Monday, July 26, 2010

What's Growing ~ Bush Beans

Bush beans are one of my favorite garden crops. There is nothing that can compare to fresh picked green beans or even the ones you freeze yourself. Canned beans just won’t ever compare. Tim’s Uncle Lloyd, who now lives in South Carolina, says one of his friends once told him “That’s the thing about Northerners, they under cook their green beans.” You’re darn right we do! They should squeak when you bite them. And we under cook our corn on the cob too… or you Southerners over cook yours, depending on your point of view. But that’s a topic for another day. Every time Lloyd comes to visit, I make him green beans and corn on the cob. He seems to prefer the Northern cooking methods. If not, he’s too Southern to say otherwise.

The bush beans are just now coming on strong. And this is where I must make my first mention of “gardening for the old and myopic”. I prefer yellow or purple beans. Why? Because I can see to pick them. This is doubly important in bush beans because they’re low to the ground, and they look a lot like stems. Plus the yellow Goldmine beans from Burpee are just beautiful creamy beans.

And the Purple Queen… I’ve rarely seen a more gorgeous vegetable. Those purple pods look like frosted art glass hanging against bright green leaves. They’re simply stunning. The only problem with purple beans is when you cook them they turn boring green. The water, however turns a brilliant green. I’m talking lime jello green. It’s rather shocking.

My favorite green variety of bush bean is Blue Lake 47. I’ve tried a few others such as Contender and Tenderpick, but Blue Lake has the yield and the quality that I’m looking for so it’s the one I go back to year after year. This year I also planted Isar yellow filet bean. It will be a little while before they produce, so the jury is still out on that one.

I start planting the bush beans in mid-May, and keep planting a row every week or two until I run out of space or beans. I’m planning to plant another row or two in the coming week. I’ve found that the Goldmine variety, if you leave them alone when their first crop is over, will rally again the end of August and produce a nice second crop. That is if the weather is milder and they don’t burn up and dry out before then, and you are kind to them when you harvest the beans and don’t break the heck out of the plants. It’s also important to keep them picked and not let any get too mature or the plants will just plain quit.

Green Bean Facts:
  • Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. The common bean has been cultivated for six thousand years in the Americas.

  • Beans were an important source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today.

  • There are over 4,000 cultivars of bean on record in the United States alone.
    Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh come from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus during his exploration of what may have been the Bahamas, found them being grown in fields

  • Fresh green beans are very low in calories and contain no saturated fat; but are very good source of vitamins, minerals and plant derived micro-nutrients.

  • They are very rich source of dietary fiber

  • Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, and many health promoting flavonoid poly phenolic antioxidants such as lutein, zeaxanthin and beta carotene in good amounts.
    They contain good amounts of vitamin-B6 (pyridoxine), thiamin (vitamin B-1), vitamin-C. and minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium which are very essential for body metabolism.

  • Snap beans got their nickname from the snapping sound they make when being broken.
    String beans are called that because most varieties used to have a long fibrous string that ran along the seam of the bean. Botanists found a way to remove the string and in 1894 the first successful stringless bean plant was cultivated.

1 comment:

  1. It never occurred to me before reading your bean post to note that I COULD grow different colours and therefore I COULD ALSO see to pick them instead of having to go on an astigmatistic treasure hunt. This is more or less like putting the bottom of a coke bottle in front of both your eyes, except less fun. Sometimes, I swear there are blond roots hidden deep down in my scalp someplace.