Thursday, August 14, 2008

Beans, beans, the American fruit...

Whenever I think or say the word "beans" I think of this little rhyme and am reminded of my grandpa. He used to recite this rhyme (at the dinner table no less!) when we were little:
Beans, beans, the American fruit
The more you eat, the more you toot
The more you toot, the better you feel
So eat some beans at every meal!
I'm sure my grandma shook her head and glared at him, but it made he and us kids laugh. I don't know where this rhyme came from (and there are many versions), but I'm pretty sure it's not actually talking about green beans.

But that's what I'm talking about. Green beans. And peas. And lima beans. Or (in all categories), lack thereof.

Our sweet peas pretty much stopped producing and dried up. I just removed the dead stalks yesterday and piled them in the compost bin. I thought they would have produced more, but perhaps they didn't like their environment.

Our half-dozen lima bean plants that survived have actually produced lima beans! In the end we'll probably end up with a half dozen or dozen actual lima bean pods. I'm sure that will make a tasty side dish for one meal.

Our rattlesnake beans have been producing the most enormous, colorful beans ever. But for some reason, the whole crop is now dropping all its leaves and any beans left growing on the vine are dying.

Our scarlet runner beans and blue lake pole beans are growing up over the garage roof! Or at least trying. They are huge and seem to be doing well, except for the problem that they haven't produced a single bean yet. The scarlet runners have managed to push out a few blooms now and then (though they're at least 8 or 10 feet up there!) and I noticed the first blooms on the blue lakes just today. I just don't know if we're going to get any beans off of these before fall and winter set in.

It's kind of sad and disappointing, but we're not too worried. We just keep saying: it's an experiment. We did a soil test, but we still weren't really sure how the soil was, what the conditions would be, if the plants that needed it would get enough sun, etc. We're making plans for next year's crop already.

It might include bush beans because those have been doing pretty well - the half of the crop that came up anyway. We've had several meals with sides of fresh picked, steamed green beans or marinated, barbecued green beans and they are quite tasty.


Anna Dunford said...

Hey Aimee, even if they haven't produced much in the way of beans your soil will have benefited from having them growing there, nitrogen fixing and all that jazz... just remember to rotate your crops and you'll get the benefit of those plants next year instead! =)
Right, I'm off to slice up oodles of citrus from our garden for marmalade now!
A xxx

Aimee said...

You are so right. I hope the soil will be better next year and I hope we eventually find something to grow in that slim spot that is just perfect. We were thinking loads of rhubarb, but we'd have to tie it back to keep it out of the path there. =)

How exciting that you can grow citrus in your garden! Ah, New Zealand. =)

Mom said...

Aimee - the beans may not be setting because of too much fertilizer. sometimes when you have too much it makes for lots of growth and lots of leaves, but few blossoms. Remember '92 when it flooded and we had all the chicken manure that floated over from safeway and I put it on the nasturtiums? the leaves were like dinner plates but few blossoms - same thing. Leaf drop and few blossoms are most likely caused by aphids. they love beans. I just lost my clematis to them. I tried to spray but it just needed something more systemic then dish soap spray and I didn't want to get that aggressive because of the peppermint underneat. check the undersides of leaves - aphids are tiny, tiny - you should see some little white specks under the leaves if you have aphids - they suck the mositure out which causes leaf drop and they love the blossoms. when I cut back the clematis, i found that I would have had some bunches of grapes this year, but they were all dried up from the aphids. So, I will have to aggressively spray to kill them before they go into hybernation. Once you get aphids, you have them till you get rid of them. if you want to go organic, you can try a pepper spray. Or soap. but you have to spray all the time - several times a week, and I just don't have the time for that. Some plants are more resistant to them. You might want to ask a local organic farmer what they use.