Peas & Beans (2017)

This is a super low-photo post, but I hope to update you all once things start growing.

PEAS

Initially, I planned to get the Peas sown around the beginning of May (as they can take a little cold and frost). But, as you can tell, I’m writing this post on May 22, and I just finally got around to sticking them into the ground yesterday.

I was going to sow a few different varieties. I do have a good collection of seed to pick and choose from. However, I stopped myself at 2 varieties because I was struggling to find homes for them all. I had some self seeded peas popping up, conveniently right where I wanted to put a little tee-pee. Since they are probably ‘Sugar Snap’, I sowed more ‘Sugar Snap’ around them.


The second variety is ‘Blauwschokkers Blue Podded Pea‘. I grew them last year, and while they are not the best tasting pea, they are beautiful. Plus, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I never got around to tasting them as a mature, podded pea.

BEANS

Since I never got around to sowing any Beans last year, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss them this year. Beans are one of my favourite garden treats. I sowed 4 different climbing/Pole varieties, and 2 different bush varieties. Since some of my seed is quite old, I over seeded in the hopes of good germination.

Bean Varieties this year (and some quick notes in the brackets):

  • ‘Enorma’ Runner Bean (green with HUGE pods, if you let them grow)
  • ‘Cobra’ French Climbing Bean (green beans… delicious taste, lots of beans)
  • ‘Trofino Violetta’ Pole Bean (beautiful purple beans. Personal Favourite)
  • ‘Scarlet Emperor’ Runner Bean (green beans, large pods if you let them grow….with beautiful red flowers)
  • ‘Royal Burgundy’ Bush Bean (deep purple, good taste, LOTS of beans)
  • ‘Gold Rush’ Bush Bean (yellow beans… First year growing them)

I am always amazed at how different beans are. Since my hands were covered in dirt, I didn’t manage to get a photo to show you just how different they all were, although I wanted to. I would recommend grabbing a few different kinds of beans for your own garden. You can grow a rainbow of varieties. You’ll never want beans from the store after you have grown your own. Bonus… they are one of the easiest things to grow.

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Sometimes getting photos is hard when the feline is starved for attention. Such a good helper-cat. 😉

Someday I will have a HUGE garden where I can have more than a handful of each plant.

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Community Garden Plot – Update 3

On Canada Day (July 1st if you didn’t know) I had all the gardening ambition finally and after getting the backyard all sorted, I headed to my community garden plot! I also went ahead and got super sunburnt too.

I only had a little weeding to do. That was nice, because I expected to have a ton of weeding with all the sun and rain we have had.

I sowed some ‘Gold Rush’ bush beans, which are going to end up being the only beans I have this year. I totally spaced on sowing them in the yard. So disappointed in myself on that front.

I also sowed some ‘Bulls Blood’ and ‘Chioggia’ Beets, AND some of the onions I sowed from seed back in December!  Here is hoping that everything grows well with the limited summer we might end up with.

Sorry for the blurry pic… I was trying to not fall into the freshly watered garden.

On a more positive note! The carrots are doing well and the potatoes are starting to flower! So I should get something from this whole venture.

Also, check out my neighbors garlic! I’m so jealous of it!

Previous Updates: 1 & 2

How to Start Gardening – Picking Seeds (Bean edition)

 

IMG_2786A few weeks ago, I posted a “How to Start Gardening” post. I wanted it to be an inspiring way to just start gardening if you never have. You don’t need a huge plot of land to start. We all WANT it, but you don’t NEED it. And if one day in the future you do get that plot of land to have a dream vegetable garden on – Starting now, by growing some lettuce in a pot by your front door, will give you more knowledge and confidence to take that land head on and make it productive for you. Even if you only get one salad all year from that bit of lettuce you grow, I am willing to bet that it will be the best salad you have ever had. Because you grew it.

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Anyway, I’ll stop waxing philosophic and get down to what I really wanted to talk about today, and that is picking seeds. All the seed stands are showing up in the big stores right now, and its a good time to check them out and see what you may want to grow.

They can also be daunting. You just want to grow some beans, but which ones to pick? SO MANY CHOICES! Beans are actually a good first example for me to pick, because it is easy to narrow down your choices. First, are you growing them in a pot? If so, stick to ‘bush’ or ‘dwarf’ varieties. You don’t want it to say ‘climbing’ ‘pole’ or ‘runner’ if you are growing it in a pot. I haven’t had much luck with climbing beans in pots (not that I have tried much as I always have some ground to put them in), but bush beans seem to grow where ever I put them.

Basically, you can just pick whichever bush bean variety you want. I tend to grow different coloured ones. The purple ones are really fun, and not something you can usually find at the grocery store.

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IF you have some ground to grow in… Beans are a great first crop to try out, as they can help improve your soil at the same time as giving you a crop. Because they are a legume, they have little nodules in their roots, that store nitrogen from the air. This helps turn it into nutrition in the soil for other plants. They also tend to grow almost anywhere making them a good confidence builder.

If you have the ground and something pretty tall for them to climb, and a pretty sunny location… Keep “Scarlet Runner Beans” in mind. They produce beautiful red flowers (that attract bees, butterflies and if you are lucky, hummingbirds!), and give you a great crop of delicious beans… The more beans you pick, the more the flowers keep coming. You can either find them in the flower area or the vegetable area of the seed rack.

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Scarlet Runner Bean Flower

I will end this post with a few varieties that McKenzie seeds carries that I have had great success with. I am not sponsored by them or anything, they are just the most accessible seeds around here. If you are picking anything a little bit different, like the purple varieties, now is a good time to pick them up before everyone else does.

Purple Varieties:

Yellow Varieties:

  • ‘Kentucky Wonder Wax Pole’ – This is actually the only yellow bean that I have grown personally. It does well, but you need to check it often. It produces a huge yield everytime I’ve grown it.
  • This year, I picked up some ‘Goldrush’ (bush) beans from Burpee to try too. I’m sure I’ll let you know how they grow. Curiously, it is not on their website.

Green Varieties: (I have narrowed this list down to just a few favourites, but pretty much every green bean I have tried I have loved, so just pick one that sounds good to you and give it a go)

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DRY BEANS. These are ones that you plant and let grow without picking the beans. You want the bean pods to dry on the plant, and then you harvest the beans inside. For these you need a nice long season to give them the required time to dry out. Typically, they are climbing/pole/runner type beans rather than bush varieties. Seeds for this type of bean are typically sold through catalogues or online and you can find some really cool heritage and heirloom varieties this way. If you are building your confidence (especially in a climate like mine), I would stick to the fast maturing bush beans. If you are branching out and trying new things, give these few easy to pick up varieties a try before venturing into heirloom territory:

  • ‘Rattlesnake’ These are sometimes sold as a “kids” seed pack. They look cool and grow well.
  • ‘Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco’ (Bush) – These are a GREAT one to try. You can eat some of the beans when they are young and green, and let the rest mature on the plant for some dried beans. They are a nice speckled red colour. They tend to sprawl out a bit rather than keeping to an actual bush habit, so keep that in mind when growing them. The beans in the photo above are from these Botlotto beans.
  • ‘Pinto’ beans. I have found these in the past from McKenzie seeds, but I can’t seem to find it on their website now. They grew so good for me last year, and I got a decent harvest (over 2 cups of dried beans) from only 3 plants.

Broad Beans– (or Fava Beans) These are way different, and I have only had success with one kind- ‘Windsor’. I also don’t LOVE the taste of them, but the flowers are gorgeous and the way they grow is fasinating. If you have some open ground to try them, go for it. They are fun to grow. Their seeds are HUGE. I won’t be growing these again until I have more garden space, or I find I miss their flowers.

I know I mentioned before, But I want to emphasize that I am in no way sponsored by McKenzie seeds. They just happen to be the easiest to come-by seeds around here. The varieties mentioned are also only suggestions that I have personally had luck with in the past. Pick something and experiment – The worst thing to happen will be it not growing… Then you just try again next time.

I know I started this post using lettuce as an example, and I will get to writing a post about which lettuce seeds to grow… I just wanted to pick something I thought was a good and easy place to start growing straight from seed.

This year, I will also try and get more harvest pictures of beans. I went through the archives and I have almost zero pictures of the hoards of beans I have harvested over the years. Probably because I am too busy shoving them into my mouth rather than taking pictures of them.

  

  

Peas & Beans Update (July 6/2015)

I just finished a 5 day break from work, but head back today, so I thought I would get a post in before I get overwhelmed with all the things that didn’t get done while I was away. Just kidding, I’m sure everything is fine there.

  
The Peas in the container are doing well finally and starting to put on some growth. I’m not sure on which variety is in here, but I know it is a shorter more winter hardy one… Possibly ‘Alaska’

  
The taller climbing Peas are almost up to the top of our window sill, and are just starting to put some flowers out. These are a mix of ‘Sugar Snap’ and ‘Wando’ varieties.

  
The Broad Beans are starting to make little Beans. They were not as covered in flowers this year, so the crop won’t be huge… Or maybe they are just getting a slower start, but hopefully they are doing what I really want them to do and fixing some nitrogen so I can just dig the roots into the bed in the fall.

  
The Climbing Beans that I started in newspaper pots are doing amazing. I will have to remember to do this again next spring, because it really gave me a jump on the season. The 2 left canes are ‘Enorma’ Runner Beans, the middle 3 canes are ‘Cobra’ French Climbing Beans, and the 2 canes on the right are the purple climbing beans that I grew last year, ‘Trionfo Violetta’.

  
The Pinto Beans are doing well. They are starting to get flowers down close to the base of the plants. I am questioning whether we will have a long enough summer to get these to dry out enough to store. But we will find out I guess.

  
Along the fence, I have ‘Kentucky Wonder Wax’ Pole Beans. I direct-sowed them, so there should be a good succession of beans throughout the summer.

  
In the fence bed, I also did a random row of Bush Beans that I had from the past few years. There are some ‘Royal Burgundy,’ ‘Green Crop,’ ‘Tendergreen Improved,’ and ‘Contender.’ I don’t know which is which, and the only ones I will be able to tell apart are the Burgundy ones. Which, in the end doesn’t matter, as long as we get beans to eat.

  
In the bed by the house, I also have more bush beans. Same varieties as above, but also a few ‘Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco’ Bush beans. I have a semi-3 sisters thing happening in here with the corn and squash all near each other.

Well, that is all my Peas and Beans this year. I have a few things to change for next year, but that is always the case isn’t it? I hope the squirrel doesn’t like peas and beans as much as he likes Strawberries, otherwise I won’t have much of a crop to speak off.

Greenhouse Garden Update – June 28, 2014

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I have been trying to get this update written for over a week now. There was a huge storm this evening, so I cut my evening of after-work gardening short and ran home to work on this post instead.

I am working on some videos for my YouTube channel, so stay tuned for more updates with that. I’m not 100% sure what they will be, but we’ll see where the creative process takes me.

In addition, I have upgraded my iPhone 4 to and iPhone 5s, so my photos should look a little better. At least until I can get myself an actual camera. But lets cut to the actual garden update:

Starting inside:

Tomatoes
These are all doing so amazing, and I will actually have some tomatoes to show for it probably by the time the next update is posted.

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Peppers
There are tiny little Cayenne and Jalapenos on the plants, and the Hungarian Wax hot pepper has flowers and a lot of buds. I think it will be an excellent crop of those from the greenhouse. The Medusa and other Sweet Bell Peppers are starting to put growth on and hopefully we’ll see flowers on them soon.

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Ground Cherries
These are COVERED in fruit. Every night I check them to see if any have fallen to the ground yet so I can finally taste them.
Tomatillo
This is putting on some decent growth. I am very interested to see how it does. I’ve never tried a tomatillo before that hasn’t already been made into something, so this is another fun little experiment.
Eggplant
The Italian (Violetta di Napoli) is fantastic. It’s spiky and yet has these delicate little flower buds happening.
The Asian (Ping Tung Long) is a little less exciting right now. It has massive leaves but no little flower buds just yet.

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Turnips/Carrots/Kohlrabi/Pickling Onions
These are all plugging along. I massively thinned out both the kohlrabi and the turnips, so they are much less crowded now. The carrots are becoming carrots under the ground, so I will have to thin them out very soon too. The pickling onions are doing well, and I may have to start searching for a pickled onion recipe. If you have a good one, let me know in the comments below.

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Peas
The sugar snap and Wando are nearing 7 feet tall. They have a ton of little baby peas. I’m so happy with this variety that I will definitely be looking to grow it again next year. The Laxtons Progress are putting flowers on, and are doing great. However, there is just something more satisfying about growing really REALLY tall pea plants. But that is just me.

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Pickling Cucumbers
The cucumbers are all putting on their true leaves. Soon it will be time to train them up the trellis.

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Melons
The cantaloupe is doing great! I couldn’t be happier with it right now. It has put on a ton of growth I the last few weeks.
The watermelons seem a little stunted. One is fairing better than the other, but I hope they start being more lively soon.

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Summer Squash

The inside squash area is starting to take off. You can already see the little baby zucchini forming on the few that will be female flowers. In this area is one of each: Dark Green Zucchini, Gold Rush Zucchini (yellow), Sunburst (Patty Pan) Squash, and White Scallop Squash.

The herb garden area
I picked up a couple of new additions for this, but I haven’t found room for them just yet. I have had a few harvests from the parsley, sage, lemon balm, spearmint and catnip. Which are all very satisfying, since nothing else is ready to harvest just yet. My mom uses dried parsley in a couple of recipes that she makes regularly, so I am excited to give her a bottle of my own!

Moving outside now, where there have been sooooooooo many changes since the last update, that it is becoming hard to keep track of everything.

The winter squash
These are all starting to show noticeable daily growth. Although I don’t want to give too much away about the giant pumpkins until I write up their dedicated post. The Small Sugar Pumpkin has recovered and is putting on growth after the wind nearly ripped it out of the ground. Which is why you see that little white tent in the very top photo. It is a wind break for the poor little pumpkin. The Butternut Squash is hanging in there, but I’m not expecting much of it.

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Potatoes
All of these are doing great. I would guess there is a bounty of baby potatoes under the soil in the first row that went in Mid-May. The others have all been hilled up once now, and I will probably aim to do it again in a couple weeks.

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Summer squash, Pinto Bean and Rattlesnake Bean Area
All the squash seeds have finally sprouted. Should be flying along in no-time.
The pinto beans are all starting to show up. And I can see the soil disturbance where the rattlesnake beans are trying to break through.

Leeks/Onions/Garlic/Shallots

All doing very well. As I mentioned before, a few of my shallots have bolted. I decided to just let them flower, and see what happens. I know they wont have much in the way of useable vegetable matter, but bees seemed to love the onion flower I had in my backyard last year, so I’m sure they will like the shallot flowers out at the garden.

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Corn

My corn is doing so fantastic. I am so proud of it. I really hope I get some cobs to show for all of this.

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Beet/Turnip Areas

The seeds in these sections have all sprouted. I will need to thin them all very soon also.

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Carrots

The carrots I sowed in the beginning of June have all started working on true leaves now, and soon they will all need thinning also.

I sowed a second area on June 25, so we should have a somewhat decent carrot crop.

Runner/Pole Beans

The Scarlet Runner beans are doing fantastic and starting to look for something to climb, the Kentucky Wonder Wax Pole beans, should start searching for something to climb very soon too. The other two varieties are a little slower, but i’ll keep my fingers crossed that they will actually make an appearance soon. I really need to weed this area! The radishes and arugula will need thinning soon as well.

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Brussels Sprouts & Purple Cabbage and Cauliflower, Dinosaur Kale & Green Cabbage

I bought these as clearance sale seedlings at the local garden center. Which were ALL on my list of things I really wanted to grow, but that I never got around to sowing OR I couldn’t find the seed for it. Stay tuned, because I am really excited about all of these.

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Parsnips and Bush Beans

These all seem to be slow and having trouble getting going. Some of the beans sprout, but then never get their first leaves. Some are doing just fine. I’m not sure what the problem is, but I’ll try and get to the bottom of it. If you can help me, just leave a comment below.

The parsnips are just slow, they are there, but tiny. I love parsnip in stews and I really hope I get at least a handful of them for winter.

Peas

These are all sprouting and starting to climb. The second sowing will be in next week. I also sowed a row of ‘Alaska’  just over a week ago, and they are starting to show through the dirt. I hope I will have peas coming out the wazoo soon.

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Broad Beans

These are just amazing. I can even see little beans forming where some of the first flowers were. I can’t wait to try them. The ants seem to stand watch over them.

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Wildflowers/Dill/Sunflowers/Fennel

These are all doing their thing in their respective areas. I tried to keep the fennel as far away from other plants as I could, as I have read they are terrible companion plants for almost everything. I just couldn’t resist picking up a pot of them for only $2. Hopefully they grow well.

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As you can see, weeding is very high on my “GET DONE ASAP” list. And I only have one very small area left to dig and fill with plants or seeds. I will try and update more often throughout the summer, and not let so much time go by between the updates. I’ll leave you with a photo of the greenhouse from the door.

 

 

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