Flowers: Columbine, a perennial in the family Ranunculaceae. Aquilegia vulgaris (native to Europe) and Aquilegia canadensis (native to North America). Most cultivated varieties are hybrids of Aquilegia vulgaris. Columbine are usually easy to grow from seed. It's easy to harvest seed to share but most flowers won’t come true from seed if they are hybrids, but you’ll get something pretty. Scatter seed and watch them come up like weeds in the spring. (We call them a short-lived perennial that reseeds itself all over)
Vegetables: Beans, green and dried. Easy-peasy! Pole beans (Phaseolus vulgaris), runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) and bush beans (also P. vulgaris.) Pole beans must have support. Traditionally, people grow them up teepees. Bush beans are easier to grow. So many varieties!
Look for beans that are stringless or be prepared to remove strings as you snap the beans. Carol likes Provider and Contender for bush beans. Dee has grown both of those and Blue Lake 274, a more disease resistant variety. There’s also original Blue Lake and Blue Lake 47. Dee also loves Dragon or Dragon’s Tongue with speckled pods that cook up yellow.
Dee would like to try Tiger Eye, a dried bush bean that’s pretty. It is supposed to be creamier than pinto beans. Lazy Housewife is an heirloom variety that can be eaten green or allowed to dry and then picked and stored as dried beans. It’s a pole bean. It was 2015 Bean of the Year.
Remember shellie beans? Probably only if you’re older. Dee’s grandmother grew them. It was just a dry bean that she harvested fresh once the pods dried slightly. You can also buy varieties grown especially for this purpose called shell beans. Libby’s canned beans have shellie beans mixed with green beans. Here’s an article for shellie beans with recipes from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. The recipes with olive oil, garlic and sage or summer savory sound good.
Dirt: Vegetables Love Flowers, by Lisa Mason Ziegler. Great book! Dee likes that Lisa is a champion of annual flowers (which have nectar because they must set seed), and she wrote about bumblebees and buzz pollination.
Carol recently won an award for her book The Christmas Cottontail. In honor of the award she is giving away a copy of this book. Check out her blog, May Dreams Gardens, and enter by May 5 for a chance to win.
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