Seedtime & Harvest Newsletter This week’s produce is bright, beautiful and delicious!
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Written for the May 15, 2014 newsletterBeans?Yes. Beans.Local farmers are planting their soybeans. Uncle would say, “It’s time to plant beans … The barn swallows are back!”
I love barn swallows. Because of barn swallows, our old barn is still standing. I haven’t decided what to build to replace the old barn. The new structure must a) welcome the barn swallows, b) be depreciate-able in less than 49 years, c) be used to dry onions and garlic and cure winter squash, d) be stronger than a greenhouse to withstand wind storms. e) store empty pots and trays, f) provide UV protection for farming equipment, g) be relatively inexpensive to build.
I digress. Back to the bean subject. (As soon as the sun shines, I will be planting our green beans.)
A woman whose husband suffers with Parkinson’s called several weeks ago asking about organic vegetables, organic tomato plants, and in the course of our conversation, asked if she could plant her green beans.
“I always wait until the farmers plant their soy beans. Corn can go in really early as the seeds are coated, treated against rotting with fungicides and against bugs and bacteria with pesticides. Treated corn seed can lie in the cold, wet ground a long time and not rot or be eaten. Untreated corn seed cannot be planted until the soil warms. Soy and green bean seed also rots in cold, wet soil.”
I digress. Again.
The grocery chain, Fareway, celebrated 75 years in 2013 and ran features at 75 cents. I’m assuming Fareway is 76 years old this year as they have 76 cent features.
I bought a few Braeburn apples at 76 cents per pound. (After taking a bite. Yes, I rubbed an apple on my jeans and took a small bite. Most apples nowadays taste yukky and even though cheap at 76 cents a pound, I wanted assurance that we would eat them rather than cluttering up the frig, planning on making apple sauce, and ending up feeding them to the
Henry found the green beans. “These look nice,” he said, and then laid them back and pushed the cart deeper into the store.
I followed, found the green beans, picked up a bag, rolled it over in my hands, and eventually put a bag in our cart, remarking, “They look really fibrous but at 76 cents a pound, we can try them.”
Sunday afternoon, Laura joined me in the kitchen. While I cleaned, cut, peeled, and cubed a Queensland Blue winter squash grown in 2013 and stored over winter, Laura set the table, filled the water glasses, etc. Then I offered, “Laura, would you clean the green beans?”
About half way through the bag of beans, Laura asked, “Shall I clean them all?”
“Alissa and Nathan are not here tonight, but …. I think we can eat them all. It’s about two pounds. Cost me $1.38. Imagine! Green beans at 76 cents a pound. Seedtime charges $4.50 a pound. So that bag would be about $9.00 at Seedtime!
“I have no idea how they can plant, weed, fertilize, and grow green beans for 76 cents a pound. I’m sure they have mechanical equipment but still ….”
Laura then commented on having had a spinach salad at Original Pancake House during the week. “Hard boiled eggs, bacon, it was good. Will you have baby spinach leaves like those in that salad?”
“Our spinach is ready this week but it’s bigger than baby leaves. I’m not sure how they grow and harvest such consistently small leaves. They must drill seed really close together and then have a cutting machine that cuts the spinach in the field, kind of like we grow Micro Herbs and Greens in trays.”
We decided to steam the green beans as the oven was already full with trays of roasting squash and the first asparagus from the field.
“A dollop of butter on the beans?” asked Laura as she bowled the steaming beans.
The green bean bowl started by Derek. His love of vegetables is limited to beans, carrots, cucumbers and a few others. As the bowl went around the table, we had the same conversation, “How can they grow green beans for 76 cents a pound?”
I popped a green bean in my mouth. STRING?
“Excuse me!” Embarrassed, I removed the bean from my mouth and proceeded to string the bean, from both sides. Henry took a bite and pushed the rest of the beans to the side of his plate. Derek cut them up with his knife and fork, ate a few beans mixed with potato, gravy and cucumber, leaving the rest.
Strings? Really? My grandmother grew String beans and yes, she had to string both sides of the bean pod just like we still must string Sugar Snap peas. But my mother already grew Snap beans. Mother hated String beans, “They are SO time consuming! And I hate getting a string in my mouth.”
Through the years, the strings were bred out of green beans and the seed companies differentiated the difference by classifying greens beans as String beans or Snap beans. Wives and mothers stringed String beans and snapped Snap beans. Today, we simply call them Green beans. (And this house wife only removes the stem end, leaving the beans whole. No stringing. No snapping.) Such strides in breeding! And all done the old-fashioned way. No genetic modification. No blasting of genes. Even today, most green beans are open-pollinated, not hybrid. In fact, Johnny’s Seeds has Bush beans, Pole beans, Fresh Shell beans, Dry beans, Fava beans, Lima beans, and Soy beans. Not one variety is a hybrid. We can save bean seed from our gardens and these seeds will grow the same bean next year.
But String beans? I haven’t seen String beans offered in any seed catalog that I subscribe to.
But I ate those String beans. With my fingers, stringing each bean as I went. (But then, I eat Seedtime’s beans with my fingers, too. Such a delicacy. So delicious.) These String beans tasted sweet, like maybe they had been laced with sugar. Usually high fiber beans are not sweet. There was no authentic bean flavor.
After supper, Debbie handed Baby Leah to Grandma along with a bottle. The girls cleaned up.
“Do you want to save the green beans?” they asked.
Henry piped up from the living room, “I’m not going to eat them again!”
“Sure,” I answered. “Maybe Alissa and I will have the left-overs for lunch. After all I did pay 76 cents a pound!”
Digression # 3: The Queensland Blue squash was delicious and the asparagus …Oooh la la!
Till Saturday ….
PS. Please continue to pray for rain.