Saturday, June 21, 2014

beans go in

Yeah, I know it's late. Beans are supposed to go in when the soil is warm enough and no chance of frost. That was maybe 3-4 weeks ago. But that's what happens when trying to find a new job and buying a new car, and having a guest from out of town, and then the decision making difficulties. The basil is already big.

First was what to plant. My one raised bed has limited space and I had to decide if I wanted to grow vegetables at all. Months of ideas, and this was my inspiration:
 The white roses were planted, and I had to decide what to put behind them. Evergreen shrubs? Junipers? More (climbing) roses? Rosemary? Russian sage? I bought some dahlias to give me a temporary sense of height, and color, as if either shrubs or larger roses. Or they could remain if I liked them, as a cutting garden. (2 months later, and they are barely coming up. Weird.) I figured there was enough room for more plants (note to self: although you are very good at guestimating space visually, that sense is skewed when trying to find room for plants, so measure, will ya?). There aren't a lot of vegetables that I wanted to grow. Tomatoes? Nah. My guy won't eat tomatoes (bad energetics). Squash? Too big. Melons? Also too big. Eggplant? Honestly, we don't eat eggplant. Carrots? Boring. Last year I planted bush Roma beans. These went in really late (August) and I got a couple of weeks of nice green beans before frost killed the plants. Then I remembered the beans that I grew in a community garden back in 1995. They were Spanish Meralda beans, which were incredibly delicious, instead of the green things that are just good because they have butter on them. Meraldas were meaty, tender, yummy, longer available. I discovered that Park Seed carried 'Smeraldo' beans ("The best selling flat bean in Europe!" Catalogs kill me). I wonder if they are close enough? I got them, and also 'Algarve' French beans (I was also tempted by the 'Rattlesnake' beans at Plants of the Southwest).

Park Seed 'Smerado' beans
Then, what to do about supports. 'Smeraldo' (55 days) is said to grow 4-6' high, and 'Algarve' (52 days) grows 6-7' tall. The bean towers at Gardener's Supply were out of stock and ridiculously expensive (it would be years before I would buy $80 worth of beans at the grocery store), and rather industrial looking. Plant World here in Albuquerque had steel obelisks, 7 feet high, which would not only provide support, but would look good even in the winter. I would have to tie string between the rungs to provide enough for the beans to climb. They looked something like this:

But at that size, they didn't fit in my car, and actually cost more than the Gardener's Supply version. Park seed also had their bean supports:

But the plastic ring one would never last in New Mexico sun, and the other one was very utilitarian and ugly (sorry to my neighbor who has used these for years):

Of course I could have just made a tee-pee from bamboo, but when I was a kid and made these, they took a lot of space, fell apart mid-season (my fault), and was too small at the top for all the vines. So I got the Gardener's Supply version, which arrived today, and are actually quite sturdy.

I do like the height and structure that the bean towers give to the side yard. I should harvest some in 2 months, then for maybe a month before frost.  I just hope the HOA doesn't give me a citation because of them, since they are visible over the top of the wall.

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