Farm News/Communication

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Posted 1/29/2018 12:05am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Dreaming of Potatoes and the First EEFFD 
January for farmers always involves seeds.  Inventories, Planning, Selection, Ordering & Eating.  We go to bed and arise with just this one our minds.  This year I agreed to take on the organization and placement of the local farmer group potato order.  There has been a small group of farmers that have been ordering potatoes from the Maine Potato Lady now for the last 8 years.  This group order was due mid week to insure that we TN potato planters get our potatoes in March.  It is hard to find potato distributers that will ship out potatoes in March, and so this is why I love the Maine Potato Lady, not to mention the companies wonderful selection of organic heirloom varieties.  
The most interesting fact to be learned by a potato order evolves around economics.  I always order certified organic Potato Seed and therefore I do not grapple with the differences in cost, as I know for our farm it is a must, but by organizing the group order, the difference in the cost of conventional potato seed and organic potato seed easily spelled itself out on paper right infront of my eyes.  A 50 lb Bag of Organic Adirondack Red Potato Seed cost $78.00 and a 50 lbs Bag of Conventional Adirondack Red Potato Seed cost $28.00.  The organic is about 2.8 times more in cost per pound than its conventional counterpart.  When one transcribes this into potato prices at the grocery, I think it would be found out that an organic potato does not sell for 2.8 times more than a conventional potato.  Now of course, one cannot buy but the basic potatoes in the grocery, but even by sliding on over to the local farmer's market the going price for an unusual non grocery store available variety sells for around $2.00-2.50 per pound.  This price is still not the appropriate mark up.  Let's say a conventional potato sells for $1.00/lb then that would mean that a specialty organic potato should sell for at least $2.80.  
Here at Arugula's Star we specialize in growing Organic Heirloom Fingerlings and the cost of a 50 lb Bag of Potato Seed of these blow all the other figures out of the water, with a whopping $117.00.  This cost is 4.1 times more per lb than the specialty conventional potato.  If you have always wondered why fingerling potatoes cost more then this is why.  An organic fingerling potato could and should bring at least $4.00/lb, which for certain will make me rethink our selling price for the 2018 season.  
The Heirloom Organic Fingerling Varieties that we ordered this year for Arugula's Star Farm were:
  • Austrian Crescent
  • Rose Finn Apple
  • Russian Banana
  • Red Thumb (not heirloom, but a beautiful little variety nonetheless!)
I was quite disappointed that one of my favorite Fingerling varieties called Magic Molly, a deep purple variety, was already out of stock.  
Come late June these lovely specialty fingerlings should start finding their way into many Nashville area restaurants.  You will be able to buy them by picking up On Farm, shopping at the Leipers Fork Farmer's Market, or by Front Door Delivery.  
This 4th week of January seemed to be the most mild thus far for this year and the month of January.  We started the week off with gentle rains and ended the week with gentle rains, with bright sunshine adorning us just in the nick of time on Sunday afternoon for the first of the 2018 Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Days.  Eastenn Dutch awoke the morning of saying with such excitement  "It's time to get up...people are coming out today to the forest!"  As we were putting out our farm banner and signs showing visitors the way, the fog lifted, the clouds cleared, and the sun shinned brilliantly.  The clearing seemed like an instant, a moment, a puff of magic.   As I presumed, our first one started out small with only a couple of families, but with time more will come.  The afternoon could not have been better.  We discovered chestnut oak acorns with root sprouts, sawed wood, built pretend forts, walked within the forest to a waterfall, and warmed wet feet by the fire. The next EEFFD will be on February Sunday the 18th from 1:30-4:30.
Until next time, stay warm, and enjoy the out of doors!
Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 1/27/2018 12:55am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Arugula's Star Farm is sending you a quick reminder about the 1st Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Day happening this  Sunday Jan. 28th from 1:30-4:30.
Afternoon sun and temps in the mid 50's are expected.  
Please come join us for Forest Exploration, Free Play, Firewood gathering, and Fire Ring Enjoyment.  We would love to have you. 

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 1/22/2018 3:25am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Snow Falls and Spring Calls
Another week with snowflakes falling, but instead of just flurries there was a substantial blanket of white.  By the end of the day on Tuesday I started realizing that "stockpiling" does not work when the steers cannot find the grass. They were trying their best to burrow their noses down through the snow to find what they could, but because of the accumulated 2 1/2 inches they were having lessened success by the minute.  Luckily, we remembered there was one dry round bale of good hay stored in the barn from a prior years hay mulch purchase that we were able to access to satisfy the steers hunger.  
Not only did the animal waters keep freezing, but Leipers Creek froze solid and we were able to enjoy sleding on the icy surface.  For those of you who received New Year's cards from us, you will notice that E.Dutch believed enough that his snow sled did indeed get to glide!  
A lot of firewood got chopped this week and we even started dropping the first out of 5 accessible dead oaks.  We are always sad to see such old large trees pass, while all at the same time thankful, as we yet have never had to chop down an alive tree for firewood. E. Dutch got some rope practice in and worked on his axing skills. By the end of the week, the weather suddenly broke and spring was calling. Who would have thought, what a nice reprieve!
Please remember that this coming weekend on Sunday the 28th from 1:30-4:30 is our first Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Day. As you can see we have the fire ring ready and waiting a top the hill, all it needs now is a handful of forest visitors to help get the fire ring started.  We will have different saw tools for different age levels for the non required participating project.  
Finally I am pleased to announce that the ASF Farming Partner Information has been posted and the Application is available for interested candidates.  Here is a little synopsis of What exactly an Arugula's Star Farm Farming Partner is...and to read in Full Click Here. 

An individual that basically embodies a shared work interest, both physically & mentally in the 2018 growing season, and takes on the role of being a comprehensive small farmer alongside myself Allison (and my little 3 1/2 year old co partner E. Dutch, and my husband Matthew that acts as only a background systems & equipment counselor).  Just as any farmer has to see all parts of the farm through from start to finish, so will be the expectation of an Arugula's Star Farm Partner.  With this mentality, workloads often come in cycles and vary week to week, but there are consistencies within the variations.  

My goal for partnering with a couple of individuals will allow the farm to GROW & THRIVE within a well managed farming system.  By partnering, there should be a duality of benefits for all partners..., for example I get to continue mowing forward with my organic/biodymaic farm goals within the canopy of our farm property, while still getting to be a very hands on Mom, and then the farm partners gets an opportunity to farm without any financial investment or loss.  If there are partners, then production can continue on when I am needing to perform a few Mom duties here and there.  

Please pass on this opportunity to anyone you see fit. I am wanting to try to fill these 2 positions as soon as possible and hopefully by the end of February before snap and snow peas start to be planted.

In the Bean Department, things are already starting on an up note. I took on a small experiment for a portion of the Heirloom Carolina Red Pole Dry Beans this past fall and it seems to have been a success. In 2017, all dry beans that were sold to restaurants through Nashville Grown were sold in shell, but the goal moving forward in 2018 is to offer shelled dry beans.  The 50 lbs that was set aside to hull and offer shelled has been purchased through MEEL and by an up and coming specialty Tea Shop on 12th Ave. South.  MEEL is Nashville's local meal kit and marketplace provision doorstep delivery company. We want to see how the Heirloom Beans move and are hoping to form a good bean partnership moving forward.  To buy our beans through MEEL or to purchase a meel kit please visit  


Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 1/15/2018 1:20am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.

Arugula's Star Farm Week 2...Arrival of the American Milking Devons

The weather was cold, then warm, then cold again with even a flurry of snow! How excited we were to see Loran Shallenberger, operator of Bells Bend Grass-fed, pulling down the lane this past Wednesday with two American Milking Devons(18 months old). This act had for certain been a long time in the making, as their scheduled delivery date was marked for July of 2017. As agriculture and farming goes though, timing is not always prompt, and nor can plans be to set in stone. Nature is always changing and it is hard to know from month to month what might turn out. As Loran put it, “Better Late than Never”!

These American Milking Devons are known as a heritage multipurpose breed. They were breed for three purposes…milking, drafting, and for beef. Our intent for them being here on our farm is for agricultural purposes of pasture management and obtaining manure. We are so called “custom grazing” these two steers for Bells Bend Grass-fed, while simultaneously getting the biodynamic benefit of their presence. Initially, there was going to be 5, but since winter is upon us only 2 were brought. They are going to be eating by the method of what is called “Stockpiling” and will not need to be fed any hay. Eastenn Dutch and I will just be rotating them on a regular basis into small paddock areas, for them to eat the browned over grass from the Fall. This type of stockpiled grass can supposedly provide better nutrition for the steers than feeding them rolled hay.

The weather was so pleasant on the day that they arrived that E. Dutch was out and about bare legged trying to introduce our dog to his new found friends. Then the weather changed and the snow flurries fell and we were back to breaking ice, splitting wood, and breaking kindling. We are really enjoying our new electric log splitter that we got to replace the old one we had that hooked and ran from the back of the tractor. This method should be more efficient and allows little ones to not have to breath in diesel fumes. This little splitter is quite and powerful and I would highly recommend it, that is if you are not using the old hand fashion method.   

As I mentioned the header topics last week and stated more info would be on the way, the first one to be complete is that of the Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Days. To learn about what these are just click here on Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Days.  These days are a very casual mimic of the concepts of nature school and forest school and are free and open to any families interested in participating. They will take place once a month for the whole duration of 2018, come rain, shine, cold or hot!  The first one will be held on Sunday January 28th from 1:30-4:30 pm.  We hope your family will try to make it!

Heirloom Potato Planning has started and so has hay mulch acquisitions. More Heirloom Carolina Red Lima Beans being shelled and thoughts of a design of a larger scaled (but still small scaled), dry bean sheller for 2018. I have a goal that Arugula's Star Farm will be a leading organic & biodynamic TN heirloom Dry Bean producer… no more having to get your specialty heirloom beans mail ordered from Rancho Gordo!

I will be needing 1-2 Arugula's Star Farming Partners for the 2018 growing season, with more info being posted on that by next week.

Keep your thoughts high and your feet grounded and until Next week eat your organics!

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 1/9/2018 1:06am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Happy New Year 2018...Arugula's Star Farm Week 1
E. Dutch with his new pitchfork
E. Dutch at Nanna & Grampy's Farm in East TN
Frozen Gammon Creek in the New Year Frigid Temps
First time ice skating
Going out for the afternoon feed in my Mom's vintage snow bibs from the 70's!
What great winter weather to help get the New Year started off to its appropriate season!  Eastenn Dutch and I got to start our New Year actually away from our farm on my parents farm in the tip end of East TN.
We just arrived home on Monday the 8th to get settled back into our day to day routine here. It seems as if the freezing temperatures decided to just get replaced by gloom and rain. The cold temperatures had left our house bone cold, so Matthew and E.Dutch got the two wood stoves a going in order to warm up the house to a good comfort level.  I think we all wore our down feather puffys for a couple of hours until we were able to shed them in exchange for good fire warmth and a warm bowl of our very own Heirloom Carolina Red Bean Soup!
While we were in East TN for holiday, Eastenn Dutch was very pleased with Santa Clause for brining him his requested pitchfork(like Grampy's)and his shovel(like that in a Gerda Muller Season's Book),so he could head out to the fields with Grampy helping him feed hay and break ice.  Minus the snow, the cold weather brought a frozen winter's wonderland to the small creeks and ponds.  I even got to pull out of the closet a saved pair of my Mom's winter snow bibs from the 70's that had a great MADE IN THE USA label inside.  I think Eastenn Dutch wore his wooly bibs all week long as the temps never made it above freezing.  Needless to say, we had a great holiday time at the farm away from our farm and wish you all the best heading into this New Found Year of 2018.
We here are looking very forward to a New Year.  By the end of the week, the website should be about updated for what is planned for the 2018 growing season.  Currently, updates are being made, but for the time being I will strike your curiosity with the below website headers...
Genuine SeedtoGather & biodynamic Growing Practices
Dry Beans, Fingerlings, Sweet Melons, & More
Ecosystem Exploration Family Farm Days
Farming Partners' Application 
We hope you will be able to partake in some portion of what we have to offer in 2018. More to come soon!  
Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 11/30/2017 11:23pm by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Arugula's Star Farm Tiding #11
December 1st has arrived and now in our book, so has the Christmas Holidays! We wish you all the merriest and sincerest of Seasons.  
As I was looking at the weather, I realized that this weekend would be a great time to get the last of the Heirloom Carolina Red Lima Dry Beans Harvested, before the rains and the colder weather pushes in.  Since I know we will be out picking all day on Sunday the 3rd, I had the idea to extend these pickings to you.  What a better start of the Holiday season than gathering beautiful festive red lima beans that then can be shelled around your families fireplaces over the holidays and into the New Year.  With the dark coming upon us now at 4:45, there is a wonderful opportunity in the evening for shelling.  I know this sounds quite archaic, but believe me there is something calming and purposeful about shelling beans.  
The weather on Sunday is forecasted to be in the 60's and sunny, which is prefect for this unusual farm outing.  Anytime really from 9:00am till 4:30pm would be a great time to come pick.  Then depending on if anyone would have the interest we will end the day up on top of the grassy hill top around an outside fire pit.   Just bring your favorite fireside drinks and snacks, if this notion "strikes a spark" of interest. The whole day will be a very casual affair, as not to be expecting any bells and whistles...just pure nature pickin fun!  
Dry Bean Picking Details and Cost:
It takes approximately 40-45 minutes to pick a full Half Bushel Basket of Limas.  
That 1/2 Bushel Holds about 5.8 lbs of Shell Beans, which then translates into about 4 lbs of Dry Beans.  
4 lbs of Dry Beans should give you about 10-11 cups.  
As a side note, everytime I cook up Dry Beans for us I use 2 cups of Dry Beans.  This means that if you or your family picked a 1/2 Bushel Full then you could make about 5 dishes from that amount.  You can choose if you would like to harvest more than 1/2 Bushel.  
We sell these Genuine SeedtoGather & biodynamic practices, Heirloom Carolina Red Limas for $6.25/lb, but for you as a "Pick your Own" Crop the cost will be $4.25/lb.    
These will be the best Lima Beans you have ever eaten for certain and all the while will serve you as a wonderful winter staple. 
We will hope to see a handful of people perhaps.  If you or your family have intentions of trying to come out, please send a quick e-mail or call letting us know.  Here is a link to directions to our farm. Driving Directions

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 8/9/2017 12:48am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Arugula's Star Farm Tiding #10 / Week #32 of 2017
We have been just harvesting away here lately…Potatoes, Beans, & Garlic.
Also, Fall Crop planting has started. I have our Brassicas & Chicories in trays and Root Crops & Fall Peas have been started directly in the field. In between the two Carolina Lima Beans rows, in the picture below, is where the Beet, Carrot, and Pea seed has been placed. One can also see how nicely the Limas are drying in the summer sun.  These Carolina Red Limas are planted from our very own saved seeds!  Really a delicious dry bean.  If you have never eaten anything other than a green lima, you really have to try these. Click here for crop variety details.

The Magic Molly Fingerlings are for sure a fun eat, as they hold their brilliant purple color through all cookings.

Please give our Genuine SeedtoGather Seal TM Potatoes, Dry Beans, & Garlic a try! 
Remember orders need to be received by 7 am on Thursday mornings for front door, business, or on farm pick ups. Also, I know I have only mentioned Nashville Town front door drop offs or at least in route to Nashville Town, but if there is a large enough order from a handful of people from Columbia or Franklin town, I would be willing to do a delivery to those locations as well.
Sure hope to hear from you soon.  Thanks, Allie

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 8/2/2017 1:12am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Just a quick reminder letting you know that Potatoes are being dug, Dry Beans are being picked, and Garlic has been cured.  What baskets of fun!  As Potatoes are moving through Nashville Grown to restaurants, varieties are already starting to sell out.  Both Mountain Rose and All Blues are no longer available.  Then there are a handful like Harvest Moon, Adirondack Red & Blue, Heirloom Austrian Crescent Fingerling, Heirloom Rose Finn Apple Fingerling, & Magic Molly Fingerling that I predict will not be around for long, so if you are interested please get them while you can.  Remember we grew 22 varieties of potatoes this year, so we have quite the unbelievable selection for those of you who love to cook up potatoes.  Our Dry Bean and Garlic varieties are very high as well.
Henley and 360 Bistro are the two restaurants that are in the lead for purchasing the most amount of potatoes thus far!  I would love to hear if anyone has eaten at either of these two restaurants and had our potatoes!  I know 360 Bistro has been around for a while, but I think Henley is fairly new and is located in a new Hotel of sorts off of West End/Broadway.  
We will even drop off your order to your door or business, if you are in the spoke of locations on the order form.  We do Drop off deliveries on Thursday afternoons, as this is when we come in town to drop off our ordered potatoes to Nashville Grown (right across from Richland Park off of Charlotte Pike).  If you are wanting a Thursday drop off,  your order will need to be received before 7 am on Thursday mornings!
On Farm pick-ups are always happening on the weekends from now until storage crops are sold out. If  you are wanting a weekend On Farm Pick Up at the Rocket, your order will need to be received before 7 am on Thursday mornings.    
Just Read and  Electronically Fill out Form and then click to send right on in.  Other than having to decide what varieties you would like, it is a very quick and easy process.  
Aren't those the most impressive Pole Bean Rows you have ever seen.  Those are our very own Carolina Red Lima's...grown from our own saved seed.  The trellises are 8 feet tall!  
You can see Eastenn Dutch and I are out digging up some Heirloom Rose Finn Apple Fingerlings.  Yes we dig by hand.  Twice a week..hundreds of pounds each.  Lot's of digging still to go, but I would say we have dug out at least 1/3 of the 12 by 220 ft rows.  
Also pictured below are Heirloom Rockwell Dry Beans, and Strawberry Paw Late Season Potatoes.  
Hope to be delivering to your door step soon!
Thanks, Allie

Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


Posted 7/10/2017 1:58am by Allison Mills Neal & Matthew Neal.
Arugula's Star Farm Tiding # 8 / Week 28 of 2017

Here are our two 220 ft runs of Heirloom Carolina Red Pole Beans.  Growing Tall and Thick on our 8 ft tall metal trellis system. Lots of Dry Lima Beans coming your way! One can just hear the bees a buzzing on the bean flowers when you walk down the rows.  

Hello to all from Arugula’s Star Farm!

Summer swept right in and here we find ourselves in the month of July. July is the month in which I think all of nature and life is at its most full…green areas that have been kept wild are so dense with vegetative species, insects are in a constant buzz and hum, and gardens are full and running over with harvest.

A lot has happened since our last note. Potato digging started about 2 weeks ago and since we had minimal SAP members the main focus now is trying to sell and move all the thousands of pounds of potatoes that will be harvested out of the ground. To start with, I have been offering my items through Nashville Grown and I am seeing a steady increase with our largest order to date yet today!

If you patron a restaurant now and then in Nashville, these are the ones that have purchased either Potatoes, Garlic, Cucumbers, or Snap Beans from our farm thus far. Funny how we have not been out to eat since I think it was back in 2007 in Nashville, so I was completely out of the current trendy restaurant loop. It has been fun learning about all these new restaurants. I am even thinking we might give EiO and the Hive a try since “everything is organic”.

360 Bistro
EiO & The Hive
Richland Country Club
Lockeland Table
The Treehouse Restaurant
Urban Cowboy
Old School Farm Restaurant
Two Ten Jack
Miel Restaurant
Catbird Seat
Rolf & Daughters

So now…how do you as a reader get in on these fantastic potatoes that are being harvested! Not to mention our Garlic and eventual Dry Beans.

1. On Farm Pick Up At the Rocket on weekends (noon on Fridays -Dark on Sunday night)

2. I am going to start off trying Thursday Nashville In Town Deliveries. As long as you live somewhere in any of the local Nashville neighborhoods (Examples…Green Hills, Belmont Neighborhood, Belle Meade, Whitland Neighborhood, West Meade, Belmont/Waverly, Forest Hills, Around the Warner Parks, Oak Hill, Richland Park, or anywhere in between our farm and Nashville town) I will be willing to do a door drop off. A minimum order of 5 lbs of potatoes (mix and match) will have to be placed to get the front door special delivery. As all items offered are storage crops, you will not have to be home. I will just leave them at your from door. Easy as that!

We have around 20 varieties of potatoes to choose from. Here is a link to the varieties and great descriptions. Genuine SeedtoGather Seal TM Potatoes, Garlic, & Dry Beans.

We have an order page if you would like to place your order on line. Order your Storage Crops Now Here.

You can also just send an e-mail letting me know what you would like. Be sure to let me know your address, if you are placing a Nashville In Town Order.

Also, if you want to get a small group together to come out and do a “YOU Dig Potato” then that might be a possibility. Just send me a note if you are interested in this option.

A good big change for the farm is that we finally are going to incorporate cattle to the fields.  Bells Bend Grassfed (Loran), is going to custom graze about 5 Steers here.  We have been working on our fencing & water systems and the cattle should be here sometime this week or next.  Can't wait to see the cattle grazing and manuring our fields and compost!

The last note of happenings is that I have had the out of the blue opportunity to do some personal cooking again for R.S. Lipman (part time, mainly on weekends). It arose and I thought I would give it a try. My first day was on June 30th and I think this was the longest time that I had been away from Eastenn Dutch since he was born and he will be 3 in August. I will say though, it is quite fun being back cooking in someone else’s kitchen other than my own.

Hope you will try some of our Storage Crops and until next time happy eatings! 


Allison Mills Neal 

6624 Leipers Creek Road; Columbia, TN 38401


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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