Leguminosae Family: Part One | BEANS
Learning to grow your own food does not have to be scary and confusing. The purpose of this series, "Grow What You Eat" was developed from our desire to take the mystery out of growing your own food.
When explaining how plants are classified, we do not intend to get down into the weeds, trust and believe, there will be plenty of that once you start growing food. However, we will admit that if you take a stroll back to middle school for a minute and remember basic taxonomy, it will help everything make more sense in the end. We get it... Who in their right mind would actually want to go back to middle school? But I promise, this will be worth it. And you just might get the girl this time.
Do you remember the acrostic phrase, "Dear King Phillip Came Over For Grape Soda"? Where the first letter of each word represents a hierarchy level in the taxonomy triangle.
Domain - Kingdom - Phylum - Class - Order - Family - Genus - Species
Very good, you survived with no wedgy and now we can move on.
Vegetables in the Leguminosae Family include beans, peas, lentils and even peanuts and in this short article, we are going to simply talk about the common BEAN.
(Leguminosae, Phaseolus, vulgaris.)
Did you know that food in the Leguminosae Family, or commonly referred to as legumes, and is the second most vital food source for all of mankind? I got that from a really cool book titled, Seed To Seed, by Suzanne Ashworth. If you are interested in learning more about the foods you are going to grow, including saving seeds and creating a completely self-sustaining system, check it out here. And so you know, this is an Amazon affiliate link, (https://amzn.to/3WerkeR) and when you purchase using this link, it helps out this page a lot (at no extra cost to you.) So be a champ.
Green Bean or Dry Bean
The first thing to consider, is whether you want a green bean, or a dry bean.
Green beans are harvested and eaten, ding ding ding - green.
Whereas dried beans are left to dry so that the edible bean is harvested dry. We have found that there is a little bit of trial and error when it comes to harvesting dried beans because you want to harvest the bean when it doesn't require an entire weekend to cook it down to something that can actually be eaten. No worries, if you miss this window, you can still harvest the dried been and store it as a future seed. Don't worry, you will learn that the hardest part of gardening is planting the seed, and the rest will work itself out. The seed wants to grow, but it needs you to put it in the earth. You got this!
Bush or Pole?
Next, determine how you want your beans to grow. Green bean and dried bean varieties grow in either the bush or vining habit. The vining habit is often referred to as "pole" or "runner" because many gardeners will use a pole of some sort to trellis the vining bean to contain it.
The bush varieties will mostly be contained to a width of 1-2 feet, and usually have shorter time for days to maturity. Days to maturity is the length of time it takes to harvest the plant. Most bush varieties are determinate, which means that once the plant gives a good push of beans, it will be time to pull it and start another seed. We recommend that you time your plants so that when you are done harvesting, you can drop a new seedling in its place immediately. Many seasoned gardeners that plan on preserving their beans will plant bush varieties because all of the plants will come to maturity within a week of each other.
On the other hand, a pole variety is the choice for many gardeners that do not have a lot of space for multiple bushes because there is more real estate when growing upwards. Because beans are loved by both beneficial and non-beneficial insects, you may consider growing a pole variety to keep most of the plant not so close to the ground. The pole varieties typically have longer days to maturity and are most commonly indeterminate. Which means, they will continue growing and pushing out beans as long as they are frequently harvested from and / or you, pests or disease take them out. The pole varieties would be a great choice for a gardener that is looking to harvest just enough for a weekly dinner... or two, depending on the number of plants. Also, we love growing pole varieties because of the creative ways to trellis them. There is truly nothing like walking under a tunnel of food!
"Vegetables in the Leguminosae family ... second most important source of food for mankind" – Seed to Seed, Suzanne Ashworth
The seed packet, catalog, or website of the seed supplier will provide the most vital information you will need for success.
This seed packet states that it is a half runner. But wait! We didn't talk about half runners. What does that mean? No worries, a half runner bean is a mash up of sorts. Think Miley Cirus and the Best of Both Worlds. A half runner bean should still be trellised, because while it will not be as long as a traditional runner bean, it will still be quite long, up to 10 feet in some cases. Again, just put it in the ground. the worst that can happen is that you will get food.
And below, you will see that this seed packet says, "Pole Snap" which is another name for when the bean is harvested as a green bean.
The most common pest that has shown up on our green bean plants is the leaf footed bug (leaf footed nymphs, which is another name for babies, are pictured on the right.) Use some tongs dedicated to gardening and pick them off the plant and place in soap water. They do not bite and will not hurt you BUT they do fly and move fast. Often times the nymphs hang out in clusters on the underside of a leaf.
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