Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘heirloom’

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.

Read Full Post »

Just in time for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by the talented Pille, we celebrate the beginning of the fall and winter greens season with some heirloom lettuce and a great salad greens that is often overlooked: mustard!

The cool weather coming in is the best time for growing delicious green things for salads, sandwich layers, and garnishes. Our lettuces, which hid from the summer heat, are starting to peek out from where they self-seeded. In the meantime, we’ll plant to make up the difference!

Pictured here, on top of some Early Girl tomatoes (which are ripening late, under floating row cover), are fresh leaves of Forenschluss and Cimmaron romaines, and a crinkly red mustard leaf.

Mustard is the great “sleeper green” of the instant gourmet and adventuresome home gardener. Leaf mustard, unlike mustard grown for seed or as a cover crop, has broad leaves that range from mildly zingy to mule-kick strong. The variety I chose, sheerly for robust good looks, is Red Giant, and falls somewhere between those two extremes. I find the leaves by themselves too strong, but they layer nicely between a couple of romaine leaves in a lunchtime sandwich. The zingy pick-me-up of mustard leaves can let one skip the prepared mustard or mayo, handy for a bag lunch brought to work.

If you can grow lettuce, you can grow leaf mustard. Look for it on racks of Botanical Interests gorgeous illustrated seed packets, where Giant Southern and Giant Red are prominently displayed, as well as Mizuna, a sawtooth-leaved oriental cooking mustard green. In your local Asian market, look for “Gai Choi”. Mustards come in a gorgeous palatte of colors and textures, too. High Mowing’s Organic mustards include the stunning Purple Osaka and their striking “Hotshot” mix.

I picked up six-pack sets of lettuces and mustards at our community garden’s fall plant sale. Forenschluss, which means “Speckled Belly”, is a beautiful variegated romaine with an upright, compact habit. The bronze tones of Cimmaron go very well with Forenschluss, so I’ve planted them in alternating rows in my garden.

Read Full Post »