Tuesday, August 2

One Good Thing



One good thing about this serious drought we are experiencing (and probably the ONLY good thing) is that the pea vines have totally dried up and the pea seed saving is easy. They have all dried very quickly on the vine and I managed to save quite a few for next year.

The tall telephone peas were the best producers this year as far as good shelling peas were concerned. I always plant this variety because I know that I will get a ton of peas. As the name suggests, they grow very tall and need to be trellised which makes for some visually appealing shade structures in the garden. The peas from the tall telephone are sweet and they dry and save well.

The other fantastic variety for seed saving is the Alaska. It is a compact pod with smaller peas but they produce a huge amount for the smaller space they take up than other varieties. They still need to be trellised to some extent but they are not a fast growing as other varieties, making it easier to keep up with the vines. The great thing about Alaska peas is that they are fantastic for seed saving. I have never had a problem with them and they dry on the vine very well, even when we are not in the middle of a drought.

I also grew Green Arrow, Little Marvel and British varieties and I was happy with them, but not thrilled. Granted, it was a dry season but they just did not produce as well as I expected. I saved some of the seed for next year, hoping that the weather will be more cooperative.

The one variety that did not do well was the Maxigolt. The vine growth was very poor and I hardly got any peas from them. I did not bother saving any seeds since they don;t seem to do well in my soil and I have plenty of other varieties that I know will do well.

Peas are always the first seed that I save every year, followed shortly by the marigolds, calendula and poppy. The beans will start drying soon since it has been such a horrible season for beans, at least in my garden. One of my favorite things to grow, the beans have been very disappointing this year. In past years I have had more beans than I know what to do with. I do not plant a large amount of seed - the plants have just always given great yields. I have been known to covertly leave baskets of green, yellow and purple pole beans on my neighbors porches.

Not this year. They are producing but not nearly at the levels I am used to. I have let the yellow beans go for seed since I am not getting anything usable. The same with the scarlet runner, Mayflower and the rattlesnake. The blue lake produced two plants after three plantings since nothing was sprouting. I ordered and planted some interesting beans this season and I was looking forward to collecting both the food and the seed. It is a disappointment as far as the food end is concerned, except for the purple pole. They always seem to do well no matter where I plant them or of the weather conditions. I guess I have found the signature bean for my garden.

I am hoping for a better showing on the seed saving end for the beans. A few years ago at Mother Earth News Fair, I met a great lady from Fruition Seeds. She had a wide wooden bowl at her display booth filled with all different types of dry beans. Every color and shape and size - and she had them there so people could just dig their hand in and explore - like a kid in the sandbox. I have wanted to have my own wooden bowl of beans every since and I wanted to grow and save them myself.

I have my bowl, now I just need my beans.

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