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I usually get a couple pounds of Mother Stallard and Rattlesnake Pole and it looks like Trail of Tears will be joining that. Now that Ojo de Cabra is out (waste of space) and I've given up on Scarlet Runners for the time being (takes too long to make refried beans.) I've got space for one, maybe two more pole varieties, so I went to nativeseeds.org and splurged (and the nice thing about a seed splurge is that extraordinary decadence still usually costs under twenty bucks.)

It has not escaped my notice that what's flourishing are things that take a lot of heat. Rattlesnake Pole is a Southern standard (and it's covered in pods, they just haven't come ripe in great numbers yet.) but some of the others are more traditionally Southwestern and Mexican varieties. So now I just need to narrow it down between what can take the heat AND the humidity.

The weird thing is that there's a couple traditional Southern varieties that drop dead when I plant them. I have the best luck with Wando peas, for example, but that's the only ostensibly southern pea that does anything for me, and even that has been failing the last few years because spring has been so short and got hot so fast. I've had crap luck with tomatoes the last two years and I think I'm going back to German Johnson and Romas--the Brandywines are now reliably catching fire, falling over, and sinking into the dark tarn. (I was hopeful for a type called "Arkansas Traveler" that was supposed to take heat, but it croaked, although it held out longer than the Brandywines, and may get a repeat trial.)

And I wonder, too, why beans like Trail of Tears (which is an endangered heirloom, for crying out loud, and actually on the Ark of Taste list of "plant this, please, before they vanish") aren't being grown everywhere around here, when they do so spectacularly. I mean, this thing puts out black beans like it was going out of style. Meanwhile, I try to grow other beans that are traditional in the Carolinas, like the Mayflower, and find it mediocre at best, and eventually gave up on it after a year or two.

I guess what I am fumbling toward is that I thought that everybody would have had it all figured out by now, what grows well where, and traditional Southern heirloom varieties would of course be better here than ones from, say, Mexico. But I'm having a lot more luck with the Southwestern stuff than I am with some of those Southern staples. And...errr...I mean, I know all gardens are individual and all, but if all these Southwestern crops are doing so much better in my garden, why aren't we all growing tomatillos and Hidatsa Reds already?

Seeds get everywhere! It's been hundreds of years! So...how come they didn't get here?

The most likely explanation, of course, is that I am a bad gardener, because this is totally true. But I also wonder, particularly where I have totally grown a thing before and it worked fine--like the peas--and now it works one year in three, whether or not some of the old Southern heirlooms aren't working as well. Climate change? It's possible--I'm a zone and a half or more warmer than this plot of land was fifty years ago. But it could also been that open-pollinated varieties change over time and maybe I'm getting seed that isn't what it used to be, and when I'm saving seed, I may be doing it poorly and weirdly. Or maybe those Southwestern crops are just damn fine and underappreciated and need more publicity--or maybe "Ursula wanders around aimlessly and remembers to turn the hose on occasionally" mimics the desert conditions a little better than a gardener who, y'know, knew what they were doing, and maybe the weather is just impossibly weird lately (this is certainly true--last year everything flooded, as I recall, and people's gardens were literally washed away) and these crops are more flexible in adversity. I don't know.

Anyway. We will see what performs next year. I am turning all squash production over to South African Gem Squash so that I can get saveable seed, because that is just an astonishingly fine little squash and I am so hopeful for it. And we will see what the future holds for beans.

If you ever figure out for sure what grows here, let me know. Because I can't grow diddly squat for the changeable weather. Animals? Birds? Those I can do. But plants, which I used to be very good at, not so much.

I keep trying beans to very disappointing results, but I also don't know what I'm doing. Maybe I'll try the Trail of Tears next year. I also should, you know, put in a real garden instead of relying on pots.

The name/history of that one still kind of freaks me out. It's literally what the Carolina Cherokee saved some of and took with them on the Trail of Tears.

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Graydon - formerly from Kingston? Such a tiny world!

still new to the whole gardening thing, and having very good luck with green beans. and my tomatoes are doing better this year.

tho growing beans to dry and store is going to be something to try next year I think

It could be change in climate or change in microclimate. That is the local conditions in your garden are affected on a local level. Now if all the gardeners and farmers in your geographical area are experiencing the same thing, then it could well be climate change. I wonder if it has occurred to anyone that this could be the way to study the effects. Instead of setting up field trials of plants get the data from those already growing stuff.

Those beans look very tasty.

It's an interesting idea. The amount of variables are staggering, but the data sources could be really large, too. There are other places crowd-sourced science has worked. Birding is one of 'em!

You are going to have some *fabulous* soups this winter, though!

I have never been brave enough to try growing beans to dry for later. You are inspiring me for next year's garden.

Edited at 2015-08-13 01:46 am (UTC)

It's surprisingly easy! I can't keep up with the harvest on green beans anyhow.

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Try some Anasazi Beans some time-- they have a marvelously nutty, almost pecan-like flavor, and the damn things grow for me when everything else dies. If my backyard went up in a grass fire, when the firemen put it out they would find two things still green and growing: Garlic-Chives and Anasazi Beans.

I've noticed the same sort of shift-- the first few years I kept a garden, we had zucchini everywhere, and the last couple it's been a struggle. Weird.

Whooo! I never read the comments - don't have time - but I had to give a shout out to South African gem squash. I grew big and strong (well, wee but wirey) on gem squash. Your South African readers will all get a bit of a thrill reading today's blog post :)

German Johnson tomatoes remain my one steadfast constant up here in western central Virginia; the only year that variety failed on me was the year we ended up 11 inches above average rainfall, and I lost all but the Black Plums that year. I always grow pole beans, rather than bush, but mine are the green variety. :-) (Grady Bailly, a "greasy" bean I got from Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. They specialize in Southeastern varieties and landraces.) The tomatillos sure are having a spectacular year, aren't they? I think the Brown Marmorated stinkbugs killed off all the summer squash, but my Butternut and Seminole winter squash are doing just fine.

OMG THE STINKBUGS. All my squash are gone, even though we spent hours and days squishing those horrible little things. It's sadistic how much I grew to love the little POP they made. We just couldn't keep up with the quantity.

I have Earth Boxes (two real ones and two home-built) because the part of the yard that gets sun is mostly driveway, and the parts of it that aren't, are rocks or have a currant-bush planted there already. The purple Marconi peppers are going gangbusters. The grape tomatoes are going gangbusters. The blue tomatoes had a burst of productivity and are now apparently done. The basil is Extremely Happy. The white tomatoes are merely pretending.

Something insectoid has eaten all my mint and is gnawing on the Determined Rose*, but I'm not sure what it is because I never see them.

*It was here when we moved in, then there was surgery with an axe to remove the elm tree that was trying to cohabitate with it (because it's Right Next to the foundation of the house). I was as surprised as anyone to see it come back, although it hasn't bloomed in recent memory.

First and fore most, the thought of anything that could discomfit mint is…
I guess all I can say is MIND BOGGLED. : )

I am betting that the Determined Rose is closely related to the Zombie Roses at our house. We tried to get rid of them, they were in a bad place. They came back again and again. Sooooo I put a cinder block on top of where the plants had been. When I moved the cinder blocks a few months (or maybe a year, I'm NOT a plant person) there were little twisted light green leaves and stems. I hurriedly put the cinder block back, just in case.
I have been since been told that the root stock of most commercial roses is VERY hardy and many times has no blooms.

rose rootstock (Anonymous) Expand
I am curious about the phrase "affectionate squash". Do I want to know what that means, Ursula? >.>


I grow my beans in gert big pots in the middle of the gravel driveway, the only place with enough sun, and we eat them as green beans, plus I put up a lot as pickled dilly beans (usually with carrot sticks or slices of fennel root in the jars). Rattlesnake poles are our best producers too, usually from 4th of July to frost, though we also grow other pole cultivars: Romas, Blue Lakes or Kentucky Wonders, purple podded beans, etc -- bush beans haven't been worth the bother. We are just now seeing the first blossoms of the year on the latter cultivars. No luck with squash this year; usually we get a couple acorn or butternut volunteers in the compost pile, not this year. And we had our first homegrown BLT's last week.

Are the Mother Stollards or Trail of Tears any good as green beans?

Temperatures certainly have been more extreme the past few years -- harsher winters but hotter summers. Used to be I could grow lots of things in the DC area that wouldn't deal either farther south (rhubarb, astrantia, some roses) or farther north (ceanothus, pomegranates, figs, other roses) -- not so much anymore. Both of these groups are dying off without extra protection.

Lynn T

Refried beans do sort of take forever but I tend to just pop them in the crock pot and forget about them most of the day so they're pretty labor unintensive.