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More News from the Trial Garden


Of course things never grow fast enough but it's hard to complain. After an erratic Spring with Biblical heat waves and cruel cold snaps, it's been pretty steady here in Napa: marine layer mornings that burn off to hot afternoons.


The plants that are doing the best are volunteer amaranth and tomatillos. The weed purslane is doing fine as well. When I was growing tomatoes, I'd always plant two Early Girls to not get frustrated while waiting for the rest of the heirloom varieties to ripen. With beans, the one to pick for my area is called California. It's a little slow to germinate but it once it does, it thrives and blossoms almost immediatley and so far it's always been the first one to have beans. I would think in a good year you might even get away with two crops. The problem is that the final beans are kind of ugly.


The most stubborn bean has been the small red lima from Chiapas. It's nearly September and it seemed like not a single flower, let alone a bean. And then almost overnight it produced inconsequential flowers followed by small thin beans!


The prettiest flowers are always the runner beans. I saw the flowers for sale in a market in Oaxaca. If the season threatens to end early, remember you can harvest the flowers and eat them like sprouts, toss them in a salad or saute them with chiles for a taco filling.


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