans in 2015, both fresh & dried. I also grew fava beans but these will be covered in a separate post.
For fresh beans, I grew Contender (bush, snap), Oceanis (bush, filet) and Gold Marie (pole, yellow Romano). Dried beans included Cherokee Trail of Tears (pole, black bean), Walcherse White (bush, navy type bean) and Vermont Cranberry (bush, cranberry bean...obviously!).
This bed contained peppers on the left and (supposedly)
two rows of Vermont Cranberry & Walcherse White on the right
|Eye spy a bean plant munching slug....|
We did, however, have coolish weather in early June, so I have a feeling that part of the problem may have been soil temperature and some varieties were simply more finicky than others. I had purchased a soil thermometer in the spring, but didn't think to check the temperature before sowing the seed - perhaps the soil was not sufficiently warm and the seeds rotted. I’m fairly certain that this was one case where lack of irrigation was not an issue as we had quite a bit of wet weather at the time. In fact, I was rushed when sowing the seeds because it kept raining.
I haven’t cooked with either the Walcherse White or Vermont Cranberry beans yet so can’t comment on flavor, but with soup and stew season in full gear, it won’t be too long before they end up in the kitchen.
Overall not a good dried bean year. For comparison, in 2014 all of the bean varieties developed bacterial brown spot (BBS), so the vines were pulled early & many beans were tossed, but I still harvested 820 grams (1.81 lbs) of Cherokee Trail of Tears from the same 8 sq. ft. – 60% more than in 2015 which was disease free (for this variety anyhow).
|Cherokee Trail of Tears|
Cherokee Trail of Tears, shelled
Now on to the fresh beans. I mentioned that Oceanis had poor germination - have a look at this photo taken in June:
This 2' x 4' spot was planted with Oceanis on the left & Contender on the right
I didn’t end up substituting any other variety for these. The beans that formed were left on the plants until dried – I’ll be using them for seed next year & hoping for better results.
|Vermont Cranberry (left), Oceanis (right), Oceanis dried pods (top)|
The Oceanis beans were not included in the tally as they will not be eaten, but used exclusively for seed.
As is evident in the table, the most bountiful bean variety this year, by far, was Gold Marie.
Gold Marie beans alongside a few Padron peppers
Malformed Gold Marie Beans
The fresh bush beans didn’t fair that well this year either. Contender has always been a good producer, even when hit by disease, but I placed them beside the favas, which ended up shading them for a good chunk of the day.
Contender Bush Beans
Contender was pulled when an unknown disease took over the plants
Overall Impressions & Plan for Next Year
Not a stellar year for beans by any means. Other than insufficient watering, one factor that may have reduced the dried bean harvest was that I was much more lax in keeping the vines picked. Last year, in an effort to keep ahead of the BBS, I picked the pods as soon as they looked mature, but were not dried out yet. This year, I waited much longer to do that first picking of mature and partially dried pods.
The good news is that it looks like I was right when it came to the BBS - the Golden of Bacau seed was definitely the originator of that disease. Not a trace of it in the garden this year.
I will be giving most of the bean varieties I grew in 2015 another go next year using seed I saved from this year’s planting. The only exception will be Gold Marie, which will be dropped. The harvest totals were impressive, but the quality just wasn't there. I also didn't like the 7 day glut - I would prefer a harvest that extended over several weeks.
I want to give Golden of Bacau another shot. I LOVED this variety. The seed house where I originally purchased them no longer sells this variety (perhaps due to BBS issues?), so I’ll be searching for an alternative source.
I have been tinkering with the spacing between seeds for a few years, going from 3” to 8” (when I was short on seed last year) to this year’s 4” spacing. Even though my yield went down from last year, I will maintain the 4" spacing in 2016 as I believe that inadequate irrigation was a bigger culprit when it came to overall yield.
And lastly, now that I have a soil thermometer, I will be checking the soil temperature before sowing to ensure that it’s in the preferred range for germination.
So a few changes in the bean bed next year – and high hopes that these translate into a much better harvest.