Here are some pics of my garden this year. Now that we are in September, I wanted to capture it in all it’s glory before it’s gone. I’ve worked hard tweaking out the infrastructure with new framed beds and weed barriers and wood chips in the paths this year. Having retired from the Santa Fe Farmers Market two seasons ago has allowed me to do more in the garden. I also added some perennial fruit like raspberries and blackberries since I don’t need space for 125 tomato plants anymore! By mid-October or sooner, it will be toast with the first frost so might as well enjoy it while I have it. I have an abundance of flowers this year that I grew for my edible flower class and besides being beautiful and edible, they attract many beneficial insects and pollinators. Hope you enjoy it as much as I do!
Category Archives: BEANS
Harlequin Bug Control
I’ve got a lot of questions from people about an orange and black bug attacking their food crops. It’s called a Harlequin bug and it is a bad one for our vegetable gardens. You need to hand-pick them off right away as they can decimate your vegetable garden. They particularly like crops like cabbage, broccoli and mustard but will attack squash, beans, corn, asparagus, or tomatoes. I pick them off and put in a bucket of soapy water just like for squash bugs. Funny But I don’t remember them in years past but they are here now. Some people are reporting picking off hundreds of them! So don’t wait, get on it NOW.
Read more at Gardening Know How: What Are Harlequin Bugs: How To Get Rid Of Harlequin Bugs https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/plant-problems/pests/insects/get-rid-of-harlequin-bugs.htm
Root Trainers-unique propagating trays
I started using ‘Deep Root trainers’ last year for my fava beans and other bean crops that need deep cells or for plants that don’t want the roots disturbed when planting. The cool thing about them is that the cells are 5 inches deep and shaped like a clamshell, with two sides that open up like a book. There are 8 sections total that fit snugly in a tray to hold them upright that comes with the kit. They are great as they have grooves that keep the roots growing straight instead of circling in the cell and strangling the plant. They also air prune when they hit the bottom of the cell. No need to transplant into another pot, just plant them out in the garden. You just put seed starting soil in each cell, pat it down and put the seeds in. The only drawback is the plastic clamshells are very fragile and must be handled super carefully to keep from cracking but knowing that, I am careful and have them for three years so far. You can get them through Amazon. Get the 5″ deep ones, NOT the 3″ ones.
Pictured above are fava beans in their cells, 6 are already planted in the ground. Just carefully open the clamshell and slide them out into your hole in the ground with no root disturbance for those sensitive plants that hate to be transplanted.
I also used root trainers with a hard to germinate french variety of beet called ‘Craupadine’. It is probably the oldest beet in existence. I have not had much luck with germination when planting these seeds directly in the ground so I decided to try them in the rootrrainers this year and have much better germination although still spotty. I thought being a root vegetable, they probably would not like to have that main root disturbed. I think they will do well. I won’t wait till the plants are too big. I am planting them outside after the first true leaves (cotyledon leaves) come out. So far 27 have germinated which is more than I have ever grown at one time. They are ready for transplant above. I am so excited as these are the sweetest beets I’ve ever eaten. The french farmer markets cook them over a smokey fire in foil and serve them still warm.
Last season I planted a new dry pole bean called Borlotto (also called Borlotti). They are an Italian heirloom variety. The variety was Lamon which is supposed to be the best for flavor. It got around 6 feet high and I grew it in the garden on one of the 3′ high perimeter fences. As it got taller, I added bamboo stakes to let it continue upwards. They are a very beautiful bean on the vine when growing. I planted around 12 plants, 6 inches apart right at each drip emitter. You can shell the bean fresh but I just left them to dry on the vine. I got my seeds from Seeds of Italy.
I particularly like dry beans. I picked them after they dried on the vine which is towards the end of the season but before the first freeze. I find dry beans are so easy to grow, needing nothing except water and a vertical support of some kind and then harvesting at the end. They are very different then fresh beans which you must pick daily. There is also a bush variety of these beans but they are not Lamon.
I left them in their shells in a basket until last week when I took the beans out. I find it fun to shell them on a cold winter night. The beans are very beautiful being cream color with maroon stripes. I got 3 cups of the precious bean. Good for 1 meal. I will save some to replant too. This year I will definitely plant more.
I like that I can make a hearty soup or stew from them and eat them in the winter. Here is a recipe from Italian Food Forever for a traditional Tuscan bean soup using Borlotto beans. When cooking the beans before hand, you must cook for a long time here in Santa Fe due to our high altitude at 7000 feet as you want them soft and creamy. I just cooked mine in a crock pot all day and it worked well. You can also leave out the pancetta for a vegetarian style soup. There are many recipes for Borlotto bean soup out there that all sound wonderful! Can’t wait to try them.
Tomato and Vegetable Winners in 2017 garden
Here are my favorite vegetables that I grew for 2017. Mind you I’m super picky and I’m sure there are many other varieties out there waiting to be tried that are great. That’s what keeps it interesting for me. Also I give you where I bought the seeds or transplants. You may be able to buy these elsewhere but this is where I purchased them from.
2017 Tomato Winners
***ALL-TIME FAVORITE TOMATO
Lucky Cross: MY FAVORITE TOMATO-Bigger tomato. Starts yellow then turns more pinkish yellow on the outside with red marbling inside. Sweet and luscious with few cracks. Ripens later in the season but before the end of the season. Part Brandywine and tastes like them. DELICIOUS! Not to be confused with Little Lucky tomato. Seeds from Victory Seeds
Goliath: A very abundant and nice size red tomato. No cracks and old-fashioned tomato flavor-excellent. Seeds from Totally Tomato seeds
Costoluto Genevese: Beautiful fluted tomato with old-fashioned tomato flavor from Italy. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Marmande Garnier Rouge: A medium to large dark-red slightly fluted tomato from France-excellent old-fashion tomato flavor. Seeds from Secret Seeds Cartel
Big Zac: Huge, red sweet tomato-takes all season to ripen but still one of my favorites-worth the wait. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Goldman’s Italian American: My favorite for a sauce tomato-Unique, beautiful and large tomatoes have a pear shape, being ribbed and pleated. These have an intense red color and fantastic flavor when ripe. Thick, red flesh is perfect for delicious tomato sauces. Ripens towards end of season. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
NEW! Stump of the World: Big pink tomato with sweet flavor. Good at high altitudes. Seeds from Tomato Growers
PURPLE or BLACK
Purple Cherokee: Dusky purple with dark shoulders-Always a favorite-sweet, flavor. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Paul Robeson: Dark brown with green shoulders-Always a favorite-sweet, earth flavor. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye: Dark pink with green stripes-great sweet flavor.
Seeds from Wild Boars Farms or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Black and Brown Boar: Brownish-red tomato with green stripes-good, sweet, earthy flavor. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms
NEW! Summer of Love: Large and very meaty red/yellow bi-color beefsteak with purple anthocyanin splashes on the sun-kissed fruit-wonderful flavor. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms
NEW! Lover’s Lunch: A very beautiful and tasty striped red/yellow with bi-colored flesh. This large, meaty, fruity and sweet tomato has stand-out flavor. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms
NEW! Lucid Gem: First they ripen yellow, than more of an orange when very ripe. Very attractive with black purple anthocynin splashes on shoulder that contrast with the yellow skin. Flavor is very good- Sweet with fruity tones. Very meaty, very few Seeds – One of the best varieties for heat tolerance. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms
NEW! Solar Flare-XL: Bigger than the regular Solar Flare-very sweet red with faint yellow stripes. Seeds from Wild Boars Farms
Artisan Blush Tiger: I love this one-fruity flavor. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Pink Bumblebee: Great sweet flavor. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Black Cherry: One of my favorites that I grow EVERY year. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Sungold: One of my few hybrids-Always a favorite-super sweet yellow cherry tomato. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
2017 vegetable winners
Wasabi arugula: This arugula gives the same nose-tingling sensation as the wasabi condiment used in Japanese dishes. This variety is very quick to bolt but delicious. Grow in early spring before heat. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
NEW! Borlotti ‘Lamon’ beans: Climbing beautiful cream, red splashed shell on outside with beans being a pale pink with red splotches inside if you let them dry. I like to harvest them when dry. According to the Venetians, Lamon’s are “THE” bean for ‘pasta fagiolo’. Seeds from Seeds of Italy
Émérite Filet Pole Bean: Émérite is a true Filet Bean from France, produced on graceful vines growing to 8′ tall. When picked early and often, the beans are tender and have outstanding flavor. Seeds from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds
Craupadine: I’ve tried this one before-poor germination every year except for one year and the one year it did germinate, it tasted FANTASTIC-sweetish beet I’ve ever eaten. Will try to start seeds inside this year to see if I get better germination. Would really like to get this one again. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Violetta bok choy: A beautiful green with purple tipped leaves and tastes great sautéed. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Kalibos Red cabbage: This Eastern European heirloom cabbage has a pointed shape and intense red/purple leaves. Beautiful and sweet flavor. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange
Argentata chard: Has green leaf with big white stalks that when cooked, melt in your mouth. Plus it is the most cold tolerant variety in my garden outlasting many other varieties of chard. Seeds from John Scheepers Kitchen Garden Seeds
Poona Kheera: My all-time favorite eating cucumber. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Fairy Tale: my favorite-never bitter or tough skin. No need to peel this small eggplant. I just cut them in half and saute or BBQ them. Transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Florence Fennel: A bulb type fennel from Italy. Wonderful mild anise taste to add to Chippino or Boulabaise. I chop it and freeze it for use later. Seeds from Seeds of Italy or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Jimmy Nardello: Super sweet, red pepper-good for sauteing or cook on BBQ. It is thin-walled. Good cooked or raw. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Carmel: A fabulous early spring spinach with great flavor. The only spinach to survive winter with row cover. Seeds from Johnny’s Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Waltham Butternut: I grew it because I had heard it doesn’t get squash bugs and that was true for me-good flavor too. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Rogosa Violina “Gioia” Butternut: An Italian version of Butternut. Grew much larger with excellent flavor and no squash bugs-YAY! Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds
Costata Romanesco zucchini: This is the most flavorful zucchini I’ve ever tasted-sweet nutty flavor. Seeds from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
Moon and Stars: This has a beautiful dark green skin with yellow ‘stars’. Taste is super sweet and it ripened before the end of the season. Seeds from Seed Savers Exchange or transplants from Agua Fria Nursery here in Santa Fe
New varieties in veggie garden
Now that the season is over I can review some of the new veggies I tried.
Borlotti beans: The pod of this Italian shelling bean is so beautiful and once I picked them, let them dried and shelled them the actual beans are pinkish/cream-colored with red splashes-more beauty. The variety was ‘Lamon’ which is a vining type. Can’t wait to try them in a pasta e fagioli soup this winter.
Kalibos Red cabbage: A friend gave me some plants to try. This Eastern European heirloom cabbage has a pointed shape and intense red/purple leaves. They turned out beautiful and I gave my friend the biggest one as I’m not a big cabbage fan and she makes great fermented foods-like Sauerkraut or Kim-chi.
Butternut Rugosa (wrinkled butternut): This variety from Italy is larger than the American Butternut variety. I only got one as powdery mildew eventually took over the plant but can’t wait to eat this. Much more interesting than the regular butternut variety. This one hadn’t turned butternut brown yet.
Chartreuse Scarlet Runner bean: I grow runner beans for their beautiful flowers although I know we can eat them too. I like this variety because of its chartreuse coloring of the leaves and the scarlet flowers. I love the contrast between the yellow-green foliage and surrounding other greens in the garden (in this case it is next to the strawberry plants.)
Sunset Runner bean: I grew this for the beautiful peach colored flower. The leaves are the normal green of other runner beans. I grew it on my arbor at the entrance to the garden.
Artichokes: I wrote about this in an earlier post but definitely worth mentioning again. Wonderful good size chokes with great flavor on a beautiful plant. In fact I like the plant as much as the artichokes. Wonderful showstopper in the garden. Another one I didn’t think would harvest in time but they did. See previous post here.
Vegetables for the Table-Tomato Lady 2017 favorites
Here are my favorite vegetables going into the 2017 growing season. I may not have room for all these in the gardening but these are my favorites as of right now
VEGETABLES FOR THE TABLE-TOMATO LADY’S FAVORITES
Goldman’s Italian American-85D
Any cherry tomato
Artisan Blush Tiger
EARLY TOMATOES-52-65 days
Bella Rosa*-very firm even when ripe
Pink Berkeley Tie Dye
Black and Brown Boar
LATE-SEASON-80 days +
Purple Cherokee-purple tomato
Paul Robeson-dark tomato
Indigo Apple or Indigo Rose
*denotes hybrid tomato
Romano-Italian pole or bush
Tarbais-dry pole bean for French cassoulet
Chiogga-beautiful red with white stripes inside
Scarlet Nantes-orange sweet
Chantenay Red-orange very sweet
Ruby Red-gorgeous red/good flavor
Argentata-white stem-favorite in Italy-very cold hardy
Poona Kheera-best tasting ever
Lemon cucumber-never bitter
Boothsby Blonde-Bread and Butter pickles
Russian Pickling-Dill pickles
Mini Whites-sweet pickles
Rosa Bianca-big eggplant for Eggplant Parmesan
Fairytale-small, sauté or BBQ
Jimmy Nardello-red thin skin pepper for sautéing-SWEET
Shishito-Japanese small green pepper-saute-serve for tapas-NOT HOT
Poblano-use for chile relleno/MILDLY HOT
Butternut-will not attract squash bugs
Galeux D’ Eyesines
Costata Romanesco-zucchini-Favorite of Deborah Madison also
Bennings Green Tint-patty pan
What’s up in the garden!
Still catching up on what’s up in the garden. I planted a new bean called Climbing pole French Bean – Meraviglia Venezia that I bought from Franchi Seeds. It’s a Romano type of bean only yellow in color. I wonder what it will taste like. I also planted Emerite french filet pole bean from John Scheepers Vegetable seeds and a Chartreuse leaf colored scarlet runner pole bean which I grow for looks as the bright yellow-green leaves look fantastic against other greens.
Detroit Red beets, Craupadine beets and Atomic Red carrot seeds were planted directly in the garden. I put row cover over all of them to keep the birds from eating the bean seeds and to keep moisture in the ground for the beets and carrots. If you’ve had trouble with birds eating germinating seeds, put row cover over them till they get about 3 inches tall. The Detroit beets and carrots are coming up nicely but the Craupadine beets are not. They are so hard for me to germinate compared to other beet seeds-still I try as I love the flavor of them.
Cucumber seeds planted in 2″ pots in the greenhouse at end of May, have germinated and will go into the garden today-June 15. The varieties are: Poona Kheera cucumbers (best tasting slicing cuke ever-never get bitter), Parisian cucumbers (I will make Cornichon pickles out of them), Boothby Blonde cucumber seeds will become Bread and Butter pickles and National Pickling cucumber seeds which will become dill pickles. Can’t wait to make pickles!
Last year and every year before, I planted cucumber seeds directly in the ground but roly polys ate my cucumber seeds as they germinated last year in the soil. Roly polys, sow bugs, pill bugs, potato bugs are sort of interchangeable names for Armadillidiidae. They are actually good composters of horse manure so they are great in a compost pile but can damage small seedlings as they germinate in your garden when you plant seeds. Last year, I thought it was a cut worm eating all my seedlings, but found the roly polys instead to be the culprits. I had to plant 3x before I could get enough up and only after I sprayed them with Neem did I have success. This year I pre-started them in the greenhouse in 2″ pots to get them a little bigger. I find when seedlings are bigger, the roly polys don’s bother them anymore. They only like the young tender seedlings as they emerge. If they do eat some of my other seedlings that are direct seed planted, they will be toast as I will spray Neem Oil on the roly polys on the soil where they live to get rid of them.
The winter squash varieties I’ve planted are Rugosa Violina Butternut and Waltham Butternut. I grow Butternut squash because it doesn’t attract squash bugs! It’s the winter squash to grow if they are a problem.
I’m also growing ‘Tahume’ Calabacitas squash which is really a winter squash picked very immature-we eat it like summer squash out here in Santa Fe especially in the dish called Calabacitas, which is a mixture of sauteed onions, corn, Hatch green chili and calabacitas squash. I got this from Botanical Gardens seed company. Very yummy!
Summer squash varieties I started are Costata Romanesco zucchini (best flavor ever) and ‘Bennings Green Tint’ patty pan. If I hadn’t had such trouble with the rolly polys last year I would just plant the seeds in the ground and you should too if they are not a problem for you. The soil has warmed up nicely—over 70°F which is perfect for squash seed germination.
Should be done with all veggies planted this week. So if you think you are behind in the garden this year, don’t worry, you’re not alone!
Produce for sale from the Tomato Lady-Friday August 21
Hi folks. I know many of you locals follow my blog. I have 125 tomato plants and 3o heirloom varieties this year. For some unknown reason my tomatoes are taking their time turning red (or orange or striped or black or purple). This is weird as I would have thought that they would all be kicking ass by now and I would be at the Farmers Market. The weather has been nice and warm, the rain wonderful and the tomatoes look great-just still green. Ah mother nature! Whata ya going do? I’ve learned years ago to just surrender to her. So…
Since I don’t have enough tomatoes ready (I need boxes and boxes of them) for the Farmer’s Market this Saturday, I do have some heirloom tomatoes to sell plus I have LOTS of other heirloom veggies—Shishito peppers, wonderful varieties of french and Italian green beans—Rattlesnake beans, Italian Romano beans, Trionfo Violetto beans, Royal Burgundy beans and some french filets, tasty sweet cucumbers and fantastic huge ruby red chard that melts in your mouth when steamed and drizzled with a fine balsamic vinaigrette.
I will be selling them from 2 -4 pm this Friday August 21 at our studio:
Liquid Light Glass
926 Baca Street #3
Santa Fe, NM
Call me if you have questions. 660-4986
I will be starting at the Santa Fe Farmer’s market Saturday August 29th from 7 am-1 pm. But don’t be late as I will sell out probably by 11 am. You can find me inside the building-just look for my ‘TOMATO LADY’ SIGN above my booth.
So come catch up with me and get some fantastic veggies for yourself this Friday without the parking hassles! Hope to see you here at the studio!
Row cover everywhere!
My main vegetable garden is basically divided into three sections-Section 1, Section 2 and Section 3-each section being around a 1000 square feet. So as I look at what I call ‘Section 3’, all I see is row cover everywhere! Looks like I laid out my laundry all over the ground but this is temporary. Row cover is used for extending the seasons and for protecting crops.
When I plant new transplants such as eggplants and peppers, I find our winds horrible on them, whipping them around and drying them out-totally stressing the poor little things so I put these mini hoops over them and put row cover on that protecting them from the ferocious winds we’ve had. When I plant seeds, I also cover them with row cover to protect them from the birds and other animals eating the seedlings as the germinate. Birds love bean sprouts, corn sprouts and cucumber sprouts but when I cover them, the birds don’t know what’s going on underneath when they germinate. So the garden looks like hell for a couple of weeks but will save me time and frustration of replanting more seeds later. This year after I planted the corn, bean and cucumber seeds, I put straw around them to help keep the soil moist and since I waited to plant later, an added bonus is the soil is pre-warmed and the straw will help hold in the moisture when I water.
Cucumbers, corn and potatoes are in!
Why do I feel so far behind?!
Yesterday I finished putting in my seeds for cucumbers, potatoes (really late there) and a new corn called ‘glass gem’ yesterday. Then I remind myself it just hailed last week and snowed the week before so perhaps I’m more on schedule than I think this year. All the crops will get row cover over them to protect them from birds eating the seedlings. Out of sight, out of mind.
Today I put in 8 pepper and 8 eggplant transplants and have 8 more of each to plant tomorrow plus squash seeds and Tarabais bean seeds to plant by the weekend.
Sounds easy but after I lightly turn the soil in the bed, add amendments in each hole, put the plant in, make a well around each plant to hold the water around the plant, connect a drip line and wrap it around each plant, put straw around each well and make cages to protect them and lastly put row cover over the cages which I secured using rocks so they won’t blow off. Phew—it all takes time. I get tired just thinking about it!
I am still germinating the gourds under the lights in the house which as soon as they come up and grow their first true leaves I will put out. Oh yea and the beets and carrots have to still go in. Sigh—so much to do! And did I mention I put in my one purple tomatillo plant? Blah. Blah. Blah.
Tarbais bean/cassoulet part 2
Cassoulet is a hearty winter dish which was originally created by poor farmers or peasants in southwest France. Only god knows what the rich and royal were eating if this is what the peasants ate cause this is very rich! There are different types of cassoulets in France depending on the region you live. Some cassoulets made in mountainous areas might have lamb as their main meat, others close to the sea would have fish and the most famous cassoulet is made with duck but no matter, they all used the Tarbais bean (pronounced Taar Bay) as a main ingredient to make this famous dish. To find out more about my experience on growing Tarbais beans go here. I made cassoulet with duck and my Tarbais (cassoulet) beans that I grew.
Cassoulet is slow cooked in a ceramic dish called a cassole which is a basically a covered ceramic casserole dish that can go in the oven. It traditionally is made with sausages, pork, duck confit and Tarbais beans-not for the faint of heart and I mean that literally!
So on with making a cassoulet with duck. Don’t be in a hurry cause it takes several days to make this dish-yes I said days—like as in 3 days!
First, Whole Foods ran out of duck confit, so I had to go online and learn how to make it myself which was a blessing as duck confit is very expensive and evidently not as good if you don’t make it yourself. There are many recipes on the internet but here is the recipe for both the Duck Confit and Cassoulet that I use from: Cassoulet by Anthony Bourdain and Michael Ruhlman as presented by ‘The Daring Kitchen’: http://thedaringkitchen.com/recipe/confit-cassoulet . Here is their recipe as a pdf – Confit_Cassoulet_Jan_2011 which is helpful to print out as your computer will run out of juice before you can finish making the recipe in 3 days!
I wouldn’t want to go to all this effort all the time but once a year in the winter is great. Plus I did not line the ceramic pot with pork rinds-just seemed like overkill to me (literally). Now don’t worry they also have several different versions of cassoulets at the link above for the more heart healthy conscious (like chicken confit in olive oil and vegetarian cassoulet) but I thought I’d try an original version once! Next time I will exchange the pork with smoked turkey necks (which taste like smoked pork) and the different pork sausages with turkey sausage versions as it has sooo much fat.
What was once a poor man’s dinner is now very expensive but oh so good. I like to eat this hearty winter dish on a cold winter’s night with a glass of red wine by the fireplace. I think the red wine cuts the fat, or least that’s what I tell myself!
Tarbais bean/Cassoulet Part 1
Here is what Tarbais (pronounced Taar bay) beans looks like on the vine and closeup, after dried but before shelling and when shelled in jars. I like to cook and wanted to learn how to make a french dish called ‘Cassoulet’ last year (2012) and had a heck of a time finding this particular bean that hails from France where I would have to pay $34.00 an ounce for heirloom Tarbais beans ! That’s because our USDA and the cost of their inspections drives up the price to get them into the US. The ones to grow can be different from the beans to eat. The ones you can purchase to eat might not be a true heirloom, mixing genetically with other beans but they will taste the same unless you try to grow them out. The heirloom variety were not in any seed catalog last year but I finally found 4 people who offered their heirloom seeds through Seed Savers Exchange (SSE) in their Members Catalog ($4 for shipping only) and each gave a lot of beans (30+). Well worth joining because 1) you are supporting growing heirloom seeds and 2) many people grow unusual vegetables and offer their seeds through SSE. They were the only ones who had them in 2012 in the US. This year (2013) I saw them offered at Baker Heirloom Seeds in their catalog and got more although now I have my own supply of them as well.
So what’s so special about the Tarbais bean? I probably could have used a white Navy bean but I read that the Tarbais bean is slightly bigger and becomes creamy without disintegrating and becoming mushy like many other beans do and I wanted to be authentic and grow out that variety of bean.
The Tarbais bean originally came from the village of Tarbais, in southwestern France and is used in cassoulet dishes. Tarbais beans were developed by generations of farmers that lived in that area. The Tarbais Bean in 2000 obtained IGP status (Indication of Protected Geographical Origin). Only members of a small, closed cooperative in Tarbais are allowed to use that name for their beans, and production is tightly regulated. The original seed is a New World runner bean (Phaseolus coccineus) and most think it originated in Mexico.
That’s one of the great things about growing your own vegetables-you can grow something you might not find in the grocery store. That doesn’t mean it will taste exactly the same as where it originated from (like I doubt a New Mexico chili grown in New Jersey would taste the same as our conditions and soil are very different) but at least I could try. The beans are grown like any pole bean that you are going to leave on the vine until dried. They were harder to start as the birds liked the ‘bean sprouts’ when they popped up so I had to replant several times and cover them with row cover to protect them until they were about 3 inches tall. After that it was a breeze. Just water them regularly. They will produce many pods that you just leave on until fall when they dry on the plant.
Part 2 of this will be the about Cassoulets and the recipe I used.
The Holy Grail of Beans
The holy grail of dried beans are Tarabais beans. They are a runner bean (Phaeseolus coccineus). Haricots Tarabais (as they are called in France), have been grown for centuries in Tarbes, at the foot of the French Pyrénées in the southwestern region of France close to the Spanish border. This white bean, which is larger than a navy bean, is thin-skinned, sweet and has creamy flesh and doesn’t fall apart when cooked. They are commonly used in a classic french dish called cassoulet, a rich and savory casserole baked with these beans, duck confit, sausage, pork, sometimes lamb, and topped with crispy breadcrumbs. This is a great winter dish. Different cities in France have different ingredients in their cassoulets, but all of them start with these beans. They are also perfect for any bean salads or bean soups.
I had a hard time finding them last year in the states. When I went online to get them from France they were very expensive- $34 an ounce! I had a friend who was in Germany try to get some for me but they were still $15 an ounce. Too rich for my blood and to think these were originally used as a peasant casserole! I was about to give up when I saw them in my 2012 Seed Saver’s Exchange members book last year. There were 4 people offering them in the US. It cost $5 (for postage) to get them. So I spent $20 and got some from all four members. Enough for 2 years. Well this year you’ll be in luck if you want to try these beans-they are in Baker Heirloom Seeds for the first time and are easily available this year in the states.
In growing these beans, I found it tough to get them started having to replant the seeds 3 times before I got them to germinate on my 8 ft long fence. They grew up over the 3 foot tall fence and curled back on the other side which was fine. Once up they are up, they are an easy keeper. You don’t have to do anything special except to be sure to give them adequate water. They did get a little rust on some of the leaves but regrew new leaves (like all my beans) without it reoccurring again. You’ll need to get them in the ground as early as possible as soon as the ground warms up because it takes all season for the pods to mature. Then I picked them after the pods dried. After I picked them, I brought them inside, shelled them and placed the beans on a cookie sheet until they were really dry. You can tell if they are dry enough to put away by biting one and if it is rock hard and no give, then it is ready. After that I put them in some mason type jars where they are ready for me to start the cassoulet adventure this winter!
Review of 2012 vegetables
2012 VEGGIE LIST
Here is my review of what I will and won’t grow again from last year’s vegetables that I tried and why. I will put tomatoes in another list since there are so many of them!
WILL GROW AGAIN
-Apollo-nice leaf size and flavor
-Rattlesnake bean/pole-remarkably flavored pole bean-grows very tall-great for trellises or arbor
-Tarbais bean/pole-dry bean-after much work FINDING IT last year in the states, you can now get this wonderful bean from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds this year. I will make a french dish called cassoulet with it.
-Fava Bean/bush-wonderful flavor and 2 crops last year. A little work shelling it twice but worth it. Also is a good cover crop replenishing the soil with nitrogen.
-Golden Scarlet Runner/pole-I grow runners for their flowers/foliage-the foliage on this one is a striking chartreuse color against the scarlet flowers-simply beautiful
– Craupadine-BEST tasting (but ugly) beet around
-Cylindra-long cylinder shape, great taste, easy cutting into slices
-Extra Dwarf Pak Choy-wonderful flavor-I like to cut one in half, saute it in olive oil, and add tamari when you flip it
-Atomic Red-great color and flavor
-Cosmic Purple-one of my favorites
-Bright Lights-adds great color tucked into the garden and good flavor
-Argentata-thick juicy stalks with huge leaves-very cold tolerant
-Ruby Red-one of the prettiest and tasty chards out there
-Parisian Pickling-used for making cornichon pickles
-Boothsby Blonde-used for making bread and butter pickles
-Poona Kheera-best flavor for eating
-Armenian– fun to grow, good flavor, few seeds
-Fairy Tale-sweet, no bitter taste and tender (not tough) skin
–Provencal Mix, Mesclun Mix, Buttercrunch, Yugoslavian Red, Santoro Lettuce
-Dwarf Sugar Gray-great in salads or steamed, grows about 3 ft tall
PEPPER–want to try some different varieties from Europe this year as well
-Shishito (Japanese non-hot pepper)-one of my favorites
-Poblanos-mildly hot (I call it warm), great for chile rellanos or scrambled eggs, wonderful smoky flavor
POTATOES–first year grower and I’m hooked!
-French Fingerling-OMG, the best flavor!
-Peruvian Purple-I loved the flavor of these as well
-Bloomsdale and Tyee
-Costata Romanesco-best tasting zuke around
SUNFLOWERS-technically a flower but they are veggies for the birds!
-will grow another huge patch of different varieties-beautiful and the birds love them
-Russian Mammoth AND Titan– for us/birds to eat
-Black Oil-for the birds only
TOMATILLO-Green-good for tomatillo salsa-only need one plant as they are so prolific.
WON’T GROW AGAIN
BEAN-Emerite bean/pole bean- great flavor but didn’t grow high enough to cover my teepee and I will grow others this year.
-Paris Market-too small, bland flavor, not impressed
-seed from local grower-turns out it was a native winter squash, not calabacitas squash.
CORN-again not this year (I’ll get it from our Farmers Market)
-Di Firenze-might grow one or two but not 25 plants like last year!
-Jalapeno-I don’t use them enough to call for space in the garden. I’ll just buy the few I use throughout the year.
-Russian Banana-too crunchy and watery