My garden abounds with bush green beans. Before this year, I considered green beans are edible, even enjoyable, but not spectacular. However, my hubby adores the stringy, verdant veggie almost as much as the New England Patriots. (Okay, I’m exaggerating for effect, but he does prefer them to most other vegetables.)
Perhaps he learned to love green beans as a tyke while harvesting buckets of bush beans from his family’s garden, but I suspect that his passion for green beans originated in high school. When he was a junior, a gaggle of middle school girls nicknamed him “green bean,” because he was slender, tall and occasionally wore a pair of very green jeans. Flirting, they blushed and giggled every time they spotted him in the hallways.
My recollection of the green bean is not as fond. As a child, my mother bought bags of frozen beans in the winter when fresh produce was too expensive, and although an excellent cook, her reheated beans failed to impress me. Once years later, my mother grew yard-long beans. The 3-foot vegetables extended from the top of the pole they climbed to the ground and produced a bountiful harvest. They were novel and not unpleasant, but far less interesting than the blushing tomatoes or crunchy cucumbers.
College (almost) permanently tarnished my opinion of the green bean. Hair-netted women shoveled limp, bland beans from puddles of oil and water onto my plastic plate. Dutifully, rapidly, I ate them. Then I made a beeline for the chocolate ice cream across the cafeteria.
With this history, could you blame me for only planting a few green bean plants last year? Those plants barely survived the summer drought and my neglect. (Giving birth interrupted my watering schedule.) Sulkily, they produced a few handfuls of beans, but enough to toss in a stir fry but not enough to eat alone.
However, I love my husband and he loves green beans. This year, I planted square foot upon square foot of bush beans. I estimate that I planted over 200 bean plants in my garden. I have been harvesting and freezing armfuls of these stringy vegetables.
Last week, I boiled the beans for 4 minutes, doused them in a ice water bath and then dressed them with a little olive oil and red wine vinegar. Tomatoes, basil and feta cheese rounded out my bean salad. These were not the beans of my youth, and thankfully nothing like the beans of my college days. They were wonderful! The salad tasted crisp, cool, fresh, and sweet.
Thank goodness I have kindled a passion for these veggies, because we’ll be eating lots of them!
- Pole beans require less ground space than bush beans, but also require (surprise!) a pole or some other climbing device. Pole beans will produce fruit throughout the season. Bush beans are bred to produce a few large harvests.
- Plant beans two weeks after the no-frost date. They don’t like cold weather. (Not sure when you are frost free? Check here.)
- Some people recommend planting 10 bush bean plants for every person in your family. Unless you’re crazy like me.
- Beans are good neighbors to tomatoes and peppers.
- Sprinkling a little legume inoculant helps bean, peas and other legumes. The inoculant contains beneficial bacteria that attach to the plant’s roots and allow the plant to capture nitrogen from the air. This process increases the amount of nitrogen in the soil, making it available for other plants as well.
- To freeze, cut off both ends of the bean, place in boiling water for 3-4 minutes and then chill in an ice-water bath. (An ice-water bath sounds so refreshing on a muggy night like this.)