Friday, October 10, 2014

Last of the Summer Beans

French and Italian bean beds in August
I’m only slightly late with this post, especially since now that the evenings are cooler, I’m looking at a yellowed bunch of bean plants. But since I see that beans are still on offer in the farmers’ markets (though not for much longer unless I miss my guess), I thought I’d send out a bean homage along with a nod to the departing tender annual herbs.

I had gotten enough from the first planting of French beans in early summer to freeze a bunch using my husband’s vacuum packer, which I’ve only this year made friends with. It does a fabulous job of keeping them frost-free in the freezer. (Gary, who is intimately acquainted with the machine vacuum-packed bunches of them for me last year, which is how I know). Usually, I neglect to seed anything in the garden for late summer and fall. The weather’s often so miserable in mid-summer, and I’m so fed up and tired of the whole enterprise, that I tend to ignore the window of opportunity for planting late summer and fall produce. But this year, it was so nice I actually stuck some more things in the ground.

On the last day in July I gently prepped a couple of short beds that had held hard neck garlic, which was planted last fall and which I had harvested in the beginning of July. Once they were prepped (I stuff a fork in and loosened the ground a little and pulled out whatever weeds were there) I poked in the rest of the packet of French green beans, some 3-year-old Italian bean seeds and about 40 calypso beans. I even managed to cover the row. (I was so proud of myself for having been THAT organized) So the birds wouldn't plucked the seeds back out and, once they germinated the rabbits wouldn't chomp off the little seed leaves . (The ingrates! We’re surrounded by other culinary options for them, but NO! It has to be my garden!) 

Fling ingredients into a skillet, sauté and you've got lunch!
We didn’t have any rain to speak of in August, so once a week I splooshed a 5-gallon bucket of water drawn from the rain barrels over each bed. Because they were drinking in rain water, and because the ground was warm, (and I’m convinced because I love them and chatted encouragingly to them whenever I came past), they came up much faster than in spring. I was picking beans by the gallon by the second week in September –about 45 days from seeding instead of the predicted 55 days.


The tomatoes, which this year had been a whole lot less than stellar, were nonetheless still producing, as were the tender herbs.  As a result, I had several lunches and suppers of green beans sautéed with chopped onion, tomatoes, Cuban basil, a small-leafed spicy basil that roots in water readily, garlic and prosciutto. Fling it all into a skillet with a little olive oil, stir it around a bit, and Bob’s your uncle (or in regular parlance, you have a meal!).

Next thing I’m waiting for, aside from the blankety-blank rabbits to stop munching down my fall peas and pak choi, is the calypso beans, which should be dry enough to shell out in another 3-4 weeks. We store them in a lidded mason jar in the pantry. They’re great steeped in some beef bullion and garlic, then turned into a salad with smoked olive oil, sweet onions and chives or basil – or whatever other herb suits your fancy and comes readily to hand.  
 
All done. Great for supper with a glad of red vino.

After that, we’ll fall back (yes, go ahead and groan) on the larder, feeling incredibly virtuous and making plans for next year’s garden, God willing and the creek don’t rise.

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