Beans, Beans and More Beans
Did you know that Beans rival Zucchini for abundant harvests? It's true~if you plant a row of Bush Beans or a Pole Bean tepee or two, expect to be picking Beans every day for weeks on end. You'll have plenty for family dinners and to freeze for winter, when the taste of a homegrown Bean can bring back the summer sun in a single bite. In fact, The sheer abundance of a Bean harvest is just one of the reasons they're one of America's most popular vegetables to grow, second only to the Tomato.
There's no need to start Beans under lights indoors. Sow them directly into the garden as soon as your last frost date has passed. A second planting in early July will give you a crop of fresh, tender pods in late summer, just as the season's best Tomatoes are coming on.
Easy Direct-Sow Bean Tips
Here are three important facts about growing Beans to assure terrific germination and the most abundant harvests.
1. Beans really hate the cold. Hold off pressing the magical seeds into your garden until there isn't even a whisper about night frost, when the soil is reliably warm.
2. Beans hate being wet. The seedlings and mature plants prefer to be watered from beneath, rather than getting their foliage wet. Rain is obviously okay, but if you need to augment Mother Nature if it becomes really dry, water lightly and only water the soil around the base of each plant. (Beans even prefer to be picked when they are dry: strange but true.)
3. Beans need constant and thorough picking once they bear fruit or they feel unloved and stop producing. Try to pluck them all off, as even one hidden Bean left alone on the vine can cause productivity to drop off.
Enjoy Beans in Oh-So-Many Ways
Beans are a snap to grow, are rarely troubled by pests or disease, and are super delicious plucked off the vine and enjoyed raw, cooked and savored hot or cold or blanched and frozen. They can be served whole, cut or Frenched; steamed with a simple dab of butter and a bit of sea salt; dressed with toasted almond slivers and a Carrot ribbon; or mixed into a plethora of hearty casseroles.
Try our Green Bean Salad with Tomatoes and Feta~a perfect pairing and almost a meal in itself. Blanch one pound of Green Beans in boiling water until crisp-tender. Plunge them into an ice water bath to put a screeching halt to the cooking process. Dry and chill. Combine two ripe Tomatoes cut into ½" cubes, a small minced Shallot, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1 tablespoons lemon juice, 2 tablespoons chopped Parsley and freshly cracked black pepper. Add the chilled Beans and toss. Sprinkle with ½ cup (or more) crumbled feta cheese. It is a lovely hot August night supper served with a crusty baguette and a glass of sparkling white wine.