Friday, August 12, 2011

Heirloom Bean Project: August Update

Clockwise from left: Hidatsa Shield Figure, Good Mother Stallard, Hutterite Soup, Tiger's Eye
 It's early August and the heirloom beans I planted in May and June have been flowering and forming pods. A few of the pods are starting to mature and dry so that I can have a peek at the bean seeds. Some of the beans are really beautiful colors, and it's been exciting to see how the seeds transform from tender green beans that look very much the same, into spectacularly colorful seeds.  But more on seeds next month when it's harvest time.

Sheet, or "sandwich composting" was a great way to prepare the soil for my bean trial
 The side of our house was a perfect place to plant several types as a test to see how they do in our region (see sandwich composting post, "Soil Magic..."). I plan to choose a few to do a larger planting next summer, perhaps with the more rare bean types (such as Tiger's Eye and the Hidatsa Shield Figure).

Italian Butter Beans have abundant white flowers
The Italian Butter Bean is a runner bean, as I discovered, and has large, showy white flowers. They were beautiful on a trellis in my front yard garden, and attracted a lot of admiration on our Edible Landscaping Tour. As you can see, the carpenter bees love them too!

Italian Butter Beans pods are large and fibrous
I bought the dry Italian Butter Beans at our farmer's market from Iacopi Farms. They produce typical runner bean pods: large and fibrous.  I can't wait to see the dry seeds- they should be a soft white, similar to the Cannelini Runner that I bought from Rancho Gordo.

Good Mother Stallard grew well and have plentiful pods that will be beginning to dry soon. I hope to have enough to save seeds and have some for cooking! The dry beans are very pretty: maroon with white swirls (see photo at top).

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