Wednesday, May 22, 2024

Beans, beans, the magical (musical) fruit....

From north-to-south

One, 16' foot row of Blue Lake FM-1K pole bean.

16' of Musica Romano pole bean.

16' of Blauhilda Romano pole bean.

32' of Turkey Craw pole bean (Thanks Lucky!!!)

32' of Cherokee Cornfield pole bean.

16' of Red Greasy pole beans.

Total of 560 square-feet planted.

Native-American agriculture centered on large-seeded plants. Squash/pumpkins, maize, beans. Large seeds, large and vigorous plants that were able to duke-it-out with weeds and the wide seed-spacing was economical from a labor stand-point, especially given that Native-Americans did not have very many tools with metal edges.

Potatoes were rumored to have been grown as far north as Vancouver on the west coast circa 1800. Same deal about large and vigorous plants bursting out of the ground.

Not a bad thing to keep in mind if things get sporty. Gardens may have to be stealthy and rarely cared for. It is good to have plants that can fend for themselves (mostly).


  1. In processing 2nd half your comment about carrying capacity rings true.

    America has greatly overextended itself in capacity using massive amounts of petroleum products for tractor fuels, semi-truck fuels, electricity from natty gas and coals, fertilizer (yep mostly oil based) and even pesticides-weed control. Commercial freezers-home fridges alone really improved the duration of fresh foods being safely edible.

    Some of Grandmom's stories were about how leftovers from dinner were breakfast, covered by the tablecloth to keep flies of it. Sour bellies were not uncommon.

    Farming without them is shown by population today Vs 1860's before grid electricity and heavy oil use.

    Today 341,814,420

    1860 31,443,321 and not for lack of interest in large families, almost total lack of birth control, no abortions (unless you were crazy wealthy, Rockefeller level).

    The 3 sisters of Native American fame indeed used flour corn (not sweet eat it now stuff), winter squashes-pumpkins (not summer squashes) and dry beans to provide a decent mix of protein, vitamins (squashes Vit C+) and carbs.

    However, from my Cherokee Grandmother (married a square headed German LOL) stories a few points.

    They were semi-nomadic, slash and burn agriculture. When a site was too nasty from human waste and lack of wild game and soil fertility, they moved. Generally coming back after a couple of years to start again (fallow land restores).

    Cherokee children often did night guard on the fields to keep deer, rabbits and such away from the crops. They were rewarded to getting MEAT by killing those troublesome critters.

    Last fall I shot a woodchuck in my garden. He tasted pretty good as I knew to remove his scent gland properly. Gardener's revenge is a tasty sauce.

  2. My wife was just delighted when she learned I had taught my twins that little jingle. Remus talked about scattered garden patches left to themselves. Roger

  3. My gardening strategy is finding what likes to grow here, and growing that. I've already brought in a small crop of white beans, volunteer squash are setting fruit, and volunteer tomatoes are a weed.

    Corn (an Indian variety) I planted 2" deep Friday is already popping up. I'll be trying the sisters method on this test patch.

  4. We always plant Kentucky Wonder pole beans, love the flavor as a fresh bean, and they are reliable producers. We save some beans to plant, they always sprout. We’ve tried a few others from the farm stand but liked these best.
    Butternut squash is another standby for us. Always grows, withstands bugs and fungus, decent producer, and the squashes keep for winter. I can any we don’t use.
    Southern NH

  5. I rather like the Blue Lake beans. Probably because they're less work. My mother like Half Runners. I can remember evening after evening sitting on the back porch, stringing and breaking them into thirds, in the dark. After you'd done a couple of bushels in the daylight, you don't need the daylight.

    Best green beans we ever had was this duke's mixture my dad planted one year. Bits and pieces of various packages he had in a drawer. Pole and bush beans. That mixture was so-o-o good.

  6. OMG I think I buggered up my back just looking at those weights…

  7. I'm new to gardening and still trying to figure things out so the answer to this question might be obvious to those with more knowledge. If so, please forgive my ignorance.

    How do you control for cross pollination when planting so many varieties? I saved some tomato and bean seeds last year and had terrible germination rates - around 20%. From what I've read, the likely reason is that I planted multiple varieties and didn't allow enough space (my garden in 16x24') between varieties.


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