Monday, July 28, 2008

Snap beans: first harvest

This afternoon brought the first harvest of snap beans. The three-week dry spell set back their progress, but when I checked them yesterday it was clear that the earliest were ready. In this variety, Provider, the beans come ready over a period of a few weeks, making for several pickings. Some varieties adapted for commercial use are bred with characteristics that favor all ripening at once, for a single machine picking; but for the home gardener, gradual ripening is more convenient--not only are fresh beans available longer, but the gardener is not overwhelmed. I picked and froze about a quart and ate a portion for supper.

Provider is Fedco's best-selling snap bean variety. Its best quality is dependability; next is the earliness and then the gradual ripening. The plants are vigorous and high-yielding. They freeze well. Unfortunately, it is not among the best tasting. For taste, my favorite is Levi Robinson, an heirloom that I have grown for years (but not this year). Compared to Provider, it is more vigorous, but not as high yielding; it ripens later (though not all at once), and the harvest is done sooner.

I checked on the progress of the dry beans. They are doing very well this year, much better than in most years, although, again, because of the dry spell they are a little behind. I used the slicing wheel hoe between the rows to weed once again. That is only twice I've had to do this since the beans were planted in early June, which is some kind of record. Usually by now I've been at them weekly. I'm contemplating planting a cover crop between the rows before the beans leaf out between the rows.

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