Some folks have their vegetable gardens planned, and still have empty space.
What to plant?
If you have space for about a 15-foot row, think about growing some beans for drying. In that amount of space, you could harvest about a pound of shelled dry beans if you plant Calypso (or Yin Yang, perhaps the same bean with different names), Bumble Bee or Jacobs Cattle bush beans. The year I grew these, I harvested about a pound and a half out of a 15-foot row of Vermont cranberry beans.
I did not use inoculant, but if you were to use a bean inoculant, you should harvest even more than what I did. Bean inoculant should be mixed with the seed before planting. It consists of rhizobia microbes, and will enable the plant to use nitrogen from the air for fertilizer.
These varieties were dependably bush beans for me, not putting out half runners that will latch onto cages for peppers or other plants. They grow to about 16 to 18 inches tall and tend to topple over, so make sure what youre planting them next to will not be smothered or shaded out by these plants.
Plant about June 1, and harvest on or before September 1. I harvest when I see some pods that are brown and dry. Pods are easy to miss, so pull out or cut off the plants, turning them to make sure youve harvested all pods, green and dry. Those filled-out pods that are not yet completely dry may be spread out to dry on a table, in a greenhouse, etc., to complete drying. You can shell beans while watching television. Cutting off the plants leaves roots to decay and add organic matter to the soil.
If you set up jars, each with a different variety of dried bean, then take a small handful of each of several varieties, youll find youve concocted the basis for a great bean soup. Add a little summer savory herb, a smoked ham hock if you like, and youll have a very nutritious and great-tasting meal. Even though theres a size disparity in dried beans, theyll all cook by 6 p.m. if you bring them to a boil at 3 for two minutes, let them rest and soak, and start simmering them at 4 p.m.
If youre to grow pole beans, Id strongly urge you to pre-plant them in individual pots before setting them out. Two years ago, I grew some Tarbais cassoulet beans (seed from Seed Savers Exchange) from plants started indoors. This year I wanted to grow more, and set out plants too early, Jack Frost nailed them, so I planted bean seeds outdoors. This year from that direct sowing I harvested less than half the amount I grew the year before.
Incidentally, twine trellises get expensive when you have to discard them after one use. I finally set up two trellises with hog fencing for the mesh. Its fairly easy to untangle and remove old vines from wire mesh.
If you set up trellises on an east-west exposure, once the vines have covered it the entire setup is a sail, vulnerable to wind. My two trellises are set up inside raised beds, with a north-south exposure. We do get winds from those directions, but not as strongly or regularly as from the east and west. East and west winds will strike the knife edge of the trellises.
Dried beans dont require special storage after shelling, and they can last a very long time without being canned or frozen. Theyre very nutritious, with zero cholesterol, and nutrients packed densely into beans, vitamins, minerals, proteins, macronutrients, fiber, flavonoids, and lignans. Some help reduce heart disease, certain cancers, and osteoporosis. Theyre also beneficial in a diabetic diet.
Send garden questions to email@example.com or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.