Friday, August 12, 2011

The Mystery Bean and other Seed Stories

I normally plant three types of pole beans (and many other bush beans but we'll leave that exciting tale for another installation): Hunter - a green flat pod with white seeds, Cherokee Trail of Tears - prolific, small black bean with round pods and some sort of 'cranberry' that I originally got at a fruit/veg store. This year I harvested five kinds of beans. I have been saving these seeds for many years and never remember this happening before. I figure that it must be one of two things: 1) I forgot that I planted other varieties, or 2) some pollination shenanigans has been going on.

My mystery bean

This bean turns out to be the most prolific of all my pole beans this year and I have no idea what it is. The pods are flat like the Hunter but purple like the Cherokee and the beans are a pale lavender/tan colour. If you recognize this bean as something you sent me, please jog my memory. In the meantime, here is some possible evidence of crossing. First the beans:

From left to right: Hunt, Mystery Bean and Cherokee Trail of Tears.

You can see that the pale 'lavender' mystery bean has the same markings as the Hunter bean. And now the dry pods:

From top to bottom: Mystery bean, Hunter and Cherokee Trail of Tears

I have to admit that I assumed all the purple pods were Cherokee though there were actually very few round pods. Most of them were flat like the Hunter.

From Left to Right: Hunter, 'Cranberry,' and Mystery Bean

And among the rest of the beans was one other surprise, some of the (not true) 'cranberry' were streaked brown?? I might have planted some variety like that but I've only found two pods so far that contained these nuggets of difference.

From left to right: brown marked bean and 'Cranberry'

Viva la diversidad! Here is a picture of the twining vines of various hues.

A twisting rainbow

Besides puzzling over these beans, I was threshing radish seeds. Here is a my quick step by step.

1. First gather dried pods

A pile of pods

2. Strip the pods from the stems


3. Step on them or rub them between gloved hands or use a masher like my niece. Or some other method to remove the pod from the seed.

You may recall her as a tyke in the Cabbage picture

4. Pour chaff and seeds into a bowl or bucket of water and swirl around. Remove the floating bits of pods and pour off most of the water leaving just a bit of water and seeds on the bottom then pour the rest through a strainer.

Almost all done. These were rattail radish seeds actually and I had a lot fewer pods. With the daikon radish of most of these pictures, I needed a bucket.

5. Dry and label seeds well!

P.S. Nagging Aunt of the Garden - that's NAG to you - doesn't have time to open her twitter account but wants to tell you to go buy garlic at one of the festivals round these parts tomorrow! I'll be in Carp if you want to sign up to be a member of Canadian Organic Gardeners. :)


Daphne said...

I've got two mystery beans in my garden right now. I've got flat pod growing amid my Kentucky Wonder beans. And I have a black bean that is supposed to be a Ga Ga Hut pinto (flat pods), but it very much like Trail of Tears, but it doesn't have the purple coloring to the pods. The beans look like Trail of Tears. The pods are pencil thin and round and long. No clue what it is. Too bad I don't need another black bean as it is a beautiful bean.

Tina Marie said...

I am surprised at how the radishes look when gone to seed. Its really interesting to see the way different veggies flower. Im going to have to get a book on the topic I think.

Anonymous said...

You probably have a couple crossed up beans. One way to know for sure is grow them out next year and see if they segregate into different beans.


Leigh said...

I agree with goingtoseed. Probably the work of some mischievous bumblebees. But, did you notice if the "new beans" came from a plant with all pods (therefore the whole plant) displaying the new characteristics? (Sounds like the purple podded one was like that) That would likely be cross-pollination from the previous season. But I have also seen beans mutate a single unique pod, with the rest of the pods on the same vine normal - the Dolloff variety I grow was the result of a mutation like that in 1885, and I've had happen in my garden... any way, I like to separate beans by a minimum of 15' with plenty of bumblebee distractions in between.
By the way, your Mammoth Red Rock x San Michele cabbages are fabulous - what a great cross! Huge, colorful and mid-savoyness. I've been taking pics, will post on HG sooner or later