Last May, I planted some beans in a pot–another big gardening adventure for me. I’ve already admitted my fear of vegetable growing in a previous posting so I hope you’ll understand that, after the exhilaration of throwing all caution to the wind and planting lettuce, I felt downright at one with nature and the universe planting those beans. Helping this delusion along was the fact that the beans I planted looked just like, well, beans. So many plant seeds don’t offer the vaguest hint as to what they’re going to grow into. But a bean? It turns out that if you plant a bean, eventually you get some more beans. Life usually isn’t that simple so this unfolding–so blatantly straightforward–strikes me as bloody marvellous.
Beans have been grown by various people, in various parts of North America, for the past 7,000 years. Now I understand why. With no more than one pot, a bag of soil and a packet of beans (chosen from the seed display at Canadian Tire, no less), I’m now having to haul a ladder out every evening to harvest my beautiful green beans. By mid-summer, they’d outgrown the five-foot tall steeple trellis that I’d placed in the pot. So the towering beanstalk-filled pot was pushed to the edge of the patio within reach of a 10-foot tall smokebush. The beanstalks have been twining into its branches ever since.
Cornell University insists that pole beans (the kind that climb, like mine) yield two to three times more produce than bush beans from the same space. (Considering pole beans grow up rather than out, sprouting cartoon-heart leaves as they grow, they certainly make a fun feature for a small urban garden or patio). They also claim that they’re easier to harvest and better tasting than bush beans. I wouldn’t know about the latter, this being my first year as a bean grower. But my bet is that any fruit or vegetable you’ve grown yourself is going to taste pretty amazing, if only because you had a small hand in its miracle.