Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Aw, go soak yer phaseolus!

What's that? Them's fightin' words? Vulgar language? Not to us gardeners!

We're talking phaseolus vulgaris, better known as our friend the bean. It's time to start 'em in six-packs indoors, or even put them outside, if you haven't already. But first, just like you would for cooking, you want to soak them. OK, not precisely like you would for cooking, if you tend to do the boil-then-soak routine. Lukewarm or room temperature water, please, no boiling. Soak beans for planting no more than 12 hours. Overnight is ideal.

At that point, you can either plant directly, or you can put them in between damp paper towels to sprout slightly before planting. You have to be very careful not to knock the sprouts off if you do this. I've done it with peas routinely, but I usually just soak and plant beans.

The beans on the right are a mix of purple and yellow pod bush beans. The ones on the left are mung beans, also called noodle beans or yard-long beans. Cellophane noodles are made with the dried bean flour, but I'm growing them for the bean pods to use in stir-fry. I looked them up and they're not a phaseolus at all, they're a vigna, a vigna unguiculata to be precise. The folks at Wikipedia say they're a v. radiata, but I tend to trust the University of Melbourne bean specialists a bit more. I'm hoping they take to soaking as nicely as regular beans. This is the first year I've grown them. The beans, not the specialists. I've never grown specialists, as far as I know.

If you find beans that you like at the store, you can probably plant them. I set aside some Scarlet Runner beans and some Gigandes beans that a friend brought to me from Phipps Ranch. I soaked the first batch of Scarlet Runners last week, and I have some beanlets in 6-packs out in the greenhouse. Unfortunately several of them have been topped off by snails but I moved them up onto a shelf last night, and put copper tape around the legs of the shelf. And stomped a few ginORmous snails last night out in the rain.
I completely encourage you to try Scarlet Runners, btw-- the cooked bean tastes almost like chestnuts to me. It's a rich, complex flavor that has nothing to do with pintos in a can. I was wow'd, and said "These are SO going in my garden, toot sweet!" (Tuit de suite, but you know what I mean.)


Blogger Angela said...

Howdy from Sacramento! Thanks for the bean tips! I was wondering if you've seen any yellow or purple POLE bean seeds or plants anywhere. I haven't been able to find a single source online or locally for both. Purple and yellow BUSH beans are everywhere I turn, so that'll be a nice backup, but I'd like to find pole beans... soon! Got any favorite online sources? I should probably just hit a few more nurseries, but I figured I'd ask you since you seem culinarily (if that's a word)inclined...

8:22 AM PDT  
Blogger Strata said...

Thanks for the kind words, Angela! In fact, I planted some colored pole beans just a few days ago. Look in OSH, where they have rack displays of Renee's Seeds. She has a tri-color pole bean mix, with yellow, purple, and green pole beans. I've had very good luck with Renee's Seeds over the past couple of years.

11:51 AM PDT  
Blogger Strata said...

Renee's TriColor Pole Beans

11:54 AM PDT  
Blogger Angela said...

Thank you ever so much! Enjoying your blog!

1:06 PM PDT  
Blogger Angela said...

I ordered a bunch of seeds from Renee's and they came right away. They have so many colorful fruits, veggies and herbs! Thanks again for referring me to them. The Tricolor Pole Beans will be gorgeous and look tasty. I was a little worried that I wouldn't be able to tell the beans apart since they're in one seed packet, but each bean color has a different colored seed. The tricolor pepper seeds I ordered are color coded, which will help me keep track of what I'm planting. Seems to be true of all their mixed packets.

3:42 PM PDT  
Blogger Strata said...

Excellent, I'm glad you got the seeds you wanted. Post pix when they come up! I planted some of the tricolor bush beans, but something came by and *chomped* several. The subsequent ones are just starting to get true leaves-- I should go fill in the big gaping hole where the first 3 or 4 got eaten.

9:58 PM PDT  

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