Analyzing our 2021 garden: peas and beans

Since we ordered SO many things for this year, and expanded how much space we were gardening in, I decided to go over groups of things in separate posts, in no particular order and spread over the next few days.

To start, let’s take a look at our peas and beans.

I had wanted to order a three bush bean collection, but they were out of stock, so I ordered different coloured beans to make my own collection. These were the Lewis bean (green), Golden Rod bean (yellow) and the Royal Burgundy bean, all from Veseys.

Also from Veseys, I ordered the Dalvay pea (a green pea), while ordering the King Tut Purple Pea (purple pods, green peas), from Baker Creek.

These were planted in new beds that were little more than layers of organic material and new garden soil, directly on the ground. Which means that, right from the beginning, we knew it would be rough growing for them.

Then the drought hit.

Then the deer and groundhogs showed up.

The grasshoppers seemed to leave them alone, though.

In spite of all that, the bush beans did remarkably well. The yellow bean plants were the most stunted in growth, but they were the first producers, and even produced a second crop later in the season. The green beans did quite well, both the plants and the yield, but it was the purple beans that were the most amazing. They handled the drought conditions the best, with the plants growing the strongest and densest of all, even with a few deer nibbles along the way, while producing a steady amount of beans right up until they finally got killed by frost.

Between all three varieties, we not only had enough for fresh eating, but were even able to freeze a few bags of them, too. I had hoped to have enough to do some canning, and if we had had an average year for rainfall and temperatures, I have no doubt these hardy and prolific beans would have just exploded in growth and yield, even with the relatively poor soil conditions, and we would have had plenty to make it worth breaking out the canning equipment.

We will not, however, be growing these again next year, though I would certainly grow them again in the future. For 2022, we will be growing pole beans, and possibly drying beans as well.

I would definitely recommend these varieties of bush beans from Veseys, though.

Then there were the peas.

They did not do well this year at all, but we did have some surprises.

The King Tut peas from Baker Creek were just a small package with barely enough seeds to fill one trellised row. The Dalvay peas from Veseys, on the other hand, were packaged by weight, and there was a lot of them! We planted enough to fill two double rows with trellises, and had lots left over.

The peas all started out well enough. The Dalvay peas had some gaps in germination that I later planted with more peas, but there were no extra seeds to do the same with the King Tut peas.

Then things turned for the worse.

With all our watering, I don’t know if the drought was the main problem. Peas don’t like to be over watered, and they don’t like heat. I don’t think I watered them too much, and it was likely the excessive heat that did them in.

Then the Dalvay peas basically disappeared, withered away. The King Tut peas got a bit bigger before they dried up.

When we saw signs of critter damage in the gardens, I set up a trail cam to confirm what critters were doing the damage. I did catch deer, but it was a groundhog I saw among the peas, so it wasn’t just the heat that was killing off our green peas! They didn’t seem to go for the purple peas, though.

In spite of looking so dead, the purple peas kept trying to produce, and I even had a few pods to taste while doing my morning rounds, and a few that I let dry on the vine to collect for seeds. I think I have maybe 6 of 7 seeds. Given the growing conditions, I doubt they tasted the way they were supposed, so I’ll just say they tasted just fine and leave it at that.

I will not be buying the King Tut peas again for next year, but I do want to try them again, and hopefully the few seeds I saved will germinated. If they are still available, I wouldn’t mind getting fresh seeds again in a year or two and trying again.

As for the Dalvay peas, I had so many left over that, when temperatures finally cooled down, I interplanted them with all the varieties of corn, for their nitrogen fixing qualities. They did a lot better than the first planting, and I even got to pick a few pods before they were killed off by the first, very late, frost.

I think these would be worth growing again, though I plan to try other varieties. It was just a terrible year for peas, so there will be no way to do a proper comparison.

Final analysis:

Bush beans: did surprisingly well under terrible growing conditions. Though we will be trying pole beans in next year’s garden, all three bush bean varieties are well worth growing again. Especially the Royal Burgundy. As we develop more garden space in the future, we will likely be growing both pole and bush bean varieties.

Peas: did not do well at all. The drought and heat (and groundhog!) were just too much for them. I’d be willing to try both varieties again in the future. For our upcoming growing year, we will be buying other varieties to try.

The Re-Farmer

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