Monday, January 3, 2011

Planning Stage

I dreaming of my next garden. This past year's garden wasn't so hot due to neglect. Our three grand kids took up most of our time and energy as they still manage to do but they will be a bit older this summer. That I hope will mean I will be free to work in my garden more and I'm also hoping our daughter, their mom, will have a new job by then which will allow her more time with her children and me more time of my own.

But oh how I love these little girls. The youngest is on my lap with a raging fever and you know what Kirk and I've gotten done, yup, absolutely nothing holding her. Okay, maybe not nothing as my brain has been busy as usual. Most of what has occupied my thoughts and spare moments is planning for next summer. I've searched the Internet for a new hatchery due to the extrememely poor production of the hens we bought. They just aren't what they use to be from that company. I've found many that require you to buy at least a hundred, or they sell straight runs only, and others don't have the breeds I want. If I'm going to have extra chickens, they're going to be meat birds not laying breed roosters and I'm pretty set on the breeds I want.
I heard on the radio today to expect $5.00 a gallon gas sometime in the next two years even though the USA is swimming in oil. That will change a lot of things we do since it is so very far from town to town around here. We'll have to rethink food as the prices of it will skyrocket. That includes livestock feed. So my garden will begin to incorporate more feed for the chickens along with more efficiently feeding us. Why the chickens? I figure they are a good place to start. I enlarge the garden by quite a bit last year and put some of that new ground into buckwheat as a green manure. This year I'm going to grow some buckwheat to eat and feed the chickens along with a little wheat, sunflowers along the North fence and Kale which is frost hardy.

Then my mind began to focus on the problem of green beans. I've far too many in jars in the basement. We don't need more this summer, except to eat fresh. I wasn't happy with the green bean strain we grew last year but the Dragon's Tongue was a huge hit, eaten as a fresh bean. Such a huge hit that it never made it to the dried bean stage. It canned up with success too and so this year we will grow enough for some fresh, some for seed, and some for dried beans.

But now I'm not satisfied with just them. I think I'll adventure into dried beans. Something I've only done once and not with great success. My choices weren't too wise.

This time I've been studying my two seed catalogues and delving into the Internet to research them further. During the journey, I found a couple more I want to try. Now the ticket is to find someone who sells them all. Probably won't happen but I'm determined to give these new ones a try. The criteria I judged each bean by was the length of growing season it required as ours is very short, if it could be eaten fresh and dried, and last if it fit one of the categories of beans we typically eat. Though a couple of the choices can't be eaten as a fresh bean, I still want to give them a try since they are a type we eat or just have really peaked my interest. Yet, I haven't picked a northern or navy bean in the bunch,. I'm hoping one of my choices will fill in the recipes I would typically use them for. If you know of amy information on these beans, please give me some feed back. I'd love to know more before I commit myself, especially if I'm making a mistake.

One choice is Black Valentine, 53 days. It is a bush bean that can be eaten fresh and eaten dried. It will fill in for the black beans we eat in Mexican dishes if it is a success. I also figure maybe I'll grow green beans one year, enough for two years of eating, and then dried the next with a little adjusting to crop harvests.

The next one is a buttery tasting bean, from the Hutterites and named after them. It is a type of butter bean.

Third, the Hidatsa Red Bean. It is from the North Dakota Indian tribe of the same name. It is a a type of kidney bean and though it is a bush bean, it has a tendency to sprawl. That is why the Indians planted it with their corn. I'm determined to plant my corn this year in hills along with a bean plant to grow up their stalks. With an 80 to 90 day maturity, that beats the regular kidney beans 100 to 120 days. It might just work for us.

Since beans have the female part which matures up through the male part fertilizing it, all before the blossom opens, I feel safe growing so many types of beans in my medium sized garden without fear that my beans will cross-pollinate with another kind of bean. The above kinds are all Heritage types dating way back.

Jacob's Cattle is another one I'm flirting with the idea of growing. It is at the bottom of my want to try list right now and I'm not so sure I want to try so many different kinds all in one year. So unless one of you changes my mind, I think I'll stick with Dragon's Tongue, Black Valentine, Hutterite, and Hidatsa Red beans.

And while I'm asking, have any of you tried the Sequoia Purple Bush bean or the Purple Queen? They are suppose to be a purple colored fresh bean that can be planted earlier than the typical green beans. We often have cold springs and it would be handy.

Hopefully, the little one will feel better tomorrow and I can show you the cool elk horn buttons my husband made for the sweater I knitted for him.

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