This bean has considerable potential for the market garden.
According to Suzanne Ashworth, author of “Seed to Seed,” Scarlet Runner Bean (Phaseolus coccineus) has numerous attributes that set it apart:
it originated in Central America. The dry bean, characterized as mealy, is part of the local cuisine in some places there;
widely used in England as a snap bean, and green shelly bean;
in colder climes, the tuberous roots can be dug up, stored in damp sand, and replanted in spring – this way, it will produce much more quickly than those planted by seed;
fairly easy to shell by hand;
they attract numerous pollinators.
Saving the seed
Ashworth notes that bean seed is fairly easy to save. Frozen storage is essential, as bean weevils tend to lay their eggs in the pods. The eggs die off after three days at 0°. If they hatch, one could lose all of the seeds. Before freezing, ensure that the beans are entirely dry: take several beans, place on a hard surface. Hit each with a hammer. If they shatter (instead of being squashed), they are ready to freeze. When removing from frozen storage, do not open the airtight container in which they are stored, because they’ll take in too much moisture at once. Wait 12 hours.
These beans were taken in after several days of rain. They were swollen with water. I let them dry inside out of direct sunlight for a week. Most of them seem dry enough to store, but I’ll do the hammer test and sacrifice a few.
I’m looking forward to growing these next year. I’d like to see if I could train them up an elderberry (though I may have to prune them back considerably as the elder give off considerable shade). I could also experiment with the indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa); but this would be a true experiment, as I’ve never intercropped with two legumes.
For a while, I dreamed to developing a cold hardy perennial bean, by crossing P. coccineus with P. polystachios, thicket bean, which is a native perennial. This could still be an opportunity.
Edit: this post was originally titled “Purple Hyacinth Bean” – I continue to get those two names mixed up, though they are completely different genus and species, and the purple hyacinth bean is toxic. My apologies.
Thermopsis villosa syn caroliniana (Blue-Ridge Buckbean, Carolina golden banner, Carolina bush pea, Aaron’s rod). Seeds from Prairie Moon had a very nice germination rate (they arrive scarified). They came with a Thermopsis inoculum (which is the same as for Baptisia inoculum, perhaps indicating their genetic proximity). Thirty day cold-moist stratification. Scarify with sandpaper or by pouring boiling water and let sit overnight.
This plant brings happiness to my heart.
Our Thermopsis flowered for the first time in the garden this Spring. I have saved seeds, and am nervous because that means I (may) need to scarify them myself. The Prairie Moon accession, I sowed in flats in February, and was pleased to see them germinate in March or so. After that, I ran out of time, so they were largely on their own until yesterday, October 28. Of the ones that made it the first month, there was zero loss.
I may go ahead and sow the collected seeds (“Megadiverse” accession? -not yet) now, to see if I can circumvent scarification.
The above map from Weakley (2015) indicates that Thermopsis is endemic to a small portion of Appalachia. It’s southerly reach indicates to me that it may thrive in our climate zone, 7A. A goal of mine (really a quest) is to locate a naturally-occurring population of this plant in Rockingham County, thus indicating that it’s reach is a bit more easterly than determined.
Yesterday was fall planting day. Not too much – the trees included a downy serviceberry (Amelanchier arborea) and a pawpaw (Asimina triloba) from the UNC Arboretum accession, as well as two other pawpaws from Mellow Marsh native nursery. I also planted numerous Blue Ridge buckbean (Thermopsis villosa), indigo bush (Amorpha fruticosa), figwort (Scrophularia marilandica), and mad dog skullcap (Scutellaria lateriflora).
This relatively leisurely Saturday presented the opportunity to photographs various features of the farm, now that lots of weeds have died back.
Farmers and gardeners are best suited planning out next year’s planting and harvest during the current cycle. We must reflect early and often, and organize these reflections into plans for next season. This is especially true for market farmers who juggle a diversity of specialty crops for a small-town niche public.
I’ll not do Habaneros again, but I may stick with the Matchbox. I was not pleased with the bell peppers, even though they were nematode-resistant Carolina Wonder hybrids. I will probably continue with the Truhart sweet pepper, but I may explore the frying/stuffing peppers such as Gamba or Marconi.
Tomatoes (no pictures here) – I’ll stick with the Cherokee purple, and, since it is the popular low-acid variety here, the German Johnson. I put in numerous blue varieties, but was less-than-satisfied with their size, color (not blue!), and taste. I tried.
The above three photos are all taken from the goji row, interplanted with various herbs and volunteers. It seems that goji berry does well in North Carolina in the latter part of summer and early fall. It is a difficult plant to figure out. It sends runners up to 5 feet. It has long, spindly growth that may or may not stand upright, and thorns. It also sells for $15 a pound. I’m not going to give up altogether on it, but I’ve got to figure out how it fits into our farm.
It took me a minute to identify this one. Ubiquitous in all open spaces around the farm – it can get to 5 or 6 feet if it doesn’t topple over. These pictures don’t do it justice – from afar, it looks like a living snowdrift. And up-close, it is a pollinator magnet – particularly bees. The honeybees love it! But so too do all manner of bumblebee.
I feel fairly certain that this is Symphyotrichum pilosum, heath aster or white oldfield aster.
Here, it’s upright growth habit may be evident. Again, this one is not flower as prolifically as a typical specimen in the area.
This botanical illustration is what helped me conclude that this was S. pilosum. the forb-like growth on the right is indicative of young growth (about 6-8 inches) for the first few weeks or months – somewhat misleading as to how the plant will turn out.