Pole beans

P1060808The same small argument breaks out each year between cook and gardener. And the topic of contention? “Dwarf beans versus climbing beans”.

Why this should be so has much to do with the differing pace between kitchen and garden.

P1060805Up at the house, meals have to be pulled together in a matter of hours, whereas the gardener operates on a seasonal time scale that stretches on interminably through our long hot summers.

Dwarf beans mature more quickly than climbers but produce a once-only flush of pods that are soon eaten, leaving the garden bean-bare. Nevertheless, “plant the dwarf beans first!” cries the cook early each Spring, hungering for something fresh and green to delight our palates after the months of broccoli and brassicas in late Winter.

P1060803Sadly for us both, this specific dwarf-bean-planting conflicts with all the usual Spring chaos that runs on for four months as old winter crops come out and new summer crops go in. “There’s just not the room yet…” declaims the gardener.

Yet somehow that same gardener always finds time to plant out the climbing beans, knowing that they will bear longer and that he will not have to kneel down to pick them if sent back to the garden to gather in whatever the current recipe demands.

P1060799Is it any wonder then that the gardener receives so little sympathy from the cook when her chickens – in their never-ending search for edible greens - reach through the mesh bean fence and eat the developing beans shoots bare to half a metre off the ground?

So the gardener – never one for overt warfare – uses ingenuity to push beans up out of reach of those short-legged chickens. Netting protects them at ground level as they grow to the top of the mesh fence, then bamboo poles stuck vertically in that same fence allow the beans to grow up another metre, greatly increasing the productive capacity of the crop compared to those stumpy dwarfs with their large footprints.

P1060800Finally, as in every year, the cook’s mutterings die down as each new dish of tender beans is brought up to the house in autumn and the overflow is blanched and stored in the freezer for the lean bean times.

I’ve had two tranches of climbing beans this year, and a warm winter is forecast.

I wonder can I make that three before the frosts hit?


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