"The tragic reality is that very few sustainable systems are designed or applied by those who hold power, and the reason for this is obvious and simple: to let people arrange their own food, energy and shelter is to lose economic and political control over them. We should cease to look to power structures, hierarchical systems, or governments to help us, and devise ways to help ourselves." - Bill Mollison

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Full of Beans Part 3 - The Three Amigos

...and to continue my ramblings about beans I thought I might share a few thoughts on some of our pole varieties. Among the new additions to our garden this past season were Purple Podded and Rattlesnake pole beans. Even with spring conditions conducive to bean planting ours got off to a slow start but come August they were growing like gangbusters, surprising us with a decent amount of dry beans by fall. Luckily, the weather graced us with an extended summer without which we may not have been as fortunate.

I planted a 55' row comprised of the aforementioned two plus my old favorite, Kentucky Wonder. We strung a tall trellis of fencing wire down the row and planted the beans on each side. For whatever reason many of them, especially the Rattlesnake and Kentucky, had to be replanted numerous times due to poor germination. I even waited extra long to plant this year, making sure the soil was warm and the rains had passed. Of the three, I was most impressed with how the purple beans turned out, especially considering they were stuck at the shady end of the garden and took the longest of the three to produce a sizable bean.

I also grew some of the Rattlesnakes up my tomato cages, planting about three per tomato plant. That worked out quite well and was a great way to obtain a couple more buckets of (un-shelled) beans from the garden. They even helped hold the tomatoes up a bit...sort of.

In the end, Kentucky Wonder was my worst performer, normally it's my best. For more years than I can remember we have been saving their seed and growing these beans in a somewhat shady location in another garden plot. However, this year they were granted a prime location in the main garden. I almost wonder if the sun was too much for them, while this is highly questionable I'm at a loss as to what may have caused their less than usual beaniness.

Something I did notice this summer was how harsh the sun was on many of our plants, even burning and drying some of the leaves...and our garden is pretty shaded as it is. The eggplants, although they put out a superior product, looked less than lovely because of this and many of our brassicas also suffered from the dry leaf issue only recovering after the weather had cooled. Fewer aphids on the cole crops and a whole lot of ladybugs helped make up for the ugliness, that was nice for a change. Each year is so very different from the last. I suppose these challenges and occasional frustrations are what help make gardening such an interesting experience for the two of us.


Stefaneener said...

Interesting comments about the sun. It always seems to be something.

I had to go back and double check. Yes, you said a 55 FOOT row. Hahahah. I laughed and laughed. That's so much space it's incredible. Enjoy, and we'll see how next year's beans do.

Heiko said...

I've never had much luck with pole beans (maybe should try equator beans instead... or should that be Czech beans...?). Maybe that's what it is, they don't like too much sun. The dwarf varieties are much easier to look after and give decent crops for me.

Mr. H. said...


Sometimes in the spring when I have to plant the garden, or in the summer when it needs to be weeded I laugh and laugh also...hysterically that is.:)

The sun can be brutal at times. I still remember the year I decided to be smart and mulch all my tomatoes with straw and grass clippings. Two days later all the lower leaves had dried up from the sun reflecting off the light colored mulch. I eventually figured out that if I threw a little soil over the top of the mulch it would prevent that issue.

Mr. H. said...


I like to grow the pole beans and especially peas because all of our garden areas are strung with tall deer fencing which provides an excellent support for the legumes.

I think equator beans would be of the coffee variety and I wish I could grow them. Actually runner beans are an equator type beans as well and I think that I have the Czech beans covered with my favas.:)

As far as I know all beans like the sun but I am going to be growing more dwarf varieties next year. My new favorite pea that I just discovered this past season is a dwarf/bush variety...Afila Tacoma. I think Stefaneener grows a similar variety in her garden. I hope you are staying warm.

It's me ...Mavis said...

Kentucky wonders are my favorite as well... okay... have many more bean installments are there? :) I hope you plan on posting your "useful gag gifts" (I think)... I'm already looking for new idea's for next years gifts. Have a very Merry Christmas Mr. & Mrs. H.

WeekendFarmer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
WeekendFarmer said...

(had to delete ...so many typos: )

Year to year is so varied...it is a humbling experience. Nothing is for granted and I don't feel I am in control. I take whatever is given to me in thanks.

Love your posts on beans. I think I will follow your route and grow some beans for seed. 55' wow!! You will need more grand kids : ).

Happy holidays!

Mr. H. said...


There might be one more beany post but I am pretty sure nothing I say will sway you on the Kentucky Wonders...of course there are those Kabouli beans that I have yet to mention.:)

I might do a post on the families "gag" gifts, but not until after Christmas.

Mr. H. said...


Please don't worry about typos when commenting here, it makes me feel better about all of my own grammatical blunders.

You are so right, we really are not in control when it comes to anything involving nature...even grand kids.:) If I am graced with any more little helpers in the garden I suppose I will have to start growing more bush beans as the pole beans are just too tall for them to reach. One has to keep their work force happy.

el said...

Wow, who knew Idaho was such a sunspot! I've experienced sun scald on tomatoes before; it's a weird phenomenon. Actually, all of life outdoors is a bit fraught for the tomatoes, and they like life in the greenhouses much more. But beans. Unless they can develop a parthenocarpic bean, then, outdoors it is, with all its problems.

The greenhouses are honestly the only area of gardening in which I feel I have a sense of control. Hah! Maybe I should put up a 3rd greenhouse, or maybe a 4th...

Mr. H. said...


I was just telling my wife the other night that when I am a little old man my dream is to have a huge heated greenhouse in which to doddle away my remaining years...it has to be in a sunny spot as well.:)

LynnS said...

Mike, I'm wondering what your humidity level was, wondering if you weren't also having a problem with a lack of humidity and increased sun. For the life of me, I can't figure how beans would be intolerant of sun, esp when you are growing in a somewhat dappled sunlight. What about a trial next year, growing the KY beans in 2 spots?

This year we switched off of pole beans and grew bush Contenders as our main bean crop. WOW..... Let me point out, our veggie garden gets full sun. Still, we have always grown pole beans in full-sun Zone 6b/7a and have grown 5-6 diff beans (my fav being Half Runner, but we've also grown KY Wonder). Last year we had above average rainfall and less humidity. Normal humidity in July is oppressive, bet 70%-95% depending on the time of day....that relative-humidity thing, you know.

Mr. H. said...


Honestly, I have no clue if the humidity was a factor or not. I know our average is fairly low, around 65%, but am not sure what it was this summer. You might be right about the humidity being an issue? The sun was extra harsh though, my poor eggplants and brassicas were a testament to that.

I will be growing beans in numerous locations next year for sure. I have no doubt that my tomatoes will stink next year and the beans will rock...that is how it always seems to go. I love it though, every minute of it.:)

Anonymous said...

I have been suitably impressed with the purple wonders each year too. Have you ever tried keeping/using them as a shell out bean? I wonder because, despite loving the look of them in the garden, I can't say as I'm all that impressed with purple on my dinner plate (goes for the maori potatoes too!).



Mr. H. said...


Yes, we use the majority of all our beans as shelled dry beans. I find that they really do have subtle differences in flavor when cooked and really enjoy a pot of beans with a variety of different types in it. I am a huge fan of purple potatoes though.:)

Oh! I just looked up Maori potatoes -
http://www.organik.co.nz/maori_spuds.html - I like what I see.:)

Related Posts with Thumbnails