Caster Beans?

Discussion in 'Gardening & Plant Propagation' started by simple..., Feb 10, 2007.

  1. simple...

    simple... New Member

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    In Janet Chadwick's book "How to live on almost nothing and have plenty" she talks about planting caster beans at the 4 corners of your garden to keep the moles out. My questions is has anyone done this? I purchased some caster beans and was going to try it in my garden this year. They came without instructions on planting them. Does anyone have tips on planting them? Can I start in my makeshift greenhouse inside?
    What do you think my friends?
     
  2. veggrower

    veggrower Well-Known Member

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    I heartily endorse castor beans!!!!!!!! I smiled when I read the tag for this thread.

    1st, I want to say that I have no idea of the effectiveness of castor beans for keeping out moles. Keep in mind that they are poisonous.

    That said, one of the 1st things I ever planted were castor beans. My Dad started me in the garden when I was still in diapers, toddling around with a bottle in my mouth. He helped me plant cherry tomatoes, knowing that they were just the right size for my chubby little fingers to harvest. He also helped me plant seeds of plants that would get HUGE and had large seeds that were easy for a toddler to grasp and sow. Sunflowers and castor beans--what an impressive sight for a toddler--they reached almost to the sky!!! Both very showy and beautiful. Dad always impressed upon me not to put them in my mouth because they were yucky and would make me sick. I hope you grow some just for the show.

    Now I'm all weepy and nostalgic. :Bawling:
     

  3. Zebraman

    Zebraman Well-Known Member

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    Hey Guys;They are really effective against moles,however you might want to plant all along the perameter of your garden as moles don't just stick to the corners for entry.The Red variety is a lot prettier than the green.If you live in A warm climate they become Invasive.This is also the source for the Bio-Weapon Ricin.-
     
  4. simple...

    simple... New Member

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    Veggrower, I too thought the caster bean plant was nice looking. Figured I try it this year at least.

    Zebraman, very interesting about it being the source for ricin. Rest assured my target are the moles.

    I understand the beans are toxic, but its just the dry beans right? Would it be harmful for our dog and cat?

    Would I be able to till back into the garden while the plant is still green or does it dry out over the summer?

    Thank you guys for your help.
     
  5. Cindy in NY

    Cindy in NY Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We soak our seeds in water overnight before planting.
     
  6. veggrower

    veggrower Well-Known Member

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    Stays green or red til it winter kills. I don't remember them being very frost hardy.
     
  7. suburbanite

    suburbanite Well-Known Member

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    Yes they are toxic to cats and dogs. I'm not sure if it is the beans (green or dry) or the entire plant that is toxic.
     
  8. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    Although the leaves and stems are somewhat poison, they are not considered a risk to pets. I've grown the big green-leafed type in the past and know that they didn't deter squirrels. They can get up to 10' or more even in our short growing season. First hint of frost and they are done.

    Tilling would only be an option after chopping the stems to bits. It's almost as hard as wood. If you try to shred them, you may end up with a tangled mass of tough fibers.

    Martin
     
  9. lonelyfarmgirl

    lonelyfarmgirl Well-Known Member Supporter

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    One single injested castor bean will kill a child.
    And yes, they are equally poisonous to dogs and cats.
     
  10. Paranoid

    Paranoid Homebrewed Happiness

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  11. blue gecko

    blue gecko Well-Known Member

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    The cold pressed oil of the bean however has some excellent uses: lubricant, lamp oil, skin lotion for starters. The toxic part remains in the solid part of the seed and can be released if heated so cold pressing is the only way to go.

    I've never cold pressed and I'm sure there are oil presses just for it but I would think the same thing could be accomplished by grinding or crushing the beans, putting them in some water or alcohol (somewhere I read that the oil is slightly soluble in alcohol), letting them soak awhile. straining the liquid, putting the liquid in a narrow vessel, letting the oil rise to the top and then dipping it off. IMO It sounds like a reasonable substitution for lamp oil and might be worth trying.
     
  12. ceresone

    ceresone Well-Known Member Supporter

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    i, personally, wont plant them because they are so toxic, all parts, to everything.
     
  13. dcross

    dcross Well-Known Member Supporter

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  14. buzzboy

    buzzboy Well-Known Member

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    My dogs do not eat them.my chickens do not eat them, and I plant them all over the place.First, I like the looks of them very much.I grow a red and a green variety.Also they do help repel moles, but the poster that recommended that you plant them all around is correct...the first year I planted them in the corners and saw no mole runs near the plants, but there were plenty elsewhere leading into the garden. I also plant seeds next to my beehives to add dappled shade for them in the summer heat.
    They start easily indoors with moderate watering needs...also saving seeds from them is a cinch.You get MANY seeds from just one plant.I find yet another use in that I use these abundant seeds to plant a hedge in front of my house each summer to block the view of the road(wife and I still cannot commit to a "proper" hedge.
     
  15. tnokie

    tnokie Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I have planted them for years. Last year they were alongside my dog pen. No ill effects,they seem to know to leave them alone. I also have had them around chickens with no effects ,maybe just lucky . They are immpresive . mine grow froom a seed to small tree size in one year. Takes a saw to cut them down in winter! I have the red leafed kind. Have lots of seeds if someone wants to try them.
     
  16. Paquebot

    Paquebot Well-Known Member

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    We grew a quite large plot of castor beans in 1944. We were just one of many who grew them that year. Probably done for the war effort right alongside the Victory Garden campaign. I don't remember any stern life or death warnings but also didn't try eating any! Even to present day, castor oil is used in certain racing motors. Were it not so expensive, that's what we'd have in all of our piston motors. And, yes, I do remember the taste of it as a child since that was used to cure just about everything!

    Martin
     
  17. MELOC

    MELOC Master Of My Domain

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    the oil makes a nice lather in soap.