Saturday, February 27, 2010

That Marvelous Green Bean or Snap Bean

Green beans, string beans or snap beans whatever you wish to call them are my favorite vegetable. On the farm in North Carolina, the rows ran from the clothesline by the house to the hedgerow by the Church. Being the oldest girl I was expected to learn to “put away” or “can” every vegetable that we grew. Spring into summer and early fall before frost were times of plenty where vegetables were concerned. My Mother taught me to freeze and can all types of vegetables and fruit for the winter months. It was not an easy job. If one little bit of oil grease or other contaminant got into the mason jar the food would spoil and the lid would pop off. I never liked my green beans canned. I think I took exception to adding the citric acid that preserved them. During the winter months we ate all canned or frozen foods.

I constructed the trellis at left from fencing left over from my above ground pool that took the place of the gigantic garden that my father and I worked while he was able. Yes, my yard is that big. My Nephew says I have three backyards. Now that the pool is there I grow vegetables many unusual small spaces. I mix them in with the flowers and use every piece of spare space there is.
Green beans are very valuable in all gardens. The nodules that grow on the roots add beneficial bacteria to the soil. This good bacteria grabs onto nitrogen in the air and leaves it in the soil. Most plants thrive on nitrogen, there are many plants that love being planted with or near beans. My Mom used to plant pole beans in the corn field after the corn was well established. The corn provided a trellis that the beans ran on and the beans provided nitrogen for the corn.

Soil Preparation: I work in some cured manure, peat moss, and a small amount of phosphorus before planting the seeds. My Dad used to make a fist and shove it into the soil until his arm was submerged up to the elbow. He would smile and say that was good. Sometimes I add a little bone meal or dried blood. This makes for very strong leaves that are very resistant to beetles. Don’t over use, because the plant will put more energy into making beautiful leaves than fruit.
Bush Beans: When planting in containers, read the package carefully to prevent over fertilizing and burning of the small plants. Green beans germinate quickly so buying seedlings is not necessary. Read the package and make sure that you have allowed enough time before frost. The number of days to harvest is always included on the package. Bush beans come in a 30-35 day variety. I usually plant them in succession so they are not producing at the same time.

Pole beans usually take longer to produce than bush beans so they are planted first. Pole beans take much longer, but take up less space, because they grow up. Pole beans may be planted on the patio and staked much like tomatoes. Simply train the runners to go where you want them. All green beans are best harvested when they are young and tender. They should snap when broken. (that is how they got the name snap beans) Picking often tells the plant to produce more, more. Sow or plant in late spring as soon as the soil and weather are thoroughly warm and danger of hard frost has passed. Green beans don’t like having the roots disturbed so don’t cultivate deeply. Pull the weeds by hand and stir the soil on top. Keep the soil pulled up around the legs or stalks otherwise they will fall over. Apply Mulch around the plants to maintain moisture in hot weather. Avoid picking the beans in the morning when the leaves are wet. This spreads disease from one leaf to another. Pole and Bush beans require full sun in order to produce lush crops. My pole bean of choice is the Kentucky Wonder.

Bush beans will actually grow in window boxes on the patio. Again read the package carefully for the height and space requirement. Plant more seeds in the container than you will allow to mature. When the seedlings have at least four leaves or is about two to three inches tall, thin them out.

Bush types• Burpee's Stringless Green Pod, 50 days (green, heirloom)
• Contender, 50 days (green)
• Rocdor, 53 days (yellow)
• Cherokee Wax, 55 days (yellow), 1948 AAS winner
• Golden Wax/Improved Golden Wax/Pencil Pod Black Wax/Top Notch, 55 days
(yellow, heirloom)
• Red Swan, 55 days (red)
• Blue Lake 274, 58 days (green)
• Maxibel, 59 days (green fillet)
• Roma II, 59 days (green romano)
• Improved Commodore/Bush Kentucky Wonder, 60 days (green), 1945 AAS winner
• Dragon's Tongue, 60 days (streaked)
Pole types• Marvel of Venice, 54 days (yellow romano)
• Blue Lake, 60 days (green)
• Fortex, 60 days (green fillet)
• Kentucky Blue, 63 days (green), 1991 AAS winner
• Old Homestead/Kentucky Wonder, 65 days (green, heirloom)
• Rattlesnake, 73 days (streaked, heirloom)
• Purple King, 75 days (purple)

This wall of Pole Beans performs a dual function as it blocks the neighbors view of my private back yard bistro dining area.

Health Benefits - Green beans are an excellent source of vitamin A and B. They are also a good source of B1 and vitamin C. They are a good source of calcium and iron.
Per 3.5oz raw green beans contain 7.1 grams of carbohydrates, 3.6 grams of dietary fiber,0.1 grams of fat, 1.8 grams of protein,1 milligram of iron and 200 mg or potassium. They are delicious eaten raw, stir fried, smothered with white potatoes, baked in casseroles with almonds or sliced into french cut and sprinkled over salads.
Sprouting Seed Super Sampler- Organic- 2.5 Lbs of 10 Different Delicious Sprout Seeds: Alfalfa, Mung Bean, Broccoli, Green Lentil, Clover, Buckwheat, Radish, Bean Salad & More
Peas Sugar Snap Certified Organic Seeds 85 Seeds
Gourmet Green Bean 70 Seeds - GARDEN FRESH PACK!

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