Beans, Beans and more Beans

People often ask me why I have such a long list of seeds and why do I bother with all the varieties. Wouldn't it be better to have just one type of tomato, pepper, potato or bean? But the answer is always "no, life would be too boring if we only had 1 of each". All the taste, texture, different flavors that vary so much - how can you not enjoy them? Last year I did the spotlight of different tomatoes and how they go from smoky and complex to almost fruit-like and non-acid flavors. So this time the spotlight is on beans. There are too many varieties in the world with some being grown for dry beans that can be stored for winter, and some for eating fresh, or can be done as both. They can be categorized in several groups:
  • Green beans
  • Yellow Wax
  • French Filet
  • Asian Yard long
  • Cow peas (technically a bean)
  • others such as Soy, Lima and Broad bean (Fava)
And then you have choice of bush or pole - do you want to have neat little bush to pick from or do you prefer to see a wall of climbing beans that makes it fun trying to put them into towers/walls and you won't have to bend too much to pick them?

And of course all those gorgeous colors - bright yellow, purple, speckled, red, dark and light green etc. I can only wish I had enough space for many more to plant. I'm not a fan of dry beans - never got to really like them, but I do have few varieties that I like to grow for eating fresh:
So from top to bottom in the picture of what I picked yesterday:

  • Kentucky Wonder - heirloom bean, with traditional "green bean" flavor.
  • Romano Purpiat - deep purple wide bean that turns green when cooked - very tasty stringless bean and very quickly becoming one of my favorites for its buttery taste.
  • Garden green bean - Tenderbush - the typical green bean you get in a store.
  • Purple Velour - french filet variety, with slim and crunchy texture and very pleasant taste.
  • Dragon Tongue - this can be used as fresh or let it grow out and dry for winter, but I like it fresh. It's nice and buttery when young but if it's overgrown can get a bit stringy so I pick them when they're still flat.
  • Roc D'or - this is a pole variety that I love for both taste and texture, and in addition it really a heavy producer.  This is a yellow wax type with very mild buttery taste, perfect for a side dish and stores well in a freezer if I blanch it.
  • Green Slenderette - another french filet, small in size but nice crisp taste. Not a heavy producer though so not sure if I will grow it next year.
  • Soliel - yellow french filet, very slender, crisp and somewhat brittle in texture (breaks often when I harvest) but has pleasant flavor.
  • And last in the picture is soy bean - green butterbean. I like steaming them and eating fresh with a little bit of salt to enhance flavor.

Not pictured that I tried this year are Dolico - more like a cow-peas but can be used as a green bean. I was not happy with the flavor and pulled out plants after first try. Garden yellow - brittle wax was mostly destroyed by groundhog though I did get first few flushes out of it. French Gold pole bean - lovely taste and texture, but not as good as Roc D'or. Red Noodle and Gita was destroyed by groundhog and never got to produce, and Purple Queen was demolished as well, but I had it last year and liked it flavor very much.

So here you have it, few varieties to think about and I have a long list that I want to try next year in addition to what I already have.

Harvest August 18

The garden is slowly dying off, and I started to pull out everything from beds and will prepare them for winter - this is one thing that I was not able to do last year and it's very visible in this year harvest. Not adding manure in fall to de-compost shot down growth of everything considerably. So I will get a truckload delievered and spread for next year. Only 1 bed planted for fall garden. But few thing still being harvested, including beans, tomatoes, first Diva cucumber, few peppers, tiny corn and one yellow squash.
 
The community is also starting to wrap up, with most of the tomato plants dying off. But I did get second cantaloupe, onions, tomatoes and zucchini. 
Visit Daphne's page to see how others are doing in their harvests this week and share yours.

Spotlight: AmpleHarvest.org

Many people are aware that there is a hunger issue all over the world, and in US they call it "food insecurity" - meaning for families that are struggling financially, it can be hard to get good food (or any food) on the table each day. That's where some of the local communities have stepped in and joined in effort to deliver excess harvest to local pantries and food kitchens. One such organization is Ample Harvest - you can find it on the Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AmpleHarvest.org - and read more about what they do in details. You can also see if you have too many veggies that can be donated to a local group by your area - their website allows you to search by zipcode.  The community garden where I help out belongs to one of such kitchens and benefits directly local people who are struggling. In past two weeks we've had two families stay in the area that lost their homes to apartment fire and they got most of the meals from that kitchen.

Perfect Cantaloupe

This was worth the wait! My husband normally not a big fan of fruit, but he gave me one slice and ate all the rest in one sitting! It was very fragrant, very sweet and super juicy and made him grin from ear to ear :)  Now to wait for others to ripen so he can enjoy some more.
Definitely planting more next year for him since it made his so happy - planning a bed full of manure now and saved seeds from this one for next round.

First Cantaloupe, winter squash and yard-long noodle beans

I did an unscheduled run to the community garden to get few things from my neighbor's plot - Michelle is out of town and asked to pick her produce and deliver to the kitchen, which I did of course.
But while I was there, I also picked up my batch of zucchini, nice size cabbage, few tomatoes, hot cherry peppers and few of the winter squash - butternut. Yes, I could have left it on the vine longer, but I want to get some ready for eating when my sister is here, and they still need to "cure" in the sun so I picked them early. There are quite a few left on the vine and they'll be ready for picking at the end of September, so we'll keep those for winter.
But the highlight was my first cantaloupe for this year! I know it might seem strange, but it's a victory for me as usually I don't get to have them. Either groundhogs/rabits eat it, or it doesn't grow well. Well this time we got it, and it made my hubby very happy - it's his favorite melon.
And after all that bounty, I went to the CSA farm and pick some more (yes, I LOVE picking veggies and can't get enough) and it gave me a chance to spend 2 quiet hours on the fresh air - no people, no car noise. Just me and a huge field where I had to hunt for lemon-cucumbers lost in their vines and then 100 or so feet of yard-noodle bean  row.
Only few cucumbers were found, but a large bag of beans were picked and put in the fridge - it's all going back to NYC with the owner on Saturday once I bring it back to the farm - this way beans won't get too old for eating and won't be wasted, and they get stored in a cool fridge awaiting transport.

Harvest Aug 10

A little bit more variety this week - greens, beans, few carrots for snack, beets, tomatoes and peppers at home garden. Not a lot, but enough for us to enjoy our meals. 

In the community garden, hot peppers, large and cherry tomatoes, cucumbers & zucchini are still producing. Many of my tomato plants started to die off because it's been about 10 days without rain, and even when I water myself it's not enough. But it was a good run so I'm not complaining.
Visit Daphne's page (link on the right side) to see what others are harvesting this week.

Cured Garlic

Last night was a good time to clean and store all that garlic that was drying out for past month. It definitely "dried" out and got much lighter in weight that I thought it would be, but it's enough for us to keep for winter and use for seeds for next year's planting in October.
 Obviously the biggest heads from all varieties are going to be used for seeds. I haven't decided if I want to replant turban (soft neck) variety yet.The "for seed" garlic was planted separately and was picked much later so they don't have as much papers wrapped around it.
For now I will be using some of it in my tomato sauces and cooking - my hubby loves roasted garlic mash and lemon garlic shrimp so I'll be indulging his appetite :)