Friday, May 29, 2009

Dude, Where're My Beans?

I'm full of bad habits: procrastination, believing the worst, and picking scabs, to name a few. One of my latest bad habits is to dig up seeds in the garden to see if they're germinating. Two factors have contributed to the formation of this habit: 1) having more time on my hands than... ever, and 2) using old seeds.  Turns out that my old seeds seem to be germinating just fine. The cucurbits have a lower germination rate than fresh seeds, and perhaps the peppers as well, but all of the other seeds (peas, carrots, beets, lettuce, zinnias, sunflowers, and spinach) germinated like champs. 

The beans are a completely different story. I dug up some 5 year old heirloom beans from the back of the fridge. They were big, beautifully mottled red and white seeds. I germinated them in wet paper towels just to see if they were still viable and every single one germinated. So, I planted them. I also planted my favorite little green beans from Fedco: Maxibel Haricot Vert Green Beans. They're these long, thin bean pods that rarely get stringy or fibrous. I also planted Black Valentines, which I bought simply because the name sounded good. They're good beans. You just have to pick them early and often. I planted all of these 7 days ago, half of which were already germinated. I went out to the garden and started poking around this morning.

The poking turned into outright digging after finding no sign of bean or sprout in three different rows. I plunged my hands down into the soil and noticed something troubling each time. Right where the row of beans should be, there were little rodent-shaped tunnels. I expected to find germinated seeds, but I found nothing. My best guess is that moles or mice found the nutritious beans and had a delirious feast. 

At last I found one lone bean sprout emerging from the soil, now soaking in my salty tears. I have never had this problem before. I prefer direct seeding when possible because I don't have a greenhouse and it just seems to take too much work for plants that don't grow as vigorously. I never thought about starting beans inside. Boo. I was really excited about my diverse bean collection.

Anyway, I have a pile of Black Valentine seeds left. No heirlooms or Maxibel Haricot Verts, though. I actually considered replanting. So, this reminds me of one other bad habit I have: learning everything the hard way. I think I'll start my Black Valentines inside this time. 

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