All in all, I think we ended up with twelve bean varieties, though some didn’t do so well in the face of marauding deer.
We only grew a bit of each variety, just to see what works best in our garden’s mesoclimate (that’s the boy’s new favorite word, there).
bottom row, left to right
Jacob’s Cattle Beans, Hidatsa Red Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Black Turtle Beans
Ireland Creek Annie Beans, Yellow Indian Woman Beans, Good Mother Stallard Beans
Marfax Beans, Tiger Eye Beans
True Red Cranberry Beans, Fagiolo Rampicante di Spagna a Grano Bianco (fat white italian/spanish runner beans)
So far, my favorites are the Italian white beans (so fat and meaty), the Tiger Eyes (so creamy), and the True Red Cranberries (so incredibly tasty). I have yet to taste them all, though.
The most productive varieties in our Zone 6, deer- and horseweed-challenged, southwest-facing clay were: Good Mother Stallard, October, Cherokee Trail of Tears, and Black Turtle.
Because we didn’t grow too many beans, we shelled them by hand. But that can be tedious. There are many creative ways to thresh beans. The National Gardening Association has some good basic instructions.
We’ve had hard freezes here for two nights in a row now, so the tender things had to come out of the garden. We pulled out several gallons of peppers and tomatoes (red and green), four or five hot pepper plants for drying (we just hung the whole plants upside down in the room with the woodstove), many many dry beans (ten or eleven different kinds — I’ll post on them separately), and a few stray butternut squashes. Now I feel like it’s really fall.
We went tromping out to the garden the other evening to dig up that pretty habanero plant.
What did we find? A herd of deer, grazing away at the tops of all the hot pepper plants.
Well, we brought this one in anyway, minus its top leaves. And as you can see, it’s still pretty.
Some strange business, though, deer grazing on habaneros. This drought must really be getting to them.
Or maybe they’re just a bit foolish?
I just got back from a trip North for the second annual Northeast Community Herbal Convergence.* I was worried it might frost while I was gone, but of course that didn’t happen. The garden is very much alive.
In fact, my habanero plant is covered with peppers. I’m thinking of potting it up and bringing it inside for the winter. I’ve done that with pepper plants beforeâ€”they don’t belong in this seasonal climate of ours, and they tend to be so beautiful right before frost.
Years ago I dug up a thai chili from my garden in Norwich, Vermont. I kept it with me for three or four yearsâ€”in I don’t know how many different apartmentsâ€”and it produced peppers the whole time.
It’s easy to dig up a plant from the garden to bring inside. Some take to it better than others, of course. Peppers, especially hot peppers, tend to do well, as do most herbs. Anything that’s perennial in its native habitat is worth a try.
Just dig carefully around the edges of the plant, and transfer it gently to a large-enough pot with plenty of dirt, and maybe a few rocks for drainage. Water it thoroughly and put it in a sunny spot inside. Keep a close eye on it at first, since you may have imported critters, etc. from the garden.
*If you want to hear all about the Herbal Convergence, you can check out Guido’s very detailed report.