Creamy White with Pink Splotches

We’ve had several nights of light frost already and my beans plants have all turned brown and leaves have dropped.  The french horticulture beans have had it double bad with the grasshopper plague as well.  All the leaves have been completely or mostly eaten and now frost damaged, so I felt it was time to harvest what I could before all the beans got moldy or eaten by mice.  Not really knowing what makes a french horticulture bean ready to pick, I picked every pod with beans inside regardless of the color.

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I read somewhere that these beans are meant for drying and I’ve done that with some decorative beans I grew last year, so that became my plan.  I’m going to need a place to dry them and some kind of rack to lay them out on.  So it’s off to the shop I go.

I gathered the last of the old pea nets for scrap wood and a roll of plastic mesh that was originally destined to line a bat house and set to work building four drying trays.  First things first, the wood needed cleaning up.  The chicken wire needed removing and all the staples needed plucked.  You can’t reuse chicken wire without a steady stream of cussing so I balled it up to go to the transfer station.

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Wear gloves if you ever do this; the wire and the old staples and do a good job of poking and scratching and creating more cussing.

There were six boards each 6 feet long.  A bit of simple yet frustrating math and some workbench chicken scratch later, I figured I could make four trays each 34″ x 15″ (roughly).  I was right.

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Even though the wood was wet from sitting out in the rain all year, I used glue and staples to hold the frames together.  I wasn’t shy with the staples.  The plastic mesh was conveniently 36″ wide (I did check that before deciding on the overall size of the trays, honest).  I used the pneumatic stapler to attach the mesh, but found that the staple drove in the soft wet wood too far and sometimes it would just break the plastic.  So I did a few rounds using the stapler from the office, which worked until I ran out of staples.

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I had to revert to using the pneumatic and simply tilted the gun so the staples would’t go in so deep.  I also remembered to switch to the smaller staples.  Quick and dirty, this job is.

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When I finally was able to lay out the beans, I realized I would need more than four trays.  Insert cussing here.  I also noticed the different colors on the bean pods; green with pink splotches and creamy white with pink splotches.   Just for fun I opened one of each to find different colored beans as well.  The white pods held white beans with pink marks and the green pods held, well, green beans.  I recalled seeing pictures of french horticulture beans all dried up and they were all creamy with pink marks.  I used my ultra sonic scientific deducing abilities to determine that the green pods with pink splotches were, in fact, not quite ready to dry.  Oh well, too late now; we’ll just have to eat them instead.  (more on that soon)

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So I separated them and ended up using only two of the trays I built.  The rest I needed to shell.  Awesome, I needed to spend some time on my butt anyway.  I made a bit of a mess on the deck and in the process I found some white with pink splotches beans.  I’ll set those aside to dry in the house.

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Geoff and I will eat the green beans over the next few days.  It’s a huge learning curve to eat what you have available.  I would love to try to can them, but I don’t have a pressure cooker yet.  I left the two trays of creamy white with pink splotches in the greenhouse to dry; it’s still warm, dry and airy in there.  I might need to bring them indoors soon though.

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Seven Sunny Days

The plane was full. We didn’t care much, though. It’s a quick 3 hour flight to Mesa, Arizona and we had seven warm days to look forward to. Seven days of worshipping the sun by the pool, chillaxing at the shaded patio table with a cold drink and the occasional trip of exploration to the botanical gardens, local walking paths and, of course, yarn and electronics stores.

My idea of a great holiday would be to spend every waking hour either sitting by the pool or on the back patio knitting and reading and drinking cold stuff. Geoff’s ideas of a great holiday is hanging out at the pool or patio in between shopping trips and golf rounds. Our week in Phoenix turned out to be a mix of both. We enjoyed breakfast at the Itsy Bitsy Diner and pizza at the Organ Stop Pizza. The rest of our meals were home cooked with fresh veggies from the Superstition Ranch Market and washed down with cold beer. The shopping took us to Jessica Knits, PGA Professional Golf Store, Bead World, Tri-Tek, Harbour Freight, Ross’s, a book store and a tech gadget on-line store. Two were my picks (one was a drive-by surprise) and the other six were for Geoff (go figure).

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Click on this image to go to the main gallery.

Only once did Geoff and Mom go golfing; I waited in the lounge and knitted a few more inches on my socks I started with the yarn I bought at Jessica Knits. Geoff wore his new shoes and shorts and I snuck a piece of chocolate cake when nobody was looking. (A tasty consolation prize for going along instead of staying on the patio alone.)

Twice Geoff and I ventured off on our own. The one thing we both look forward to while visiting the desert is exploring the desert. So we spent a day at the Desert Botanical Gardens and a day gallivanting around the Tonto National Forest. The gardens gave a close up view of many different plant species found in different areas of the dessert. The butterfly pavilion was open for business and we must have been in there for almost an hour. The weather was perfect for walking around outside and the garden designers were very smart in the way they offered up several shady areas to sit and cool down. The Tonto Forest, however, was not so considerate. After driving into the park about 20 miles or so, we find out that we need a park pass to park anywhere, anytime. So we drove back to town, paid the nice young lady at the Chevron $6.00 for our 24 hour pass and drove back into the forest. Which, by the way, does not look like a forest. Not in the part we were in, anyway. There were hundreds of Saguaro Cactuses and miles of hills, valleys, mountains and barbed wire fencing. All, except for the barbed wire, in southern shades of terra cotta red and soft greyish green.

We took many pictures at both the garden and the forest and a few around the condo. Speaking of the condo…what a great place to be. Geoff spent most of his time there exploring his new strawberry pi computer stuff and you would usually find me with my knitting needles in hand. Louise knitted up a handy beer cozy mitt; no so appropriate for desert weather, but it’ll be a great hit here in snowy Alberta. Brrrr, go-home time came far too quick, neither of us were ready to leave. It was really nice to spend time with Mom at her snow bird home and visit with the neighbours.

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Click on this one to go to the flower gallery.

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