On legume love

Apple cuttings as pea supports

I planted beans yesterday. I always feel so hopeful when I plant the first beans. Even though I’m borderline obsessive with my love of the genus Vigna, experience has taught me to wait to plant them. Like many heat-loving garden plants, beans are true summer wonders who will sit morosely in cold soil and will either rot or sprout glacially until conditions are more to their liking. I have learned, then, to temper my enthusiasm to get them in the ground.

Yesterday, though, I planted three pole-types that are new to me. I heartily believe that pole beans are infinitely better than their bush brethren; they are more tender, and they’ll produce all summer for you provided you find and pick all the beans. This latter point is rather important. One tuft of woody beans gives the signal to the vine to slow down production. Inevitably of course I have scores of woody tufts of beans. (Shelly beans these woody ones become, see, so not all is lost.) Not, of course, that I don’t adore bush beans: I do. I plant them in large patches and harvest all at once, ready or not, and into the freezer they go.

These three new pole types should be interesting. They’re all from Fedco and I must have been a bit more bean-obsessed than usual when I ordered them in January: they all are very different. Aunt Jean’s Pole Bean had gorgeous seed. This is a soup-type bean and supposedly will be challenging to sprout. Rattlesnake Pole are heat-loving long-ish beans with purple stripes. Blue Coco are purple beans that can be eaten fresh, shell or dry. My stalwart is Kentucky Wonder and for some reason I didn’t plant them yesterday. Hmm. Maybe when the bush beans go in this week…

I considered my peas yesterday, too. I love peas as well but somehow my disappointments with their sprouting always outweigh the joyous day of first harvest. I realize now my biggest problem in getting peas to sprout is getting the voles to control their appetite. Considering they’re the first things to come up in the gardens, the meadow voles just tie on their little checkered napkins and have a feast. Overplanting and succession planting doesn’t help with the voles. That netting that so readily kills all my snakes would help. Next year…

8 responses to “On legume love

  1. I’m just curious – how would you use the netting? Over, under?

    I read in a Farmer’s Almanac that placing 18″ of pea gravel around a bed will discourage rabbits and moles, but maybe that doesn’t work for voles….we have the same issues with critters under every blad of grass, it seems. This being our first year, we’re just planting like crazy anyway to see what pests will come out.

    What a great idea for poles! We have a huge pile of apple branches ready for some recycling purpose. I was just on my way to get bamboo sticks…not anymore.

  2. Hi Jennifer: I would lay it loose over the beds, doubled or tripled up: the voles, which are kind of fat short-tailed field mice, won’t risk it because their heads get stuck in the netting. And yes, aren’t those branches swell? I love garden recycling. I had read this was the traditional way of trellising peas and so I said dang that’ll work for me too then. Good luck on your first year! There is a lot to learn but just pay attention and you’ll see it’s pretty easy.

  3. Now I dont feel so bad. The bunnies ate all (ALL OF THEM!) my cabbages, peas and Radish seedling that came out. What a pain & yes! whats up with the peas taking so long to come out lately? I used to have better luck at the community garden than here at the house. Is there something going on with peas…like the honeybees : ) ? I tried soaking them overnight to hasten the process and it did seem to work ….but end result was zero : (

    Hope you are feeling well.

  4. You got that right about waiting to plant the bush beans! We’re on our second attempt this year and the weather seems to be cooperating, finally, here on the “Left Coast,” and this crop is looking good. (Saw a blurb in the WSJ about your blog and just got around to checking it out a few weeks ago. Very enjoyable. Thanks!)

  5. J: you’re quite welcome!

    WF: Who knows. I think the beasties here just eat them as they come up (so tender: who can blame them) but dang you are right it took just about forever for them to rise up out of the ground this year. So: fence time for you? I just got some snazzy rabbit proof fencing to…enclose the chicken run. They can probably fly right over it but I think it looks nice~

    Hi Jeri! I am glad you stopped by and said hi. The WSJ thing was something of a fluke: I thought the guy was kidding. It was flattering certainly. I know what you mean about the beans though. I really love them and in general can’t wait to get them started every year…unlike tomatoes, say…and yep I know summer’s really here when I grab those seeds. Happy left coast bean eating!

  6. Mmmmm. Pole beans. Love’em!

    This year I got a late start and bought all my seeds locally, so I wasn’t able to find anything beyond the standard selection. I do love me some Kentucky Wonder, though, so it’s good.

  7. Anne! Welcome. Yezzz, indeed: Kentucky Wonder are quite the reliable standbys. There is something to be said for predictability in one’s veg garden…if only as a backdrop to all the other kooky things I plant. At least that’s my M.O.! Here’s hoping your new veg gardens all work out. I think with this cold spring it’s just about time for them, so I don’t think you’re late at all.

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