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Farm Visit # 2 New May Dates & Guided Tidbits for Participating Members\2nd of the Guided Tidbits

Posted 5/9/2017 1:05am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Genuine Potato, Dry Bean, & Garlic [SAP] Guided Tidbits for Participating Members\2nd of the Guided Tidbits

Dearest [SAP] Members,

I think that the time has come where all is going to aline to finally bring forth Farm Visit #2. By looking at the moon signs and the weather there is going to be a good opportunity this up and coming weekend and start of the week. We are in for some rains on Friday, but after that day it is clear and beautiful.

For all the dates listed below, you can chose to come out for any 3 hour time block during the day anywhere from 8am till 6pm. Just know that we will break for lunch sometime around midday, so try not to show up anywhere from 11:30-1:00. Please just send me a quick e-mail saying what date and the approximate time you are shooting for, so we can know when to expect you.

Sunday May 14th
Monday May 15th
Tuesday May 16th

At the Hands On Farm Visit #2, you will get to see the beautiful plot of potatoes, flax, and dry beans. It is this visual change from visit to visit of the natural surroundings and the vegetable growing plot that really helps one’s seasonal time clock bear witness to the seasonal cycles. I know not everyone got to make it out for the Farm Visit #1, but those of you who did, it will feel like a different world out here. We have left early spring and have entered full blown green, thick, and lush mid spring. The forest canopy is full, the fields have sheathed away there brown in exchange for green, and the plot of dirt has transformed into a vibrant spot that now has different textures & species of green potatoes, flax, & beans. Upon arrival I would recommend everyone just taking visual notes of how each potato plant variety has it’s own unique look, very subtle but it is noticeable, especially when you have 22 varieties to compare. You will fall in love with the thick Flax rows of green.

I had taken some current pictures of the plot that I thought about including, but with second thought I think it would be much more exciting for you to see it for your ownselves in person. This will allow you to try to make a mental picture of what you think the plot will look like.

At this Farm visit #2 you will get to plant some dry beans and you will get to see all the different varieties of dry bean seeds that will be growing for harvest. As it has continued to be so wet, I had an opportunity on this past Wednesday the 3rd to work in the field and get a lot of the dry beans planted. Like we always say, you have to make hay when the sun is shining and that day was a last minute go. I knew more rains were coming that very night, and the field was just right for doings. I got a round of cultivating done, got the first row of Austrian Crescent Heirloom Fingerlings hilled, and planted dry beans. As we were already a little behind schedule because of the rains, I made the decision to go ahead and get the majority of beans in the ground. Remember that part of the point of them being there is to be a companion to the potatoes, so I did not want their planting to get to far behind that of the potatoes, as they need to be growing at the same time for at least part of each's life cycle. I have saved 3 sections, so you will still get to have the hands on experience of planting the beans.

You will also be collecting compost from our compost pile to apply to the planted bean rows. The big task at hand will be hilling the potatoes. If you have never got to hill potatoes then it is a treat in itself. It is physical and it is very rewarding to finish a whole row and look back at your work. The soil will really be nice when we are doing the hilling, so the task will be pleasant even though it is physical. There is a magical transformation of our soils from late winter/early spring freshly turned to mid spring/early summer soil.

For the 2nd of the Guided Tidbit series, this one will focus primarily on Beans & Roots.

Bean Family: Fabaceae

The members of this family have traditionally been called legumes. Botanically the term legume denotes a simple dry fruit in the form of a pod that develops from a single carpel and usually dehisces, or splits, at maturity into 2 halves called valves, with the seed attached to the edge of one of the valves. If you are wondering about what a carpel is, this is one of the two inner parts of a flower and it is the female ovule bearing appendages, the other being the male reproductive stamen. Within the Carpel is the Pistil which consist of the ovary, style, & stigma. I feel like most of the time when people talk about the female part of a flower they talk about the Pistil, as not much mention is given to the term Carpel.

Most of the 40 species used in the human diet are annual PULSES, which are legumes harvested primarily for their protein rich dry seed. Instead of calling what you are growing Dry Beans technically they could be called Pulses. One might get some confused expressions if you talked about the Pulses you were growing, but hey, then you would be able to pass on the fun new vocabulary word.

Legume flowers have blossoms with an irregular shape that is often described as resembling a butterfly. The flower consist of 5 petals: 1 large oval banner or standard, 2 elongated prow shaped keel petals that are fused together, and 2 wing petals.
Of course the bean plants will be of just baby size, not any flowers yet, but I bet my pea plants will still be blooming when you all are here, so you can have a look at those to see what has been described.

Most often the petal color is white, but may also be many other beautiful shades of pastels, ranging from deep toilet, purple, pink, and salmon to shades of red.

The genus species of the Fabaceae family that you will be growing are:

Phaseolus vulgaris which includes snap beans, commons beans, green beans, & shell beans

Phaseolus lunatus which includes lima bean & butter bean

Vigna unguiculata which includes cowpeas


Well here we are again, another historic past with South America. Lima beans are among the oldest documented New World vegetables, traceable back to at least 5,000 B.C. in Peru. According to reports from Spaniards who first occupied Peru, lima beans were only eaten by the Incas and other Indian elite. The rest of society consumed common beans. Small-seeded varieties of the lima were also known in Mexico during pre-Columbian times, yet there is not much evidence that lima beans had spread northward to American Indians beyond the Southwest until introduced by European settlers. Mottled forms are known to have grown in Florida around old Indian sites, but may have been introduced through early contact with the Spanish. The Spanish and Portuguese were largely responsible for disseminating the lima bean to other parts of the world. Our English word for it, which refers to the Peruvian capital of Lima, more or less confirms the South American origin of the seed first studied by European botanists. Some of the old German herbals called it Mondbohne or “moon bean” in reference to the quarter-moon shape of the seed pod. The moon still figures in the species name lunatus, “moon-shaped.”

Green & Shell Beans also originated in South America, but the cowpea has a history that started in Africa. It has the highest tolerance for heat and dry sandy soils, hence why one hears of the cowpea being grown so readily in the South.

Where are Dry Beans Grown in the States Currently

When you have bought dry beans in the past at the grocery, if USA grown, they more than likely came form North Dakota, Michigan, Nebraska, or Minnesota. These states are the top producers of dry beans in the USA. The worst parts of conventionally grown beans, is that on average, large mono crop fields have to have 3 sprayings of pesticides and/or fungicides and lots of water and lots of chemical fertilizers. After hearing that, aren’t you happy to have the opportunity to grow your own Genuine SeedtoGather Seal Dry Beans…good for you, good for the environment, beautiful, and unique!


All legume roots form nodles, or lumpy growths, along the roots. This happens because of the symbiotic relationship between rhizobia bacteria and legume roots. The roots provide nutrition to the rhizobia bacteria and as the bacterias are being feed they convert nitrogen gas into a solid forms of nitrogen (an example of a solid form of nitrogen is a protein) in the nodules. That is why you have probably heard that legumes are nitrogen fixers…take nitrogen from the air and hold onto it for the plant’s use.

When the plant is grazed, mowed, or dies, the nitrogen becomes available to other plants. Or when consumed by us humans in the form of the dried fruit of the dry bean we are eating the nitrogen in its solid form of protein.

Legumes also help to bring oxygen into the soil. Clover is a wonderful perennial legume that can help bring oxygen into an oxygen deprived area. This could be a compacted area, a waterlogged area, or a heavy clay area. I always want to laugh when yard care landscapers always want to ride a yard of clover. We love clover for not just its leguminous properties, but also because of it’s blooming flowers that bees adore!

The Roots of Dry Beans form a taproot when young. Then before a young bean plant begins to mature, it produces a profuse number of roots in the top 10 inches of the soil, and the taproot grows to a depth of up to 24 inches. By the time the pods are forming beans, the taproot has increases its depth to 3 feet. The roots ramify the soil in a two foot radius around the plant. If you can just try to picture this description while you are out in the field working with the beans then you will be amazed! it has been said that a mere Lima Bean plant can ramify 200 cubic feet of soil, with a majority of the roots growing and feeding in the top two feet.

I love the fact that there is 1400 lbs of Nitrogen over every square foot of soil in the air. Basically, this retracts any need for any chemical nitrogen fertilizers. If the soil has a good store of beneficial bacteria, then the whole chemical Nitrogen fertilizer industry is a mere non necessary money making scheme that the masses have bought into and have believed every since the first World War.

In listening to a lecture once from Hugh Lovel, I wrote down a point that has stuck with me for a while, and it was in relation to Nitrogen. From a Biodynamic perspective, natural nitrogen through the atmosphere makes people more intelligent and sensory. So by eating organic & biodymaic foods we are eating foods that have been produced through natural nitrogen. If one eats conventional food then the body is taking in chemical man/made based nitrogen and therefore dulls the brain and the senses.


Roots Demystified by Robert Kourik

The Organic Seed Grower A Farmer’s Guide to Vegetable Seed Production by John Navazio

Mother Earth News Organic Gardening Heirloom Bean Varieties by William Woys Weaver

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


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