Our vegetable garden this year is very different from last year. We had a lot of cherry tomatoes last year from seeds that sprouted up in compost I used. There are not many of them this year as I’ve pulled the sprouts out early before my guilt set in. I just can’t bring myself to demolish a perfectly good plant. I didn’t expect the uneven weather we’ve had that caused a lot of the tomato flowers to drop and the fruits to grow very slowly. Beans, Kale, Broccoli and Swiss Chard are doing well though. I can’t pick them fast enough.
August is here and the temperature dropping close to 50°F for a few nights has not helped either. What happened to summer? I’m debating whether I should sow winter vegetables now or wait until mid-September as usual.
I love beans, all types of beans, and fresh picked beans are the best. They are crispy and sweet when blanched. Some beans are good to eat fresh like Asian Long bean. So I’ve never missed growing beans each summer. In the past, growing beans has taken up some valuable space in our small vegetable garden owing to the ‘teepees’ I constructed to hold them up. I had to give the base enough circumference to withstand the wind so a large chunk of space inside the circle was wasted. Then I bought a couple of ready-made metal bean poles that take up one square foot in area and stand seven feet tall. They were great as they used less space and each has four pegs to hold it to the ground. But, the rust was a problem and when the beans grew really thick I had difficulty reaching the pods inside the square without breaking the vines.
I had a Eureka moment one day when I walked under one of the trellises. Why not grow the beans on a trellis? The bean flowers look pretty and the pods will hang nicely. It doesn’t take up space if I put the trellis over the walkway and it doesn’t matter how thick the beans grow I can walk under them when I want to pick beans.
Have you ever tried to find a small trellis that can go over a mere two feet of walkway? It was like finding a needle in a haystack. So I ended up making my own from plastic garden rods and they work really well. Thinking outside the box frequently works well. This time I just thought of beans as a vine flower like Clematis or Moonflower, not a vegetable.
I grow Asian Long Beans (Vigna unguiculata var. sesquipedalis) every year, the common green one. This bean has many names: Asparagus bean, Yardlong bean, but I prefer Asian Long Bean. It’s a very useful bean. You can cook it any which way you like or just eat it fresh. I snap it in small pieces and put it in salads or just snack on it right in the garden. It doesn’t have that greenish taste like string beans do. I also put them in curry as well as stir fry. The recipes will be coming along when I have enough time at home to jot them down along with home made dishes my family and relatives cook.
I have always liked to try something new so when I learned that there was a red version of the long bean I managed to obtain some seeds. This specific one (see below) is called “Red Noodle”. They grow pretty fast when the weather gets hot but produce a lot of leaves, no flowers. Our soil is too fertile, I guess. Between compost and chicken manure and the beans native ability to produce their own nitrogen, perhaps it’s too much of a good thing. So they just produced a lot of healthy looking leaves. I decided to give them my grandmother’s treatment….take the leaves off.
Yes, just alternately nip off some of their leaves. Her reason behind this? Just to trick the plants into feeling that they are dying so they will produce offspring as a survival mechanism. It works every time.
Two weeks after I nipped a few leaves off the Red Noodle plants, they started to flower and have continued to do so ever since. Now, we have more beans than we can eat. Our neighbor, Natalie, refused to take them just based on color. She took the green ones though claiming she had to get use to the color first. They are a lovely burgundy red.
I pick them when they’re only a foot long and tender. Anything longer than that doesn’t taste as good. I let a couple of them grow for seeds and they can grow longer than two feet. If you like beans, this is a good one to grow and you can substitute them for string beans in any dish. On the plus side, the flowers are really pretty. They are larger than string bean flowers and have a lavender color. Georgia O’Keefe would have painted this flower.