Recent adventures with pantry beans
This is a short report on my results planting common pantry beans.
I had 3-4 beds that needed a cover crop, after and before planting brassicas. One of my purposes was to enrich the soil as much as possible, keep the weeds away and hopefully also get something edible. I used pantry beans since I needed bush beans for my purposes, but in larger quantities than I had commercial green bean seeds. I had a little commercial bean seed so I also planted half a bed with Kentucky wonders.
Magnolia red beans (Magnolia is just the brand name). Sprouting rate not too bad. I tried them as green beans, they can be eaten this way but are nothing spectacular and they have strings. I did get some tender beans (shellies?) and they are good without being spectacular, but unfortunately my crop did not get very far. That bed (and others) got attacked by what I think are flea beetles. White small insects under the leaves that form a dust cloud sometimes and that made the leaves seem speckled like if they were variegated. All in all I was not sufficiently impressed with the red beans to plant them again in my garden, even if I have insufficient beans for cover crops since I found one I like better.
Great white northern (also from Magnolia). Flea beetles did not let me get a crop at all, they looked sickly from day one. I might try planting a white bush bean again but first I have to figure how to prevent/detract these flea beetles.
White and green baby limas (also from Magnolia). They had a really lousy sprouting rate so I planted several times (filling in the gaps where nothing grew). These were less susceptible to attack from the white flea beetles. I tried eating the pods and I do not recommend it (do not laugh, it was my first time growing limas so I did not know if the pod was ever edible). I harvested some as green shellies and used them in our green beans (and lima shellies) thanksgiving dish. I cooked sautÃ©ing them with a few onions greens that I now have sprouting all over the place and some home made all i oli. They were just sooooo delicious. I will use them again as an inexpensive cover crop. Next time I will take note of the poor sprouting rate and just plant more heavily. At $1.19 a lb for those beans I can afford to plant more heavily.
I should also mention that the Kentucky wonders also got attacked by the white flea beetles but not before giving me a very nice crop, considering how few plants I had. Does anyone here have a good way to get rid of the flea beetles? We tried some soap/hot pepper/tobacco diluted mix but it was a little too late for some of them. Anything else better (non pesticide)?