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Hill ‘o Beans

While the garden is an untamed weed-infested wreckage at the moment—and will remain so until the combination of torrential rain and brutal heat moves off, and I can get a little mulch in to tame some of the worst excesses—this crazy wet weather has produced an incredible crop of beans.


Good Mother Stallard

The two top performers are Rattlesnake Pole and Good Mother Stallard. I have no idea how they’d do in a NORMAL year (i.e. punishing heat, no rain after June) but they’ve gone crazy this year, which is good because nothing else is growing for shit. My tomato crop is staggering along, except for some relentlessly cheerful grape tomatoes, and while the tomatillos are producing (it is a sad, sad state of affairs when a tomatillo does not fruit) they aren’t very happy about it. Pretty much everything else just died outright.

But the beans…the beans are happy. These are all going to be soup beans, so a few times a day, I wander out into the garden, pick and handful or two, come inside and shell them. Takes about the same amount of time as making a good cup of tea. I have several plates padded with paper towels spread over various kitchen surfaces, and every now and again I turn the beans so they dry evenly. (Probably there’s a better method that involves equipment or something—I have no real idea what I’m doing—but this seems to work.) When they’re completely dry, I toss them in a bag or a jar and store them in the cupboard.

I am embarrassingly proud of these beans. It’s the same warm glow I feel when we make basil oil—”Look at that! We did that! That was us! We made a useful thing!” This is even less justified than the basil oil, because the bean plants seriously did all the work, I just popped them out of their respective pods. Still, I am dreadfully proud of these. More so than most paintings I’ve done—Look! I made food, guys! Look at it! It’s pretty! And we don’t have to eat them all right now until we’re sick to death of the sight of it, we can store them and have soup and chili and beans with garlic whenever we want! Isn’t that awesome?

This is a lot of thrill to derive from approximately half a pound of dried legumes. Believe me, I didn’t become a gardener because I have a good sense of proportion.

They talk a lot about the woes of being estranged from one’s food supply—and frankly, I’m just as glad not to live with mine, because it’s a high maintenance beast—but the occasional flings are pretty awesome nonetheless.

Originally published at Squash's Garden. You can comment here or there.


"I didn’t become a gardener because I have a good sense of proportion."

THIS. :) I would bet there's something *nutritional* about the thrill we get from helping things to grow.

Huh. So they're easy and fast to grow, then? I rent a plot in a community garden every year, and for some reason I've always been scared off by proper beans.

Ooh, those look tasty!

How are the Mother Stallards for taste? I never did get my beans planted. And everything else has been wiped out by all the rain and wind.

Except lilies. I've got some absolutely stunning Stargazer lilies this year.

I can totally empathize. Last year we made a single pecan pie with just pecans we'd found around the neighborhood or in the back yard, and shelled ourselves. Which still took forever because there were so many that were too rotten to use, or shattered into useless pieces if cracked open carelessly... but at the end, by god, we had a Real Pecan Pie with Real Pecans that we had collected and shelled from Real Trees with, uh, our Real Hands.

Congratulations- gorgeous beans!

I hope we can do that in a couple of years.

You probalby already know this, but just in case: don't put them into anything that will hold moisture until they're so dry they shatter if you stomp on them or hit them with a rock or hammer. If they still have any moisture, they'll mold in storage.

(I lost a whole bunch of beans one year. I mean,t hey FELT hard and dry!)

I keep thinking I should get some of those dessicant pack things...

I still yearn for the day I can have my own yard with my own chickens and collect my own eggs. (Ethical eggs! Local eggs! And so help me, ridiculously colored eggs from ridiculously ornamental chickens!). Right now, I'm just trying to convince my boyfriend we can grow tomatoes in pots on the roof... I agree, there's just something about homegrown food.

oh my gosh, I am so with you on the wanting chickens thing. o_o I got so excited when I saw someone in the neighborhood who had Buff Orpingtons, because eee, floofy heirloom chickens! Sadly, though, I am renting in the city so no chickens for me. Instead I grow peppers and tomatoes and greenbeans in tubs.

Sounds like you have some nitrogen and magnesium issues, and may need to rotate your tomatoes and peppers. I'm just up the way from you, and I have a bumper crop of peppers, tomatoes, squash, onions, pumpkins, and kale, but my beans haven't even stopped growing long enough to fully flower yet! and the tomatillos look like I'll get thousands but also haven't fruited yet. Early bearing can sometimes indicate the plant feels under pressure, plus legumes fix nitrogen where there isn't enough. Anyway, just some thoughts. Have you had your soil tested? There should be an extension office in Pittsboro where you can drop off a sample.

Magic beans, perhaps? I'd be more enthusiastic about beans if I weren't allergic to half of the species of beans I've tried - It's like playing a kind of culinary Russian roulette! I never know how I'm going to react until I try one for the first time. Then it's either edible or a violent allergic reaction erupts within seconds of the things entering my mouth.
They look tasty though.

Edited at 2013-07-20 12:03 am (UTC)

I'm allergic to soy, but not all of the proteins in it, so every soy product is also a new adventure. But soy (and beans) is so prevalent in foods everywhere that it's impossible to avoid completely.

If I grew those beans, I'd probably dry them in my Excalibur dehydrator, but I'm sure your method is more than adequate; after all, people have been air-drying beans for thousands of years.

How do you get such prodigious amounts of beans!? I have huge bean plants and lots of flowers...but no beans. Not one little bean. Not even a suggestion of a bean! How do you get them to set on beans!?!?

A little mulch. Yeah, we know how that winds up. Definitely not mulch ado about nothing.

Strangely, my beans took one look at the torrential rain and scorching heat and went "... mmmm... nope' where the heirloom tomatoes I babied from seed (Yes, oh patient husband, I do need shop lights propped up over trays in odd corners of the place) have grown into giant tomato-bearing bushes.