Before we get into the ‘beans and potatoes’ of this episode, Dave and Greg chat about the growing problem of Ticks and Lyme Disease here in The Maritimes. Greg tells of a recent tick encounter during a fishing trip and Dave refers to two previously produced episodes of his other show, The Maritime Outdoorsman Podcast, (episode 005 and 006). While being outdoors goes hand in hand with gardening, you can be better prepared for these nasty insects that carry a potentially life altering disease.
Beans and Potatoes
While these plants are humble, many of us consider them uninteresting because the only ones we have ever eaten are the lousy ones we buy in the grocery store. Aside from being very easy to grow and good for your soil in many ways, when they are grown in healthy soil, the taste is fantastic and they are very healthy for you. In addition, careful preparation can result in your having fresh beans from late July through to October, and potatoes from midsummer until the next year if you grow enough. Did I also mention that each year’s crop will provide the seeds for the next year? That’s right, free food forever!
Why should you grow them?
We often associate two words with potatoes: Bland and unhealthy. Well nothing could be further from the truth. In the flavour department, the potatoes that you buy in the store are not very flavorful because the varieties have been selected for how long they keep, how well they ship, and their ability to withstand the many stresses that are associated with conventional agricultural techniques. Many of the varieties that you can buy as seed potatoes are all about the flavour. Moreover, when you grow potatoes in healthy soil, the flavour is just amazing. In the health department, potatoes are great, it’s just the stuff we like to add to our potatoes that tend to make them less healthy. A quick glance at the nutrient data for potatoes according to Health Canada shows that they are mostly made of water, and that they have a little bit of everything in terms of vitamins and minerals.
How to get started?
Potatoes are one of the easiest things you can grow in your garden. Last year as an experiment I literally grew potatoes under a pile of weeds that I had pulled from the garden that season! If you already have a garden bed prepared, dig down at least 6 inches, place the whole potato in the hole, fill it back in and cover with at least 3 inches of whatever mulch you can find. if you don’t have a garden bed, just choose a spot, lay down about 3 layers of newspaper to kill weeds, throw some manure or compost down (2-3 inches), space potatoes about 1 foot apart (again, whole potatoes, don’t slice them up), then cover with another couple inches of soil/compost/manure, and then pile straw or hay about a foot high over them and walk away. After roughly 2 months, they will start to turn yellow and die, and that’s when you get to start eating your own potatoes.
2) Eat your beans!
Why should you grow them?
Whether you like them raw, steamed, sautéed, green beans are huge in the nutrition department. I think most people don’t like them because their earliest memory is that of eating flavorless canned green beans, or totally over-cooked boiled beans as a child. When you pick them fresh from your garden, they are delicious, and of course, just loaded with vitamins and minerals. The nutrient data according to Health Canada suggests that fresh beans are basically a super vitamin pill – and if you ever choose to grow them, regardless of the variety, you will taste the difference that fresh beans have to offer. Like potatoes, beans are very easy to grow, and can actually improve your soil!
How to get started?
Your first decision is to choose between bush beans or pole beans. Pole beans need a trellis for support, but produce more beans per plant, and produce for a longer period of time. Bush beans do not need support to grow, and produce much earlier than pole beans… but they also produce all their beans in a very short period of time. I suggest planting both – that way you get your bush beans early, and then just as the start giving up, the pole beans keep you going until the frost arrives. A good strategy is to plant the pole bens behind the bush beans, relative to the sun, so that as the pole beans start getting tall, they do not block the sun from getting to the bush beans. You can also plant pole beans behind potato plants in the same way, which is in fact what I’ve done this year in one of my potato gardens. Beans are very forgiving of poor soils, and are a good thing to plant in a garden bed that has not performed well in previous years because their roots will increase the amount of nitrogen in the soil.
Try them, you just might like them!
If you have a little extra room somewhere this season and can’t decide what to plant, get some beans and potatoes in that soil. The flavour will really surprise you, and if you’re anything like me, you’ll want to grow more every year.
Featured resource for seeds – Halifax Seed
If you are looking for a great source for quality seeds, be sure to check out Halifax Seed. They have locations in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
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