Bush Beans

My plan was to complain about how many sour cherries I had and all the work I put into picking, freezing, canning and baking them. But then this morning I decided I would head on over to the community garden and harvest the first of the bush beans. Good idea. I’ll come back to the sour cherries later on, I still have a bit of resentment towards them if you hadn’t picked up on that. 

I’ve almost always had great luck with bush beans, except once. Beans need to be planted after all danger of frost has passed and when the soil has warmed up a bit – they do not like cold and damp weather. So I’ve learned that planting them in May is pretty much out of the question, so I usually end up putting mine in the first week of June. The reason why they failed that one year is because I planted them the May long weekend with everything else. That was also the year it snowed the first week of June. So the moral of the story is wait until June to plant them, but be prepared for disappointment because it might snow in June anyway. 

So here is the haul from this morning – a 4L pail full of bush beans, every color of the rainbow. 

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Almost half of my plot this year at the community garden was bush beans – about 15 or so plants. I usually disregard the rules and sow the seeds closer than the packages instruct – real estate is valuable when you garden in small spaces! It doesn’t seem to affect the harvest though because I always get more beans than I know what to do with. For some reason no one has ever tried to steal my beans from the community garden – maybe it is because they are a little bit hidden underneath the leaves, or maybe because the unusual colors weird people out. My sister and I used to add food coloring to pancakes when we were younger and left to our own cooking devices and I remember once a family friend being completely turned off by eating green and purple pancakes upon offering, even though they still tasted exactly the same. Maybe it’s like that. Regardless, I am pretty attracted to vegetables that are not “normal” colors. Unfortunately all the colored beans, except the yellow ones, turn green upon cooking. 

The other great thing to point out about beans is that while most other vegetables suck the nutrients out of the soil like little green vampires, beans enrich the soil with nitrogen. It is debatable how much nitrogen they actually add back into the soil – I’m not a scientist and I’ve never bother to do soil testing before and after planting beans. But if there is even a slight chance that they are good for the soil, it’s an added bonus in my books. I am really good about amending my soil at home with compost and manure, but at the community garden I am a horrible, neglectful gardener who fails to amend my soil. Shame on me. But if the beans help in any way, thank you little friends. 

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Here is a list of all the bush beans I planted and where they were purchased incase you were interested:

Blue Lake 274 (green) – Botanical Interests
Pencil Pod (yellow) – Botanical Interests
Royal Burgundy (dark purple) – Botanical Interests
Red Swan (red/light purple) – Seed Savers Exchange
Tongue of Fire (green/red striped) – Urban Harvest

So what did I end up doing with this haul? I made a few cans of mustardy bean pickles (photo below) using a recipe from my Mom. And I saved the rest for eating fresh this week. I expect to have another significant harvest next week so I’ll be making some more (different) pickles from a recipe made up by myself, although not completely original (I had a habit last year buying expensive jars of pickled beans, cauliflower and carrots on a weekly basis from the local farmer’s market and ended up forcing myself to figure out how to replicate the recipe). I will share that recipe at a later date so that you too can become addicted to what I refer to as “crack pickles”. 

IMG_3464Mustardy pickled beans featuring onions, green peppers and turmeric

I don’t think that there will ever be a year that I do not plant bush beans. They are one of the easiest crops to grow anywhere (even in containers), don’t mind neglect and a little bit of drought, and are always prolific producers. Plus you can pick them, steam them, and be eating them in 10 minutes. What’s not to love? 

 

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