Ok, I’ll admit it, I adore beans and nothing gives me greater pleasure in my food garden than the twirling tendrils of climbing beans. I grow them all around my carport on twisty branches, twigs and sticks. For years, I have stuck to my favourites – Fagiolini Scrivi (aka beans with red scribbles, double beans, 7 year beans, lima beans), Yellow Lesotho Beans (I brought home a bag from Lesotho years ago) and some little creamy-brown cannelini type ones. Last year I grew some funky red speckled ones which I called Karoo Beans (I bought them at the Prince Albert market).
This year I branched out and was dissappointed. I got over excited ordering bean seeds from the fabulous Living Seeds catalogue. The dwarf yellow ones in the picture did well and were very tasty, though. The weather has been funny and my saved Fagiolini Scrivi seeds didn’t germinate the first time, the second time they all keeled over and only in December have the third sowing started to grow. Usually by now, my carport is disguised in a curtain of green. The Papa di Rola have done reasonably well and are climbing all over the roof (and trying to reach my washing line too), perhaps they don’t mind mist-belt weather? Look, I know you are supposed to rotate crops, but I only have one carport to grow things up, so what am I to do? Any ideas? I add lots of fresh compost and soil each year, but maybe I really do have to give the area a break from beans? I gave away a lot of Fagiolini Scrivi seeds this year – hope someone managed to grow some. Did you?
Friends nearby have had great success with different varieties, so it is probably just me. Susi Anderson had some purple bean seeds smuggled in from Germany (yes, we are guerrilla gardeners here) and they have produced the most gorgeous pods. Unfortuately, they lose their colour when cooked, but look so splendid on the vine, they are definately worth growing. Sharon Barnesly was given some Dutch bean seeds (more subversive seed sharing) by a Free State farmer whose daughter lives in Holland, and they have been an astonishing success. Producing very long beans prolifically, which taste great. She sold out very quickly at the Dargle Market last week and has blanched and frozen masses for later in the year.
According to the Living Seeds newsletter (which is really interesting and packed full of useful tips – do sign up to their mailing list if you are a keen food grower), you could still plant bush beans now for a second crop before Winter. I’m certainly going to try some more.
Country Life magazine has published an article about Dargle Local Living in their February edition. If you haven’t bought a copy, you can read it here. Dargle rocks!
PS Fagiolini Scrivi is not an official name – I made it up. So you won’t find it in a catalogue! You can buy them fresh in their pods at good green grocers, just wait for them to dry and then plant next year.