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This week’s Garden Desktop doesn’t amount to a hill of beans. Well, actually, wait, it DOES. Several hills, in fact!

This past weekend I finally shucked the beans I had drying on a table out on our porch. There are big white and brown Painted Lady beans from the side yard. These did so well, and are so delicious, that I will grow them on ALL the carport pillars next year, rather than on just one. The hummingbirds love the half-white, half-red flowers, too.

The big pink/red and brown beans are Scarlet Runner beans, whose all-red flowers are so popular with the hummies that they fight over them! They are wonderful to create a shady arch or temporary patio cover. I’ve been thinking of pulling up a couple of the foot-square pavers on our back patio and planting Scarlet Runners there on arches, to make a little afternoon nap nook. I have to figure out first if it will shade the veggie garden beds, though. I don’t want that!

The smaller rounder beans are the heirloom that I call Monte’s Italian, the nth generation of those given to us by our photographer and diver friend Monte Smith. They hybridize readily, so this year we tried to be careful about growing them away from the other beans. Even so, we got a few crosses with the Scarlet Runners, as shown by some of the pink rounded beans, and possibly with the Painted Lady as well– the beans are usually a creamy tan color with one to three small dark-brown streaks, and some of them are suspiciously paler, and more similar to the Painted Lady beans in color.

Last year’s bean drying, didn’t take a pic of this year’s.

I saved bean seed earlier in the year, and made sure to save from long, well-formed, plump pods with a minimum of 5 beans per pod. I was usually able to save 2 or 3 seeds of a 6 or 7 pod bean. Last year I just shelled them all and picked out the plumpest beans, and then realized “doh!”, I was only selecting for part of the story!

As always, feel free to use and share this Garden Desktop. It’s okay to link and publish with a link back and/or attribution, and to use in print for personal or nonprofit use. There’s a 1280 x 960 version for larger desktops too.

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I’m really fond of thyme, and even more so of citrus-flavored thyme. This lime thyme started out as a 4-inch pot in 2003, and was then planted in the ground, where it became a large clump. When we had to move planters for the neighbor’s fence, it turned out that the thyme was right where the fence would go. I was able to uproot it in a cluster and re-pot it. Here is 1024×768 lime thyme desktop.

Harvest thyme in the morning, before the sun hits it, and let the sprigs dry on a saucer or in a colander. It’s easiest to strip the tiny leaves from the stems when thyme is partially dry– when fully dry, the stems break, and you end up with little sharp bits in the thyme. Here’s some English thyme I harvested this past fall, next to some variegated sage.

English thyme, lemon thyme, and variegated thyme are all pleasant additions to one’s garden beds, where they will provide welcome spring greenness and summer flowers that draw the bees. In sunny, hot portions of the Bay Area, put thyme somewhere that it will get some shade, preferably in the hottest portion of the day. A deep pot, which lets thyme trail over the sides, makes it easy to relocate your thyme to compensate for the area’s somewhat extreme seasonal sun and temperature changes. Thyme loves dampness, unlike many other herbs, and does really well in a self-watering planter.

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