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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Experimenting with Beans

Now that the bean growing season is over, I have trays of bean seeds drying and am assessing the varieties I grew and oogling online seed sources for something new to plant next year.   The Pacific Northwest has a cool climate in summer rather like that of Great Britain, so runner beans, Phaseolus coccineus, which are about the only beans that do well there, also excel here.   Insuk's Wang Kong scarlett runner beans have been my best producers.   I've also tried a couple of varieties of other red-flowered, purple to black seeded runner beans that can get longer and stay tender longer but were not as vigorous or productive.  Here is a former post about beans I grow.  IWK can actually throw a few white-seeded plants, I guess recessive genes.  I found a few this year in my harvest.   Because another distinction of runner beans is that they need cross-pollination to set seed, they also are harder to keep from crossing so it is better to grow only one variety at a time, though I am going to compromise by growing only white-seeded varieties next year if feasible.

Discussions on the GardenWeb legume forum have interested me in growing runner beans next year that have white seed and white blooms, in search of more delicate texture and marvelous nutty flavors.    I hope the hummingbirds are not too disappointed.   They love the red flowers.   White-flowered/seeded varieties are difficult to find from seed companies or else expensive, so I am attempting to circumvent these problems by growing seeds sold for cooking.   I bought 3 kinds of white runner beans and a fourth bean for cooking described as having a nutty taste, and just did an experiment trying to sprout the beans.  The source was Purcell Mountain Farms, who state that their beans will sprout.  The 3 white beans are, starting lower left and going clockwise, Corona (AKA Bianco di  Spagna), which sprouted well; Runner Cannellini, which did not sprout, turned a little brown, and smell bad; and Sweet Runner Cannellini, which developed several kinds of mold before finally sprouting a couple of beans; and the lower right is the beautiful brown mottled bean Spanish Tolosna, which is a chef's favorite for nutty flavor, and  sprouted 100% a couple of days before any of the runner beans.
I decided to try the sprouted beans in my aquaponics system, which currently just has basil plants.  If they succeed there I will post a photo.

So I am still perusing heirloom beans on various websites and will be trying some new beans for next year, which is very optimistic since rabbits decided my little bean plants were their favorite food last year.  I did find that putting netting over the seedlings kept the rabbits away.  I've decided I like the beans that have edible pods more than the shelly type of bean which develope tough pods which are not edible and must be shelled to eat just the bean.  Appalachian heirloom beans are supposed to be strong in the characteristic of the pod staying non-fibrous to a large size and even until the pods start to dry up, so they are my focus.

Happy seed shopping and garden planning,  Hannah

Garden Blogger's Bloom Day November 2012

There's not much blooming outdoors now, we had one small non-killing frost so far.   Some of the roses struggle on, I had a couple of magnificent blooms on Apricot Nectar but didn't take photos.  I'm taking a few cuttings and attempting to root some new plants.

A surprise was that Tithonia finally started blooming, one plant is as tall as me, but the flowers I expected to be red are only gold.
We had a slight frost last week that damaged some of the blossoms but did not kill the plant, so perhaps it can continue a while.  Since I started the seeds very early this year I don't know that I would bother to try to grow this again.

The magnificent Geranium Rozanne continues to bloom-

The fantastic bloomer Anemone tomentosa robustissima continues with a few blooms after starting in August.  I'm going to try dividing the fall Anemones next spring and making root cuttings, they are wonderful fall bloomers and over time spread into marvelous clumps.
Finally, a colored stalk of oregano, which is a very reliable plant even on a ramp as here, and with very little summer water-
I'm going to be sowing a lot of Oregano, Marjoram, and Lavender soon for next year to try to populate some weedy areas with tough plants that can hopefully suppress weeds.  I have had limited success with native plants and have decided the herbs will do better in those circumstances, having little summer water and fighting grass weeds.

I hope some flowers still grace your garden , to see what else is blooming around the world, join us at hostess Carol's May Dreams Gardens for "What's Blooming Now"!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Favorite Fall-Winter Windowsill Bloomers

Part of my windowsill bloomers are geared to bloom in the spring and summer, like my Hoya vine which pumps out blooms continually in that time frame, but now has entered a rest period, along with others.  But some plants are just beginning to shine.  My favorites would have to be Pelargoniums, Geraniums that are not hardy in my zone and therefore kept in pots.  They stay small, the two shown are part of three that resulted from dividing my plant that bloomed last year.   One of them already finished blooming.  I like to have them by my sink where I can enjoy their cheery blooms.

Another plant that mainly blooms in the summer but is holding on is Oxalis triangularis purpurea, but it likes to plaster itself to the window pane so flops without it, here propped with a hat.

Streptocarpus (Cape Primrose) possibly Amanda,  can bloom for a long time, here are the latest blooms

I put my Epiphyllum anguliger outside for a while in late summer, and perhaps that is why it is blooming profusely now.  It is on my aquaponics framework.  The blooms only last a day when fully open, and tend to flop, but smell divine.
Epi's are very easy to root from cuttings, even have preformed roots, and this one is also known as Rick Rack cactus, from the leaf formation as in this photo-

Finally, there is my Christmas cactus that blooms early, I keep it downstairs in a mostly unlit basement by a south-facing window.  The blooms look like a burst of birds in flight.

So, I am solacing myself from the change in seasons with my indoor garden blooms.  And this weekend is the end of daylight savings, how depressing is that?  Today I went out in the wet garden and transplanted bamboo.  I hope it takes.  It's my latest strategy in the war on weeds, occupy and conquer.

If you would like to show off some of your indoor flowers, feel free to put a link to your post in a comment.