Spring Planting, Legumes

For this spring planting, I have picked Bolita Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), Garden Peas (Pisum sativus), Lentils (Lens culinaris), and Tepary Beans (Phaseolus coccineus).

All are great nitrogen fixers, and because I do not use market economy fertilizer, legumes are planted in my garden for their nitrogen fixing qualities.  If you want, you can plant in one place and rotate your crops.  I generally intersperse them throughout and also around shrubs and fruit trees.

My Bolita bean is a landrace variety from this area. I plant right before the Monsoon season and as soon as the rains start, up come these bush beans. They will mature without supplemental watering in my mountain garden.  Perfection.

I have been reading that these small beans are in danger of extinction due to crossing with Pinto beans. I will not grow any other bean varieties so that I can keep a pure strain.  Beans in general self pollinate before they open; however it is possible.  I will keep my two Phaseolus species at least 30 feet apart for surety although it is rare for coccineus to cross with vulgaris.  I want about 10 pounds of Bolita beans.

Bolitas have a short season 90-day growing period and are determinate (bush) types. They are destined for a single harvest dry bean. I will miss growing common green beans, but believe these are more important.  One reason these beans are so drought tolerant is their deeper root system.

Bolita Beans are a good source of protein and are another candidate for bulk calories.  Corn completes the protein in beans for best nutrition.  With several candidates for bulk calories, all of which complement proteins in the others, I will be well on my way to food security.

Garden Peas are a favorite that I have grown in all my gardens.  This year will be different because I plan to expand the planting area in order to allow some to mature and dry.  In the past I have grown them for fresh peas only, delighting in their sweetness raw and cooked during the season.  The expansion allows some to dry to maturity for saving seed for future crops not tainted by GMO tampering.  I also want to have 3 pounds for split pea soup, so that in the future I will no longer purchase pea seeds, fresh or frozen peas, or dried split peas.

My third pick is lentils.  I have never grown them before, but they should do well in my cool climate.  I will plant brown lentils, the ones that I use for sprouts.  They don’t mind a late frost, so I will plant in late April and hope for the best results.  I have red, black, and French green lentils.  These, too, will be saved for next year’s seed.  Because lentils only need 12 to 14 inches of rain, I expect they will make a good landrace seed for me.  One more food that will not require irrigation in my dry southwestern garden.

My last pick is another landrace variety, Blue Speckled Tepary beans.  These beans have been cultivated for around 5000 years with little selection for any feature other than drought and heat tolerance.   They are among the most drought tolerant of crops for desert areas.  They are also short season plants, and will grow in my mountain garden during my summer monsoons.

In spite of the value of the Tepary bean, it has almost disappeared.   This is another bean that I believe will grow in my garden and that I want to help save from extinction.  Today I ordered this seed online.

This is a heavy producer, and the beans are known to help with both high cholesterol and diabetes.

In all, these four legume picks give me a good basis for a garden that will adapt to my location and help me provide my own food security.


About rebeccatreeseed

I am a naturalist raised by naturalists. Treeseed is my earned name, while Rebecca is my birth name. I am of Northern European descent, with a quarter Irish.quarter thrown in. I suspect I was a product of northern invaders into Ireland into Ireland. but hard to say since DNA disproved the family story about Apache blood! I have found some odd ancestors to replace them. Last year I bought 5 acres of pinyon-juniper forest on the side of a mountain in Santa Fe County, New Mexico. I am fulfilling a lifetime dream of a cabin in the mountains and a food forest that will feed me and local wildlife. I want to share this new phase of my life with others that might be interested.
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6 Responses to Spring Planting, Legumes

  1. jgeerlings says:

    Your recent posts introduced me to the term landrace seeds. Being curious, I searched the term to learn more. Reading Joseph Lofthouse, who has a blog on landrace seeds, I learned that he strives for genetic diversity by intentional cross pollination. Will you be planting your different lentils close together for cross pollination or keeping the different colors separate?

  2. Jgeerlings,
    I have brown, black, French green, and red. I will level out the red because they cook to mush, good for certain dishes but not a trait I want to encourage. I will plant my 3 other varieties, but plan to pass through an Asian food store and see what other varieties I can find. Many colors are part of the “brown” group, some include my black variety in that. When I plant red, I may plant them alone. When I see the seeds, I will pretty well know which are best for my property. I will keep them for 2017. If black is dominant, I will know the black mothers were most prolific. If brown, ditto. The color in lentils were not bred for… drought and heat tolerance was. Each color arose in different areas because they were the best suited for the area. All of them are landrace. These were planted by people who starved to death if they bred for anything but drought and heat. Combining different cultivars gives your own landrace variety a jump start. Make sure all varieties are good bets for your conditions. I will explain better on Melons.

  3. Helen says:

    Interesting information about beans. I can’t grow a wide variety but who knows with climate change!

  4. Helen, right! I am growing the dryland ones. Heck, I might hey coconut palms eventually!

  5. Richard says:

    I was looking into the possibility of planting tepary beans. I live in the Sandia Park area, elev 7000 ft. Saw your blog article. What do you plan to do about pests, insects, critters? Do they require hot weather similar to s. Arizona? What variety are you planting?

    • Hello Richard,
      Nice to hear from a neighbor.
      I am growing Blue Speckled Tepary Beans. They are from a cooler and higher elevation than some other teparies. As far as insects go, I
      have been increasing my native
      helpers… I built raised beds out of
      concrete block and now have a
      veritable army of Prairie Lizards
      living full time around my beds. I
      also have a pair of nesting Say’s Phoebe Flycatchers, demons for
      swooping in on bugs. I have many
      penstemon planted, and that attracted
      at least five (most I saw at one time)
      Hummingbirds last summer. They eat massive numbers of insects. The 24 inch high beds keep rabbits and voles at bay. I am working on raised bed 5 this week. I have grown Bolita beans in the ground without extra water or attendance, plus potatoes and asparagus. I don’t have that many Tepary seeds, so this year they get pride of place in a raised bed. When I have plenty… in the ground they go. I always plant beans tucked around other plants anyway, for nitrogen. A balanced ecosystem with polycultural mix instead of straight line monoculture has worked for me for decades. Good luck with your garden, let me know how it goes.

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