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Tepary beans go on a road trip


Last week I took a little road trip to Tucson, Arizona, to deliver the southwest native Sonoma White tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) which I grew as a partner gardener for Native Seed Search, an organization dedicated to preserving and protecting the heirloom, arid adapted seeds of the southwest region.

I discovered that tepary beans, though a small seed, are really productive. From a handful of seeds (75) I successfully raised around 44 plants and returned probably 5000 - 7000 seeds. They are also really quick to produce from a monsoon season (4th July) planting, they flowered within 4 weeks with the little bean pods drying and ready for harvest by mid/late August. The pods are stringy and not good for eating green, making these strictly a dried bean. They shell really easily and can dehisce (burst open) scattering seed as they dry.

A great, arid adapted protein source for my food garden, I will definitely allocate space to tepary beans next season. The plants which had trellis support produced a little better, or were perhaps easier to harvest, that those left to sprawl and trail their bean pods in the dirt.

Breaking the 10 hour round trip by overnighting in Tucson gave me opportunity to explore the vegan eating options which a college town offers. Looking for Govindas Natural Foods, I took a wrong turn in traffic, and stumbled on Lovin’ Spoonfulls where I could eat EVERYTHING on the menu. Imagine that!

I restrained myself and only ordered a barbecue rice bowl with home made lemonade. It was soooo good with tempe, eggplant, asparagus and brown rice in a dark, treacle sweet smoky sauce. No idea of the recipe but it was definitely tasty and since pirtions were big, served as breakfast too. Compostable boxes for left overs cost 25cents but are worth it. Or one could take one’s own reusable take out container.

As the sun set, I dined outdoors at the sidewalk tables bordering the parking lot (thank you Covid) amongst university students, their dogs and other Tucson residents, in the warm Arizona evening, with a peek-a-boo view of palm trees and mountains. If I didn’t detest cities with all their sprawl and bustle, I could almost live in Tucson. I felt at home in the company of the sidewalk diners.


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