Tag Archives: gardening

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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Longest Day? In the Garden, of Course!

It was hard work in the garden today, the longest day of the year.  GGMa is here and with her help my west garden is completely weeded and mulched.  The seedlings are still small and some are even tiny, but so were the weeds, making them easy to pull, rake, flatten or otherwise destroy.  The onions are hardly there so we did nothing with them, but the carrots are feathery and the beans are working on their second and third set of leaves….exciting!

StartersHere are carrots, one of my six Mrs. Wrinkles Pumpkins, poppies from seeds we saved from our other garden and some other kind of perennial flower (I can’t remember what it is, any guesses??)

We’re starting a no-till method of gardening this year, so I spent a lot of time and pulled a lot of muscles building the beds with small logs from a pile-o-sticks that was here when we bought the place.  G-Hub and Stephen helped a lot with that, Thanks Guys.  I like the layout so now we can build on the beds and mulch the paths.  To start the process this year I’ve mulched the pumpkin and quinoa patches between the rows and anywhere there isn’t a seedling with a thick layer of very dry hay.  I’m hoping this will help keep the weeds away and I know it will help hold the moisture.  The Patches

The pumpkins are on the left and the Quinoa on the right.  We have another patch of Quinoa in our East garden which will get done next weekend.  There are six Pumpkin seedling out of 14 planted and about 80% of the Quinoa seeds germinated.  Overall our germination rate was poor this year.  I don’t even have to thin the beets or carrots.  The peas, however, are full and doing really good; you can see them next to the Quinoa.  I think the poor germination rate had everything to do with the weather and amount of rain we did’t get; spring was very dry and frost date was very late.

In the fall we will harvest the fruits, seeds, and veggies and leave all the left over plant material on the garden, including all the mulch.  The thick and heavy snow we get every year will compress it all and we’ll plant directly into the residue in the spring.  No tilling , no turning, no need to loosen the soil.  With the dedicated pathways and the beds being no more than 4 feet wide, except the pumpkin patch, there is no need to walk on the areas we plant in.  We added manure fall before last and so this fall before snow we might add a layer of compost to the beds, or at the very least a layer of leaf mold.

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There’s something about working in the garden.  I can’t explain the satisfaction I get from getting on my knees and grinding dirt into my jeans, completely roughing up the skin on my hands and filling my fingernails with black topsoil, and then standing back to gaze at the results of hours of sweating in the heat and sunburning my back.

Cool moist texture of the soil
earthy aroma of new and fresh plants
thriving from the energy of old and decaying organics
fat brightly colored vegetables bursting with tasty rich flavours….

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