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Beans, Bolting and Reducing Stress

Beans, Bolting and Reducing Stress

This is the busiest time of the year for a garden.  Remember you can easily plant summer crops into early June, so don’t feel like you are too behind if you are still getting in the summer garden. 

I am excited about planting dry beans this year.  Common ones we are used to eating are pinto, black beans and kidney beans, but there are hundreds of beautiful and delicious dry beans that you can grow in your garden.  Last year I planted 6 feet of Petaluma Goldrush Beans on a trellis that I wasn’t needing for anything else.  I planted pretty late, the first week of June, as I was waiting to see if I had space.  I just let them grow and then when the seed pods dried in the fall, I harvested them and separated the seed from the pod. I got almost 2/3 of a gallon of dry beans to eat and share with others to plant this year.   They are delicious in soups.  There are both bush and pole beans that are dry beans.  It is fun to grow something different and it can feed you through the winter. 

Many people are surprised at how many things bolt this time of year.  Bolting is when a plant starts to go to seed.  Many of our vegetables should be eaten before they bolt- all the root and leaf crops.  There are two reasons things are bolting right now.  One is that many vegetables are biennials, meaning they go to seed in their second year of growth.  Many plants that you plant in the fall have gone through the winter and feel they have lived their life cycle and start to go to seed- chard, beets, kale, broccoli, cabbage all will be doing that.  Sometimes when you plant really early- January or February and there is a warm, cold, warm spell plants think they have gone through a winter and will do a false biennial bolting.  They may have only been in the ground a few months but they think they did a full year.  I have seen early parsley do this a lot.  

Other plants might be bolting because they are cool season annuals that decide once there is a heat spell and the days are getting longer that their time is up and they go to seed.  A lot of the Asian greens do this- Bok Choy, Tat Soi, also spinach, kohlrabi, arugula are pretty common.  I find you need to get these in the ground pretty early in the season to beat that first heat spell.  Stress also shortens the life of these plants so keeping them well watered and well nourished can also help them.  These are all plants that you want to harvest as soon as they are ready as they don’t hold in the ground for very long.

With all the planting happening remember if you can wait to plant things on cool days it really helps reduce the stress the plant goes through in being transplanted.  Last week was really hard on new plants when it got hot, but this week with cooler temperatures and fog at night transplanting is much less stressful on your vegetables.