Planting beans, vegetables blesses gardeners with anticipation of good things to come

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By: Jim Carpenter

Flickr Creative Commons/16:9clue

I haven’t really checked with other gardeners, but I suspect for most of us there are little “milestones” that happen as we get into the gardening season. One of these just happened to me. I planted my green beans. This may not sound like much, but it really is a milestone in the respect that it is now at or nearly at the frost-free date for our area of the country. Beans are very sensitive to freezing temperatures, so it is important to wait until you’re pretty sure it will not drop below freezing after those sensitive plants are up and growing. I must admit I jump the gun a little bit by looking at the extended temperature forecast and also allow that it will take them probably a week or more to germinate and leave the comparative “warmth” of the soil.

I actually planted four varieties of beans this year, which is only because while looking through my assorted odds and ends of leftover seeds, I ran into some bean seeds from a few years back that I must have overlooked last year. Top Crop is a good producer for our household, and I still had a small quantity left from a year or two ago. Most seeds will still be good even after a few years, although their germination rates will go down every year, so you might want to plant them a little thicker to offset that. We like to eat a lot of fresh beans during the season, and then we freeze quite a few of them and also might can a batch or two. Our experience is that next to fresh, it is hard to beat the flavor and texture of properly frozen green beans.

I was introduced to an heirloom bean called Dragon Tongue a few years back, and I try to plant some of them each year. This is a beautiful, large bean with variegated colors that, when cooked, turns all yellow. Another plus with this bean is that I leave some on the plants to mature and then I can save the seed for the next season. This is just one of the many reasons I like to plant heirloom seed. I will be talking more about heirlooms at a later date.

Another heirloom bean I planted is called Provider. This was a packet I bought from a friend at the local farmers market a few months back. One of the qualities of Provider is that it is a good bean to keep producing through the season if it is kept picked. Many beans will keep producing, but some are better than others. If it performs well for me this year, I will be sure and let some of the beans grow to maturity and then save some seed for next year.

Finally, I ran across some beans called Jacob’s Cattle Beans. These were sent to me by a lady who saw me give a presentation on heirlooms a few years ago and wanted to share them with me. This speckled bean seed actually got its name from Genesis chapter 30. The lady sent these beans to me in 2013 and said they were from the year before, so it will be interesting to see how the germination will be. I am not familiar with this bean, and it will be interesting to see how it performs as another fresh green bean for the table and perhaps the freezer. Again, if I like it, I can save some of its seeds for another year since it is also an heirloom.

I normally would plant only two varieties of beans in my garden, but since I found these older seeds, I decided to plant all four types. Also, I would normally stagger my planting times for beans to extend the season for them, but these four beans mature at different times, so that should take care of that.

I really feel anticipation of good things to come is one of the real blessings in life. I think this is true whether you are planning a vacation or planting a garden. This is part of what keeps us going through the preparation and hard work involved in getting to the end results. Most events in life are not in our direct control, and oftentimes we may be a bit disappointed with the final outcome. However, with good planning and a bit of serious effort, a bountiful harvest will surely come your way!

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