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  • Writer's picturekaydee777

Harvesting the heirlooms

Daily harvest is moving towards being dominated by the dry beans for storage which I pick as the pods dry on the bush.

Today I found a couple of pods of white Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) sometimes called Butter Beans. These heirloom seeds (from my local feed store) were planted 5/7/20 and were somewhat smothered by the hybrid yellow sweet corn. I have been harvesting a few dry pods daily for at least a month. It’s looking like there might be a bonus second flowering now that the bean bushes are no longer overshadowed by corn.

Also on the harvest board are a handful of Cowpeas (Vigna unguiculata) aka Black Eyed Peas or Southern Peas.

Both these beans are my new favorite food plants for their willingness to grow, beautiful forms and flowers, and productivity.

They will definitely feature in next year’s garden plan.

According to ethnobotanists, Vigna unguiculata are one of the earliest agricultural crops. They originated on the African continent.

I am currently harvesting three different variety of V. unguiculata: the very productive Dixie Lee which is a pale creamy khaki brown, Black Crowder (had a deprived childhood being smothered by Painted Hill sweet corn for the first month) and a purple speckled brown variety whose name I do not know. I saved seeds from last year’s harvest but failed to note the variety. This variety had what I suspect was a thrip problem in early growth stages, is more vining than bush and thus probably needs better support than I gave.

Okra with its lovely creamy yellow flowers, has been loving the heat. Last year, after encountering pickled okra in a deli, I read The Whole Okra by Chris Smith.

The power of books. I am become an okra disciple and, now that my okra patch is producing, I dine every few days on a batch of oven baked okra crisps, thanks to a recipe found in this book.

Today I also picked the first San Marzano heirloom plum tomato, with its ancestry in Italy and the lava soils of the slopes of Mount Vesuvius.

San Marzano seems to be a prolific bearer. There are plenty more fruit on the vine. This particular vine was planted very late in the season when I discovered a start on sale at my local seed store. I am definitely going to seek out this variety next tomato season. It gives the traditional Roma plum a run for it’s money.

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