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Last year, the first year of the Seed Saving Project, I chose Ireland Creek Annie beans.  I mainly picked it for the name. I’ve only tried growing beans once in the past and I harvested one bean pod per plant and only five seeds had germinated – not even enough for a meal. It was time to try again.

In 2009, I had much better luck. I harvested enough beans to supply a number of packages for Seedy Saturday as well as a couple of cups to try in recipes. I have to say I am not a dry bean expert and my Ireland Creek Annie creations were not that successful.

Ireland Creek Annie beans are an early and reliable producer. They are supposed to make their own thick sauce when cooked. They are disease resistant and non-staking. All this sounds wonderful but I obviously don’t have the right ideas for cooking them.

I will probably grow some more to see what other recipes I can experiment with but because the idea of Seedy Saturday is to swap seeds, I am planning on swapping them for one of the other dry beans in the Seed Saving Project. I think I’ll try Neabel, a Ukrainian dry bean that grows six feet tall (an advantage in my small garden).

That’s the wonderful thing about Seedy Saturday. If you don’t find the type of bean or pea or whatever that you grew to be suitable for your cooking methods and taste, you can trade it in for another type that also grows well in Powell River.

Beans are easy for seed saving. You leave them on the plant until the pods are dry and brown, then harvest them. The pods are easy to break open for the seeds. The seeds should be dry and hard.

At the Kale Force seed packing party a couple of weeks ago, Ed brought in some Purple Peacock Pole Beans. I couldn’t resist that name and scooped up a few seeds. I discovered that they grow six feet tall, have light purple flowers and dark leaves. The pods are dark purple and turn green when cooked. They should be fun to try. And they will be available at Seedy Saturday if you are intrigued by the name too.

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2009 was a great growing season!

Hope that you, had a successful seed saving season as well.
What seeds did you save?

As a food security enthusiast, I have an assortment of vegetable, especially heritage variety dry bean and peas, which I obtained through the Powell River 2009 pilot project.

These seeds were purchased from Dan Jason and his excellent West Coast seed company, Saltspring Seeds. Plus I’ll be bringing some other vegetable varieties, herbs and flowers to swap with our seed saving community next week.

Wednesday, Dec. 2 at Vancouver Island University, 7-9 p.m.

Seed Savers of Powell River invite both previous participants in Seed Saving Project 2009 and new seed savers to a Networking event.

Wednesday Dec. 2, 2009 7:00 p.m.
Vancouver Island University, Powell River Campus, Room 150.

This networking event gives the seed-saving community, the chance to obtain each others’ seeds and to plan what to grow for 2010. Please bring your extra seeds
to swap with other members of the project. Members saved vegetable varieties in the beet, chard, pea, bush and pole snap and dry bean and squash families. Also bring along your suggestions and seeds of other vegetables you saved, to share with others. Herbs, tomatoes and peppers are especially welcome. If you know other people keen to join a network of dedicated seed savers, please pass this invitation along to them too.

The Powell River Farmers’ Institute(sponsor of Seedy Saturday) provides free envelopes to help keep track of the seeds grown in the Seed Saving Project 09. Envelopes will be available at the meeting.

A stamp is available to mark your envelopes with “Seed Saving Project”. Near the bottom of the envelope, write the first initial of your first, middle and last name as a CODE, identifying you as the grower of the seeds. For example: If your name is Mary Lou Smith, your CODE will be MLS. These grower codes will be entered into the Project database. These codes will help keep track of information about the seeds like: who is trying to save what seeds plus how well the seeds do from year to year. This information will help us to become better seed savers and build our network.

After the Dec. 2 meeting, your extra seed envelopes can be used for
swapping or donation at Seedy Saturday. See you on Dec. 2!

Here’s a list of the vegetable varieties included in our community seed-saving project.
Of course, we encourage people to save seeds of any of their favorite vegetable, flower, herb, tree etc. seeds.

This list was arrived at by knocking a couple of experienced local market gardeners’ heads together last fall. Then running our choices past Dan Jason, experienced seed saver and owner of the Saltspring Seeds.

With our focus on enhancing local food security, we chose vegetable varieties that were both relatively easy to grow and save seed from.

Plenty of beans, peas for inexperienced seed savers to learn how to save seed. And then a number of beets/chard and squash varieties, that it is difficult for an individual seed saver to save more than one variety of each type of vegetable. Per year.

A network of local seed-savers, increases more varieties of vegetables for swapping.

Here’s the list:

1)Beets(Lutz Winterkeeper, Detroit Red, Early Wonder Tall-top)

2)Chard(Rainbow, Rhubarb, Bietina(Italian)

3)Peas(Oregon Sugar Pod/Sugar Pea(edible pod) Green Arrow(fresh shelling) Carlin(dry soup) China(Snow)Sapporo(Japanese Shelling Pea)

4)Beans (Pole(green, wide Celina), Pole Blue Lake), Pole Dry(Neabel), Fava(Andy’s Broad), Dry Bush, (Ireland Creek Annie, Odawa, Jacob;s Cattle,Beka Brown, Kidney-Red/White,Ukraine, Monetezuma Red, Coco) Bush(Honey Wax) and green, (Jade)

5) Squash-
Moschata-Butternut
Pepo-Table King Acorn, Sweet Dumpling Delicata, Spaghetti,
Maxima-Hokkaida -Buttercup, Baby Blue Hubbard,
Golden Hubbard

I’ve been growing a drying pole bean for a couple of years that seems to have some variety name confusion.

The one I’ve been growing came originally from either the PR or CV Seedy Saturday labeled “Ukrainian Pole Bean”. It’s a strong grower, would easily go past 8 feet if I let it, productive, the pods go from green to red and cream-striped as they dry down. Seeds are mostly white with maroon flecks, but there are some which are maroon with white flecks. As they age, the white areas on the seeds darken to a brownish pink but the darker maroon flecks are still obvious. A few plants in each planting seem to stay very low and set beans near the ground.

I also have two other types of bean seed which look identical. One was labeled “Bull Hunk” (which might be a misprint for “Bohunk”), the other “Uncle Jim’s Pole Bean”. When I grew them out the plants looked identical to Ukrainian Pole and the behaved the same way, resulting seeds looked identical too. So, they may all be the same thing.

A bit of online searching doesn’t turn up any reference to a bean called bohunk or bull hunk, and the only Ukrainian pole bean is one called “Neabel’s” from Salt Spring Seeds or Annapolis Valley Heritage Seeds. No picture, but the description says “Very pretty maroon speckled two-toned beans. A heavy yielding pole variety” which certainly describes this one I have.

Any other ideas about this variety? Has anyone else been growing it?