Landrace Crops, Bolita Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

Bolita beans are emerging before it rains. I usually plant them later, right before monsoon season, but planted with the Painted Corn. Here they are, even though it has been 2 weeks since the last rain.

Bolita Beans (Phaseolis vulgaris)

Bolita Beans (Phaseolis vulgaris)

I have grown Bolita Beans 3 years, and I love them.  Smaller than Pinto Beans, they are creamier in texture and cook in half the time.  These are a local landrace bean that I bought directly from the farmer at a local farmer’s market.  I bought a sack for eating before I bought my property, and never looked back.  I finished out my Pinto Beans in the cupboard (waste not want not) but these aare much better.  I have always preferred the yellow Canario Beans I bought in Mexico (100 pound sacks), but these taste better.

As a reminder, landrace species were developed over millenia to grow and produce crops on available soil and moisture.  Crops were not irrigated and did not deplete water tables or aquifers.  As lovely as irrigation seems, it has salted and destroyed millions of acres of farmland in the United States.  Irrigation is prohibited here for various reasons, and my neighbor was forced to pull out her grass patch and imported trees she watered daily.  They inspected based on her water bill.

I do not water.  If my Bolita Beans are too early, I will replant as the monsoons start.  I still had 2-1/2 gallons of Bolitas left when I planted these.  I have started pressure canning them.  No hurry, because I won’t can the last of them until I have new planting stock dry and in the cupboard.  Food stock as well, but self-sufficiency requires planting stock come before eating for landrace varieties.  While you can buy new seed in the Market Economy, if you are serious about developing a variety that will grow without irrigation, you hold the seeds even if you only got one to produce.  Better to buy food to tide you over than buy seeds.  Or, as our ancestors did, eat something that did well in your garden this year.  If beans did poorly but potatoes were prolific, potatoes it is.  If my naturalized parsnips are everywhere this year, and carrots don’t produce heavily… yum parsnips.

One endless draw of Market Economy food is that it insulates up from natural growing cycles, distancing us from what are still very real issues with ccrop failures.  Nice in a way but we lose touch with reality and we are dependent on a vast and complicated machinery called just-in-time merchandising, global shipping, corporate farm practices, and banking practices.  Food disappeared in Greece.  Food disappeared in Venezuela. Our food showing up on grocery store shelves is largely a function of banking policies, because the entire system is predicated on easy credit for each layer of the system.  A break in one layer breaks the system.  Add your Market Economy job into your personal layer and losing that job may mean you cannot buy what is on the shelf.  Over one million minor children in the United States are living on the streets with no food stamps or other government support.  This, in a country where 11 million illegal aliens have a “right” to enter and take jobs from parents.  Where sick and disabled Syrians who were bombed out of their homes by the US government now claim a right to enter and have free healthcare and permanent support paid by taxpayers through the US government distribution.

In this insane setup, I will go for self-sufficiency to the best of my ability.  Another point in favor of landrace varieties: water is frequently the biggest expense when growing your own food.  Most of the US has much more rain than my 16 inch average.  Work it.  At this time, garden produce is not taxed as income, but food bought in the Market Economy is purchased with after tax dollars even when there is no sales tax involved.

I am grateful to the many generations of New Mexicans that developed Landrace Bolitas Beans and kept them alive year after year.  As Monsanto controls more of our seeds, prices are going up such that the cost of seeds is also becoming a factor.  Landrace seeds are forever free to me.  I once bought enough Bolita Beans to eat and plant.  One time.  I never need to buy beans in the market economy again.  I do not want to subsist on beans, but they are a nutritious and healthy food that grows on every continent in varieties that grow in most climates.

Last note is that it is safest to keep back a 3 year supply of planting stock well marked and in the freezer if you have room.  In a cool, dark spot otherwise.  Bolita Beans are my landrace Phaseolus vulgaris, what is yours?



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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7 Responses to Landrace Crops, Bolita Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

  1. Helen says:

    I haven’t tried any saved beans yet but am intrigued by the idea of landrace varieties. They make eminent sense.

  2. Helen
    I grew up with the miracle of irrigation, making the desert bloom, all the massive and expensive taxpayer paid infrastructure. We were so innocent! It encouraged planting high water use crops in the desert, depletion of our aquifers, salinization of soil, and abandonment of millions of acres. Smaller countries cannot be as profligate. It makes sense and a lot of farmers are working smaller places with adapted crops. Ah well, we do the right thing eventually.

  3. Helen says:

    I’ve seen farmers using sprinklers here and drought affects our crop production every few years. So, we would be wise to consider alternative methods of feeding ourselves as well.

  4. Helen,
    This month I will also plant Tepary beans, they are my most drought tolerant beans. I am having more heat than usual this year, so I got them too. I think gardening is dancing in the universe. This year I will probably get more production from squash.

  5. Helen says:

    Yes, you can never predict what will be most productive. My best this year is self-sown chard.

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