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Friday, August 21, 2015

Runner beans

Observe and interact -- after you have pulled up the vines, watch and then harvest when about 80% of the pods have turned brown; otherwise many will split and spill before you get there. Store in a sunny window where rain cannot get to them until all turn brown; provide air circulation.

Catch and store energy -- The beans have made nutrients for you and saved seed for next year; the vines are chopped and dropped for sheet composting.

Obtain a yield -- Runners are not our most prolific crop in the garden but they are attractive to us and to pollinators, especially the hummingbirds, help provide partial shade, and we use them as a dry bean.

Apply self-regulation and accept feedback -- "Did you water those beans enough, honey?" "I thought I did, but now I'm not so sure."

Use and value renewable resources and services -- Drying the beans in the pod, and not planting other runner beans nearby, assures us of saved seed and a productive landrace.

Produce no waste -- vines are returned to the soil, beanpoles are gathered up for next year, pods will be returned to the soil.

Design from patterns to details -- the trellis provides sunlight and air circulation. The drying rack provides sunlight and air circulation.

Integrate rather than segregate -- the beanpoles were grown on the premises. Willow poles that sprout in the garden (none this year) are planted to make shade and predator protection for fowl, firewood, more poles, and willow water for plant growth hormones. Bark can also be used medically. Other poles (knotweed, maple, hazel) will be inspected for brittleness and the rejects will either become kindling or be returned to the soil. Tie bundles at each end to prevent warping.

Use small and slow solutions -- It takes a little time to grow establish a bed with a broadfork and compost, grow and cut poles, create a seed-saved landrace along with a supply of dry beans, but you can do it.

Use and value diversity -- the poles are not all one kind of wood. The beds are rotated and polyculture is included in the rotation. Grow many kinds of crops.

Use edges and value the marginal -- The knotweed, hazel, maple and willow, along with much of the vegetation gathered for compost, grow along fence lines or the creek/dry wash.

Creatively use and respond to change -- We used to grow bush beans but we like the way trellised beans help provide relief for other beds from the relentless sun in the ongoing drought. Water is becoming an issue as we are on a well and dependent on the annual rains, so it's time to put in rain barrels.

When you are done for the day, go have dinner.

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