Friday, November 18, 2016

Final Tally: Bean Tunnel

 Harvesting dry beans is relaxing. They take their time to dehydrate and even if their shells mold or discolor, bean seeds inside turn ever more brilliant. Frost typically kills late bloomers and seeds in later pods don't fully develop. This year's bean tunnel produced a little over two pounds of immature fruit that chickens and Guinea fowl heartily devoured. Some years we don't get around to pick the drying bean pods until December but I was anxious to quantify this year's production a bit earlier. Shelling them took about three hours.
Scarlet Runner and Purple Pod Beans Hanging to Dry
The two dozen purple pole bean plants produced around 30 pounds of fresh string beans but we let most of them mature and dry so that we now have two pounds of seeds for years to come. Any that don't get planted will become soup.
Purple Pod Pole Bean Seeds
Scarlet runner beans we grow primarily for show because the fresh large pods are tough to eat. The beans inside are beautiful and the four dozen plants produced five pounds of these shiny gems.
Scarlet Runner Bean Seeds
The real champions in producing food this year were the Italian Zucchino Rampicante squash (Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds). Not only did they produce immature fruit from early August through October totaling over 200 pounds, the four squash allowed to mature for seeds together weighed over 25 pounds! These now are the color of butternut squash and will probably cook up like winter squash. Maybe we'll make a pie with a small piece of one for Thanksgiving dinner!
Mature Italian Zucchini, Formerly a Pale, Splotchy Green
We did plant some cucumbers but they produced little edible fruit. Opposite the cukes were beautifully red yard-long beans but we didn't know when to pick them nor did we have recipes for preparing them. We fed seeds that birds didn't steal to our fowl. In another part of the garden we had planted sweet potato squash and they taste exceptional and are quite beautiful. They earned a section in next year's bean tunnel.
Sweet Potato Squash: Some Are Dirty From Growing on the Ground

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Planting Garlic

I have been too busy to get our garlic in the ground before my target date: October 31. In September, a family member helped separate the best 350 cloves from heads but they sat in a carton waiting to complete harvesting, a birthday celebration, a hike and a quick visit to both west coast daughters. A dear friend planted almost half while we were away for two weeks that enabled me to plant the rest in only a few hours.
Garlic Cloves Going into Rows with Hay Fork, Bucket for Worms and Carton of Separated Cloves
My favorite tool for planting is a hay fork because its skinny tines slip so easily in our soft soil and don't often hurt the worms that are so plentiful. Most of the worms, grubs and caterpillars end up in a pail for transport to the chickens and Guinea fowl. The garlic beds get covered with a few inches of ground up leaves and grass for insulation and weed/moisture control. By next June, most of this organic matter will have been processed by worms so that the bed is ready for parsley seeds.