Garden Role Call

True Red Cranberry Bean:  qualified success

The vines didn’t do nearly as well as last year – the newly-ordered beans were covered by bacterial inoculant intended to ensure the plants had plenty of access to their symbiotic, nitrogen-fixing bacteria.  It worked quite well, but unfortunately those bacteria were in the upper layers of soil.  The large raised beds that came as a legacy with the house dried into hard, solid clay unless they were constantly watered, so I removed most of the raised topsoil – which also removed the bacteria.  As a result, the plants were noticeably less prolific and had fewer, smaller beans.  I should have enough to replant for next year, though.

Scarlet Runner Bean:  failure

The vines grew, but they persist in losing all of their flowers without setting pods.  It seems runner beans prefer a cooler, moister climate – one more like England, where they are very popular – similar to their South American highland understory origins.  I doubt they’ll give us any beans at all.

Rat-Tailed Radish:  qualified success

They grew enthusiastically, despite being crammed too close together, and produced lots of tender green seedpods that reminded me of spicy green beans.  I was told it’s important to pick them small, but I didn’t realize how small – the pods turn woody and unpalatable quite quickly, about when they become around two and a half inches long.  Considering that the pods are often closer to six inches when they’re mature, that should give you an idea of how early the harvest needs to be.  I left most of the pods on the plant for too long.  Next year, I’ll have a better idea of how to use the bounty I’m given.

Garlic, unknown:  success

The two-year-old plants grown from bulbils matured very satisfactorily, and produced bulbils of their own.  The strain I found in the nearby nature preserve didn’t have purple stamens, which I am given to understand is an indication of pollen fertility.  The seed project needs more cultivars to move forward.  Cloves are pretty tasty, so that should tide me over until I can start breeding my own strains.

Amish Paste tomato:  success

I suspect the plants would be truly amazing if I could provide the plants with rich, moist soil.  The lack of sufficient compost material seriously hindered the tomato’s growth.  One of my neighbors gets silt from a nearby river for his plants, and they grow beautifully – I may have to try something similar.  The fruits are elongated, something like Roma tomatoes, with relatively firm and dry flesh.  They’d be good sliced on a sandwich.

Mouse Melon:  failure

Never came up.  I shouldn’t have tried planting all of the seeds at once.  We’ll see how it goes next year.


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