Sunday, March 17, 2013

Magic Beans

Its still early in the season, the ides of March just past, however we have seen several days recently at about 70 degrees. For a gardener this means getting the garden ready, ordering seeds (the ones not already gotten), and just plain getting ready.
As a seed saver, last season I let several beans develop past "snap" status to "pot" or seed status. The two varieties I saved were scarlet runner, oriental wonder asparagus type bean. Both of these over wintered in their seed pod in my unheated garage. Here we typically get a week or two of single digit, or less, night time temps with day time temperatures in the teens or low 20's. Most years this happens in January around the time of the Western Stock Show, a local shindig down the way in Denver proper.  All this means that I don't really baby these beans in a climate controlled environment beyond keeping them dry.
So back to getting ready for spring. At this point the bean pods are dry and brittle and getting the beans out is simply a matter of smashing the pods by hand and sorting out the beans from the 'chaff'.
Spring prep work

In the picture above you can see my sorted beans in the pile. A plastic bag of picked beans and a red coffee container that I am using to carry the empty pods to the compost pile. Some of the beans were not dry and got moldy in the plastic bag. So I would recommend laying out the beans on some newspaper to dry completely, but I still got plenty for this year. I actually divided the beans into thirds and gave two of those away to friends. In the picture the large pile is Scarlet Runner beans, the ones in the baggie are the yard long beans and the drink in the foreground to the left is hard cider, see Oct 6 post. I'm still nursing the keg it fermented to 12.5% alcohol, next time I'll skip the added sugar.
I try to save seeds from as many different vegetables as possible. Below is the garage stash of beans. Some do get more love and are brought inside and stored in a styrofoam box.
QBert tray with saved seeds
 I've saved seeds from beets, borage, tomatoes and the spaghetti jar in the center has a mix of locust bean and others I found in my neighborhood.
Scarlet Runner Beans
Here is a close-up of the runner beans.

And above a "friend sack" of beans.

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