Beans of All Sorts





Heirloom pole beans once climbed over considerable competition while
vigorously struggling for water, nutrition, and light. Modern bush
varieties tend to have puny root systems.
_Sowing date:_ Mid-April is the usual time on the Umpqua, elsewhere,
sow after the danger of frost is over and soil stays over 60[de]F.
If the earth is getting dry by this date, soak the seed overnight
before sowing and furrow down to moist soil. However, do not cover
the seeds more than 2 inches.
_Spacing:_ Twelve to 16 inches apart at final thinning. Allow about
2[f]1/2 to 3 feet on either side of the trellis to avoid root
competition from other plants.
_Irrigation:_ If part of the garden is sprinkler irrigated, space
beans a little tighter and locate the bean trellis toward the outer
reach of the sprinkler's throw. Due to its height, the trellis tends
to intercept quite a bit of water and dumps it at the base. You can
also use the bucket-drip method and fertigate the beans, giving
about 25 gallons per 10 row-feet once or twice during the summer.
Pole beans can make a meaningful yield without any irrigation; under
severe moisture stress they will survive, but bear little.
_Varieties:_ Any of the pole types seem to do fine. Runner beans
seem to prefer cooler locations but are every bit as drought
tolerant as ordinary snap beans. My current favorites are Kentucky
Wonder White Seeded, Fortrex (TSC, JSS), and Musica (TSC).
The older heirloom dry beans were mostly pole types. They are
reasonably productive if allowed to sprawl on the ground without
support. Their unirrigated seed yield is lower, but the seed is
still plump, tastes great, and sprouts well. Compared to unirrigated
Black Coco (TSC), which is my most productive and best-tasting bush
cultivar, Kentucky Wonder Brown Seeded (sometimes called Old
Homestead) (STK, PEA, ABL) yields about 50 percent more seed and
keeps on growing for weeks after Coco has quit. Do not bother to
fertigate untrellised pole beans grown for dry seed. With the threat
of September moisture always looming over dry bean plots, we need to
encourage vines to quit setting and dry down. Peace Seeds and
Abundant Life offer long lists of heirloom vining dry bean
varieties.
Serious self-sufficiency buffs seeking to produced their own legume
supply should also consider the fava, garbanzo bean, and Alaska pea.
Many favas can be overwintered: sow in October, sprout on fall
rains, grow over the winter, and dry down in June with the soil.
Garbanzos are grown like mildly frost-tolerant peas. Alaska peas are
the type used for pea soup. They're spring sown and grown like
ordinary shelling peas. Avoid overhead irrigation while seeds are
drying down.





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