Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Spiffing up the Castle

For the past several weeks Dennis from the Monroe County Parks Dept has been working on the Castle, painting what used to be ugly siding in the courtyard and now cleaning, winterizing and painting the windows - and taking really good care of us while he's been here. Hopefully he won't be done for a long time because we will miss him!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

How grows your garden?

Hopefully it has been a wonderful growing season for your gardens! The extra moisture this summer seems to be appreciated by many plants....ok, my tomatoes have resented it, but it seems to be appreciated by many. I have even seen some plants hang on for longer than normal due to the extra moisture - I can still surprisingly find both trillium and bloodroot leaves on some hikes here and there. Normally these spring visitors vanish with the heat and dryness of summer.

I admit to neglecting a number of my gardens this summer (only so many hours in the day!), but some gardens did get my attention. One garden that did was my vegetable garden. Normally my vegetable garden is full of all sorts of oddities and unusuals that I'm trying out and things that I intend to eat and use but never really seem too. This year I cut those out and focused on the things that I consistantly use. As such, most of my vegetable garden was planted with tomatoes (roughly 20 different varieties), peppers (mostly hot and about 12 varieties), corn ("White Eagle"), beans (14 varieties), onions ("Copra", "Red Zeppelin", "Sterling" and "Ailsa Craig"), and few other miscellaneous herbs and vegetables.

In order order to get more food socked away for the winter months, I doubled the amount of beans I usually plant. Beans are not only prolific and consistent producers, string beans blanch and freeze marvelously. I planted my beans (all string or fresh-eating varieties) in two major plantings and I'm currently in the middle of harvesting from the second planting. I have already picked and frozen 18 quarts of beans - and that's not counting the beans eaten fresh. The beans I grew this year were:

"Frijol" - I picked up numerous packets of this bean for $.010 a packet last fall. Excellent and tasty green bean with a fair second harvest.
"Dragon Tongue" - a yellow bean with purple mottling. Very tasty and prolific heirloom variety. It is a 3-year favorite.
"Jade" - a large tasty green bean that produces exceptionally. Another 3-year favorite. Open Pollinated.
"Soleil" - A new bean this year for me. This is a yellow french/filet bean. While I found this bean to have great taste, I would opt for other beans next year. The beans were much tinier than I like. Pick this one if you like dainty, baby veggies. Open Pollinated.

Pole - While I grew up with only bush beans growing in our vegetable garden, pole beans have become my favorite bean to plant. They are so varied, robust, prolific, and make the best use of garden space.
"Garden of Eden" - A new bean to the garden this year. Sweeter than the average flat, romano-type green bean. I'll plant this variety again. Heirloom.
"Helda" - is another green romano-type of bean. This one is another variety that I go out of my way to plant. Tender even when large. Open Pollinated.
"Purple Trionfo Violetto" - a deep purple bean that changes to a green color when cooked. I find this variety indistinguishable from the "purple podded pole" I usually plant. Either way, not only is this bean a good eating bean, it is very beautiful and ornamental. Heirloom.
"Trail of Tears" - a historic bean carried by the Cherokee people on the "Trail of Tears". A nice snap or dry bean. I like this bean so much from the last two years that I'm trying out another Cherokee vegetable variety this year, "White Eagle" corn which also was carried on the "Trail of Tears." Heirloom.
Rattlesnake - While those that are not fans of "legless reptiles" may not like the ophidian name this one has, its purple specked green pods are ornamental and of good taste. Another bean used for snap and dry beans. Heirloom.
"Gold of Bacau" - Another yellow romano bean I'm first trying this year. I find it indistinguishable from a long-standing favorite of mine "Goldfield." Heirloom.
Purple Podded Pole - A regular in my garden. The purple of the beans are so intense and yet it vanishes to be replaced by green so magically in the cook pot. Very good tasting and beautiful. Heirloom.
Goldfield - One of my favorites. The seed is not easy to find - I only know of two seed vendors that carry it, but I go out of my way to get the seed. I am a long-time fan of wax much so that any yellow bean is sure to become a favorite of mine. This is a romano type with long tender beans. This even second crops well.
"Kentucky Wonder Wax" - Another new one to the garden this year that will become a regular visitor I think. Long, fleshy, tender pods. This one can be used for "shelly" beans as well. Heirloom.
"Anellino Pole" - 'gold & green mix' - A perfect example that beans are viable for a number of years since I bought these two-three years ago. These are small beans but in an interesting crescent shape - a different look than most other beans have. A nice small-sized snap bean. Heirloom.

Enjoy the rest of your summer and maybe next year you'll find a little corner of your garden for a few of these wonderful beans!