The Bean Field
Our current bean field started as a completely overgrown plot of rows that we resurrected.
First, McNeill used the weed eater to make the rows passable. Then with the help of some volunteers we used shovels and turned over the dirt in the rows to expose the roots of the unwanted plants to the sun for a few days. Next, the arduous task of hauling some supremely heavy compost by wheel barrow out to put on rows to boost the growing power and nutrition in the soil.
Once the compost was on…bean seeds went in and labeled stakes stuck in the ground. You’d think we could take a break now, right? Not a chance, the work has only just begun. We still had weeds to contend with, bare ground to cover, trellises to build and a watering system to implement. Normally we would need a watering system, but after installing drip lines, we have only used them a couple of times. The rain in our area is up over 200% from the average rainfall and we haven’t had to water much at all because of this.
Cardboard went down next! Between the rows to subdue the weeds but still keep the soil alive and thriving underneath. We cover the cardboard with wood chips or mulch. This is called sheet-mulching. So far we’ve been able to pick up all of our cardboard for free and recently we secured a place for free wood chips too! The ‘free’ is a good balancer when considering just how much pure, hard labor it is to get it all implemented!
When the beans began to grow we built the trellises for them. Again with the help of some stellar volunteers we used bamboo that would have otherwise been thrown away, p-cord and twine. A step ladder and a fence post pounder were the tools of choice to sink the bamboo down deep enough to stabilize it. Unfortunately since I was the one doing the climbing and pounding and I was also taking the pictures I don’t have a pic of that. I do have one from what it looked like from the top of the ladder 🙂 Do you know, that post pounder weights about 20lbs!
Now, our glorious bean field is surviving the browsings of deer. As we figure out that next challenge, we will continue to sheet mulch around the field for ease of weeding the perimeter and aesthetics. All the work we put into the bean field is paying off- it is pretty much no-maintenance from here on out until harvest because weeding all that sheet mulch is a cinch!