Friday, March 4, 2011

2011: The Year of the Bean.

Farmer Joe waters his crops.
Joe "helps" water the garden.

Spring is on its way! Now that Joe is a little older and enjoys being outdoors and "helping" (read: not helping) us work, I am really excited to put a little more effort into our garden this year. So here's where we are at so far.
  1. I ordered some heirloom vegetable and flower seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. I generally buy my seeds locally, but that website is fun!
  2. In particular, I ordered a couple different kinds of shelling beans, which is my big vegetable-growing project for this year.  Rebecca introduced me to the wonders of fresh (as opposed to dried) shelling beans from the farmers' market a few years ago, and they are scrumptious. So I've decided: If 2010 was the Year of the Pickle, 2011 will be the Year of the Bean.
  3. It is a little difficult to source seeds for  shelling beans as apparently most people want to grow green beans. Seed Savers has a great selection of shelling beans, including several varieties that can be eaten as green beans OR left in the pod for shelling beans ("dual purpose" beans). I randomly selected four kinds: two bush, two pole; two "dual-purpose," one shelling, one green. I used the same method for picking them as I do for many things: The names appealed to me. Hence, we are growing "calypso," "lazy housewife" (hahahaha), "painted pony," and "rattlesnake snap."
  4. I plan to grow some beans in the front yard, along with the tomatoes. Whatever reservations I once had about growing veggies in the front yard have vanished. I might grow other food in the front yard too. No CC&Rs to worry about when you live in an old, run-down Oakland neighborhood. Rather, I can only aspire to grow as many vegetables in my front yard as some of my neighbors do. And we get so much amazing sun out front. 
  5. I need to find some bamboo and make cool-looking tee-pees for my beans. I bet Joe would like that.
  6. Inspired by Meg of Grow & Resist, I opened a Google Docs list of the names of the varieties of plants we grow (and other internet tidbits I found), so that maybe I can actually remember which ones I like next year and not grow things solely on how colorful their names are? Apparently Meg has a spreadsheet? Dude. I am in awe. I am far too lazy and disorganized to create a garden spreadsheet, but after growing a whole different set of totally blah varieties of tomato year after year, I can definitely see the advantages of keeping track of which varieties do well and taste the best.
  7. Last year's potatoes, the ones we missed in the year end harvest, are coming up like crazy. Confession: I have never bought a potato start in my life. I just plant random sprouting potatoes instead. Sometimes I cut them into pieces and let them dry out to make "starts." Sometimes I just plant the whole green, sprouting, no-longer-edible potato. This works great, so I can never understand the recommendation you find in most books to use starts. 
  8. So we have some red waxy potatoes growing in the back yard now, and also some russets. I was going to throw some cute sprouted fingerlings and purple potatoes in the ground this year. Tip for lazy, disorganized gardeners: It's good to strategically avoid harvesting all of your potatoes. I don't know how this would work in colder climates, but here, they just resprout in the spring. Personally, I enjoy being surprised by random vegetables growing around my yard.
  9. Speaking of which, another goal is to re-establish swiss chard as a weed in the garden. For a couple years, I was drowning in chard, and it continued to bolt and self-seed all over the place, but eventually the wild onions staged a coup and ended the reign of chard. As much as I complained about the chard, it turned out I liked having that source of dark leafy greens always available. This is even more true now that a major goal in my life is to get something healthy into my toddler. So the plan is to reinstate chard as top weed. Another tip for lazy, disorganized gardeners: Grow vegetables that grow like weeds.  
  10. Not entirely unrelated to garden produce, I have plans in the works to spend some of our tax return on fixing some wiring issues in our house and then buying a chest freezer so that we can store more produce.
  11. Will we have a pickle patch again this year? Rebecca?
  12. I'm still waiting for your tomato recommendations ....
  13. Please tell how to magically get rid of snails and slugs without using poison. Thanks!


    1. Great goals you have! For slugs, sprinkle used dry coffee grounds on the dirt. It will help things!

    2. Ooh, does that work? I'll try it!

    3. Love the picture!
      Thanks for the shout out! Yes, I'm a total seed and garden geek! However, I am somehow disorganized by it. So this year I did do the spreadsheet. I haven't done one before so it sure isn't fancy. And, to be honest, I have no idea what I'm actually going to do with it. I guess just keep track. Though it did come in handy when trying to remember what I'm supposed to be starting inside right now.
      I'm all for lazy gardening. I'm hoping to leave a patch this year that I just let the lettuce and some herbs keep going to seed and replanting. Hopefully it'll work!

    4. Swoon! Not only have I converted you to shelling beans, you're growing them for me! Yikes, I guess I better get on Pickle Patch 2.0!!

    5. I am relentlessly planning my garden.

      The ground here is completely frozen.

      Try Garden Candy tomatoes if you can find em. Tiny, beautiful, delicious. Great for an overalls-clad darling to pop in his mouth like jellybeans.

    6. Thanks Betsy! Duly noted (in my new, uber-organized doc, no less!). Mmmm, teeny jelly bean tomatoes.


    I love comments! I do my very best to respond to comments, by email or here, although I am often running late. I also try to follow and comment on my regular readers' blogs. So please let me know you were here!