Friday, August 19, 2011

Beans, Beans, The Magical Fruit....

The more you grow, the more you begin to really like these things.

I know that doesn't exactly follow the old ditty, but it's close enough for my taste.

Earlier this summer, I had finished the lettuce harvest and needed another crop to sow in that bed. My grandson was out there with me, helping to turn and rake and supplement. When we got done with that, he asked me what we were going to plant in it. I guess it seemed the most logical thing in the world to him. We had just prepared a garden bed and now he wanted to know what we were going to plant. I didn't know. I hadn't thought that far ahead. The lettuce succumbed to the heat sooner than I thought it would and I wasn't ready for my fall garden yet.

I scrambled a bit and as I was walking into the pantry, I noticed a bag of beans on the shelf. Pinto beans. Next to them were some white beans, then some Navy beans (smaller white beans). In the freezer were some black-eyed beans that I had grown last year. I don't know how they got into the freezer, I don't freeze my seeds. I grabbed all of these and went back out to the garden.

I showed him how to broadcast them and get a nice even distribution. I didn't plant these with a lot of faith that they would grow. These were store-bought pintos intended to be eaten, not grown. The white beans we had dry-packed nearly 10 years ago intending to eat them. And the black-eyed beans had been in the freezer for who-knows-how-long? But, we sowed and then blanketed them with a mulch of straw. I showed my grandson how to water them and set him to it.
Amazing how much effort is displayed here. The seed halves have
not fallen off yet, and it has pushed up through two or three inches of straw.

He watered them every day as instructed. I checked the soil every evening after work. It was always moist and warm, two good things for germinating seeds. After a few days, I noticed an wonderful thing. Strong beans pushing up through the mulch.
First one, then two, the three hundred.
These guys just kept popping up day after day. I noticed a few one morning, then dozens the next, then too many to count on the next. It was magical.
A new neighborhood overnight.
The true leaves started to unfold and grow and the straw began to disappear. It went from a calm sea of yellow-brown straw to undulating waves of bright green leaves in the course of a week.

About two to three weeks after planting. A foot+ tall and no sign of the straw mulch.
Then the flowers came. Beans have weird flowers. They are flat and smooth and not really very pretty unless you consider their purpose. Then they split and the beans start to appear.
The beans a-bloomin'
These are strong plants, in spite of the fact that they are growing at about twice the "advised" density that the garden manuals say. I guess they like living that close together. Kind of like living in a city.

Look closely, you can see the bumps inside the pod.
My grandson got to show off his bit of the garden recently when his other grandparents came to visit. He proudly led them out to the garden to show them all the green stuff. He talked about planting them and watering them. If he had had any buttons on his t-shirt, I'm sure they would have popped off. His grandparents were duly impressed with his work.
The pods push the flower petal up and off. These grew in about 12 hours from flower to pod.
My daughter had the coolest comment about them. She used the same comment on my tomatoes earlier this year and it has become the standard comment about the plants in the garden. She said they were happy beans. Seeing the growth and the lushness of the plants, the flowers and the abundance of the pods, I'm inclined to agree. They must be happy.

And they're not the only ones.

1 comment:

  1. Dad, those are amazing! It's so pretty too! Who cares what the gardening manuals say? I like it when it looks full and dense like that. So pretty! Whichever kid it was, tell them I said they did a fantastic job growing all those. It will be a blast letting him pull them all off.


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