By Roger Erpelding
You might say that this week in the garden has been worth a hill of beans–or worth several rows of them, for that matter. Due to warm weather, and an inch of rain earlier this week, I knew it was time to pick beans again on Wednesday, July 13. It was approaching 9:00, I was tired, and didn’t know what I’d find in the bean rows. But it was wonderful–I found plenty. I think I finished about half of the job, and had more than enough for dinner tonight. They will be as tasty as the ones I had last Sunday night. I also told Beth that whatever happens I must pick beans again tonight–the 15th–or they’ll be too mature and unfit to eat.
I know this as I was working alongside the beans on Thursday night. I had recently read in a garden book about planting in blocks. As it turns out, the space which grew the radishes, spinach and lettuce was long and rather narrow. Instead of planting beans in one or two long north-south rows, what about several east-west short rows? Since I was going to plant in a narrow space anyway, why not plant in a block? I didn’t plant them in a true block, but the rows are close enough together they will grow as a block by default.
Instead of using sticks and strings, I used other markers–bordered by the fence on the north, the beans on the west, and the carrots on the east. I worked southward, and soon lost the fence as a marker. I used a large trowel, and loosened the soil in the west to east pattern I wanted to establish. The weeds had already begun to come back, and this gave me a good opportunity to get their roots as well. Once I loosened the soil I made a trench with the trowel and my hand. The beans went into the trench, about one inch deep, and were covered with soil. This loose soil became my northern landmark for subsequent rows. I kept moving southward until the seeds were gone. I didn’t get as far as the south fence, nor did I intend to. Toward the south fence the soil is not quite as good, and the area will be shaded by the large leaves of the voodoo lilies.
In my previous entry, I raved about Blue Lake 274 bush beans. After the second picking, and the third that will occur tonight, I am absolutely convinced that this is the green bean for me. Having said that, I tried two new bean cultivars in my second planting. In the north four rows, I planted a packet of Derbybush green beans. In the south four rows, I planted Jadebush green beans. This will be a good test for them. I also have some Blue Lake left in my original large package I ordered earlier this year, and if I have space, they will be planted as well.
I also took the occasion last night while I was in the garden to sprinkle more blood meal on the potted pepper plants. If that brings a rain, I’ll be mighty pleased. With no rain and hot weather in the forecast for the next week, the meal will be pretty safe. I’ll water the peppers this weekend, but I’ll do so by hand with the hose, hitting the soil only and sparing the leaves.