A Bean that Can Stand the Heat
A Bay Weekly reader complained to me that she has not been able to harvest string beans all summer long.
First, I reminded her that saying string beans is showing her age. When I helped my mother prepare green beans for canning, I had to snip the end followed by pulling a long green string from the inner curve of the bean. Strings have not been a problem with green beans for the past 45 years, and the name was changed to snap beans.
Call them what you will, string beans, green beans or snap beans have not been flowering and producing beans this summer because it has been too hot. I have had the same problem with kidney beans. Even sprinkling the foliage lightly with water during the heat of the day is not enough to cool the plants so they can set beans.
Fertilize female hollies for high color contrast
If you want your hollies to have darker green foliage to show off their bright red berries, fertilize them with calcium nitrate (1⁄4 cup per three feet in height), urea (two tablespoons per three feet in height) or ammonium sulfate (1⁄4 cup per three feet in height). Spread the fertilizer uniformly under the drip line of the branches and cultivate into the mulch or soil before watering. Female hollies require more nitrogen than males because they produce berries. If there is insufficient nitrogen in the soil, it will migrate out of the foliage into the berries, resulting in pale green to yellow-green holly leaves.
If my frustrated grower had taken my advice and planted Gita beans, however, she would have had an abundance of beans to eat all season. My Gita beans have been producing 14- to 18-inch-long beans all summer. If I don’t harvest them at least every other day, the beans grow two feet and longer.
Gita are a pole bean producing two beans at the end of a single lateral stem. The beans are at their best when they have a diameter slightly smaller than that of a pencil and are 14 to 16 inches long. If you allow them to get longer, they produce seeds within the pods and quickly lose their palatability. They are easy to harvest, because you will pick most of the beans starting at a height of three feet. My trellises are seven feet high.
The beans can be eaten raw, steamed or stir-fried in olive oil or butter. It only takes a dozen or so to make a meal for two.
If you allow several of the pods to mature and turn brown, the seeds that fall to the ground will germinate next spring and produce a new crop. These beans come true from seed so you can collect and save seeds for next year’s garden. There is also a red Gita, but I don’t find it as tasty or prolific.
Buy Gita seeds from Johnny Seeds of Maine.