Friday, 10 October 2008

The last of the has beans.

It's been so lovely here today. Hard to describe the pure joy of seeing the sun shining across the quiet fields and lighting up the forest trees in green and gold.

the forest boundary

I've been trying to be 'useful' rather than just gloriously warm and content, but it's not been quite as rewarding as the sunshine. Today I finished the climbing french beans experiment.

oak

I'd had a crazy dream to rejuvenate stocks of a favourite bean which had become contaminated with another variety. My plan was simple, to start plants from the three very different colours of seeds, grow them on separately, ruthlessly rogueing out anything that didn't match my criteria and hope to bring the selection back to three separate types, purple podded with brown seeds, green podded with white seeds and black seeded.

the kite field

The black seeded beans were grown behind the tractor shed. They didn't do very well, the soil there is poor, but they produced black and white seeds.

The white seeded beans, with the ones that germinated with purple leaves removed, grew well but were completely eaten by deer just before I was going to harvest them.

The brown seeded beans, grew well and strong and seem to have produced beans in a full range of colours again.

tree full of apples

The variation seems to be too well established and although I could just go on growing my interesting race of 'mixed' beans I'm more worried about the variation that allowed the cross fertilisation to happen in the first place than the rainbow colours. There are lots of possible reasons why they might have crossed but life is too short and I'm not interested enough to track them down.

I'm not an obsessive seed saver, don't feel every sperm is sacred or anything like that, but I do like the idea of keeping a few key varieties as house specialities. If these beans have the potential to get out of control in this way, and it's very unusual for french beans to show this sort of cross fertilisation, then I will have to ride shotgun on them forever more. It's hard enough policing squash plants without having to worry about the beans. I'm going to let these go and start again with all new stock. Which is something to look forward as the seed catalogues start coming out for the new season!

And just when I'd stopped looking, I got in the car to go to shops this morning, drove down the lane and found these lovely parasol mushrooms laughing at me. I've settled their hash and you can find the recipe on the Stripey Cat.

parasolimmature

2 comments:

shellyfish said...

I just had to say how much I love this title - it had me laughing out loud. I feel like it's one of those inside-joke type feelings understanding 'la fin des haricots' and 'has been' - anyway - great writing!

Catofstripes said...

Hi Shellyfish, glad you like it. Puns will be my downfall eventually. :-)