One of the best 2009 garden surprises was Green Beans. Until this year, Green Beans had never had a prominent place in our garden. I always grew pole beans and because they grow vertically, I had always tossed them in somewhere as an afterthought amd/or companian planting. They never really had a space of their own. 2009 was the year where I started treating green beans like the garden staple that they can be.
On May 9th I planted our first green beans. It was a bush variety from seed savers exchange called fin de bagnol. I put them in an approx 12 sq foot section of raised bed in the sun garden. The first harvest from this batch was on 7/1, so we are looking at about 50 days from planting to harvest.
I did a nice job of succession planting with the green beans and because of that we had an endless supply of green beans throughout the season. The details of the plantings...
1. 5/9 Fin de Bagnol - harvest 7/1 - stopped producing and torn out on approx 8/15
2. 5/22 early bird garden - planted in sun garden - still producing in mid September
3. 6/7 slenderrette - in sun garden - still producing in mid September
4. 7/13 early bird garden - planted in sun garden (replanted after potatoe harvest) - still producing in mid September
5. 7/19 slenderrette - in sq foot garden #1 (replacement planting) - still producing
6. 6/30 (guesstimate) - various pole beans planted in the chimney garden on the tepee
7. 7/25 (guesstimate) - early bird garden beans in the sun garden (replacement planting for beets and carrots) - just beginning to produce now.
As of 9/15 our green bean harvest for the year has been a quite robust 30 pounds. If we are able to coax 5 more pounds out of this crop (and I think that is possible), green beans will finish the season as our third largest producer behind only tomatoes and onions. This is amazing considering I only dedicated 32 sq feet of sun garden space (1 1/4 rows) to this veggie. All my other planting locations were replacement plantings. This veggie matures fast enough and likes warmer weather, so it is ideal for replacing early spinach, potatoe, lettuce and chard plantings - perhaps even onions. As of 9/15 we have 14 pints of green beans canned in the pantry.
The quality of the beans this year were fantastic. We did a great job of harvesting regularly. Bush beans are easy to see and harvest. No ladder is necessary. So I bet we were harvesting on average 2 or 3 times weekly. Even the quality of our pole beans this year was way better than in the past.
Although we had several varieties of beans, I didn't find myself liking one variety more than the others. They all tasted about the same to me. I am sure a cooking snob could expouse the virtues of one over the others, but that didn't jump out to me.
We discovered a wonderful garden soup called hungarian green bean soup. It uses two veggies that arrive in quantity at exactly the same time (green beans and red potatoes), and it uses a ton of both. It is so tasty and different. It uses paprika and caraway seeds as its main spices. The flavor combinations are unlike anything that we get in any of our staple dishes, so it is a nice change of pace. We made a tom on this soup in July and August and it always impressed kids and guests.
There isn't a whole lot I would change about my green bean planting this year. Succession planting was the key to a long consistent harvest. My production was fantastic, so I don't need more garden space. In fact I may not dedicate a full sun garden plot to beans next year. Perhaps I will just do a half plot in late spring and then do my main plantings as replacements for the early spring veggies. The pole beans add a whole bunch of visual interest to the chimney garden and the variety is nice - that will continue also.