Monday, July 12, 2010

bean plants need sun

Guess that shouldn't come as a surprise.  I fully expected our bush green beans to grow like weeds, which was my experience in Idaho oh-so-many-years-ago, and so figured they (along with the edamame soybeans) would be fine planted *next* to the tomatoes, which eventually became *in-between* the tomatoes (once we planted a second cohort of tomato seedlings), which eventually became *under* the tomatoes.  Both half-rows of beans kind of languished... we covered them with a lightweight floating row cover to protect them from bean leaf beetles, which worked as it should against the insects -- and even though it's lightweight enough to allow sunlight to penetrate, it must limit the light somewhat.  When we uncovered the plants, they were pest free, but kinda small, and no match for the tomatoes.  Eventually too, the leaf beetles and aphids and some kind of other malaise got in there and so we're not really rolling in the beans.  So far, two pickings has yielded this:

They're nice, but just not very abundant.  And the edamame are kinda small....  Last weekend then, J. pulled up the soybeans, which is okay, b/c in a sunnier part of our plot, we've got second plantings of both kinds of beans going.  Once germinated, we covered the bush beans with the row cover again, but let the soybeans fend for themselves, finding that they seem to be less "bugged" (they are covered in hairs, which may deter the critters).  That turned out to be an interesting test -- the soybeans today look FABulous, but in contrast -- horrors! when we uncovered the green beans -- ew -- infested with aphids. (Note to selves:  introduce some aphid predators to the little microcosm next time.)   That many aphids is not unlike dealing with squash vine borers.  So gross.  The beans were holding their own, but didn't look very healthy.  J. spent some time washing off the thousands of aphids with water, and we hoped the plants would perk up. The aphids seem to be making a comeback, but in fact, the bush beans seem to be doing better.  I like eating beans all kinds of ways, but my intent with this year's crop was to pickle a bunch.  Might have to pickle next year, that's if we can figure out how to grow green beans in the south.

Last weekend we launched an attack on the fire ants, and guess what?  we won!  They had taken to eating our okra (see earlier post)...   J. first blasted the ants off the pods with water, then dried off the stem base of each plant and applied Tanglefoot (a sticky goo that traps any insect it comes into contact with, targeting those that crawl up the plant from the ground), and then sprinkled instant grits around each plant.  Yes, that's right.  Instant grits. We watched in amazement as the ants set about collecting the grains and taking them back to the colony (which is apparently in our plot).  Not sure how the grits work, but we've pieced together a hypothesis that the grits swell up back in the colony and maybe clog it up, making it inhabitable.  Alternatively, we've read that the workers feed the grits to the queen and then she explodes.  A lovely thought.  Whatevs.  We won.  Yesterday we did see a few stragglers, but nothing worth another deployment of our secret weapon. (Actually, it's not SO secret - we heard about anti-ant grits from other community gardeners.)  If we must, though, we've still got half a box of grits.  Nobody in the south is safe from the grits.


  1. Blasted fire ants! I ran afoul of them on Saturday while regrettably wearing sandles. My feet were mauled! My toes were swollen all weekend and I've counted at least nine bites on my right foot. Bastards!

    I just used whatever was in the shed to eliminate them. I'll check my success rate tomorrow.


  2. I'll chime in with you: BASTARDS! indeed! Sorry to hear about the swelling. They are really vicious. If you need some grits, let us know.