While the garden is an untamed weed-infested wreckage at the moment—and will remain so until the combination of torrential rain and brutal heat moves off, and I can get a little mulch in to tame some of the worst excesses—this crazy wet weather has produced an incredible crop of beans.
The two top performers are Rattlesnake Pole and Good Mother Stallard. I have no idea how they’d do in a NORMAL year (i.e. punishing heat, no rain after June) but they’ve gone crazy this year, which is good because nothing else is growing for shit. My tomato crop is staggering along, except for some relentlessly cheerful grape tomatoes, and while the tomatillos are producing (it is a sad, sad state of affairs when a tomatillo does not fruit) they aren’t very happy about it. Pretty much everything else just died outright.
But the beans…the beans are happy. These are all going to be soup beans, so a few times a day, I wander out into the garden, pick and handful or two, come inside and shell them. Takes about the same amount of time as making a good cup of tea. I have several plates padded with paper towels spread over various kitchen surfaces, and every now and again I turn the beans so they dry evenly. (Probably there’s a better method that involves equipment or something—I have no real idea what I’m doing—but this seems to work.) When they’re completely dry, I toss them in a bag or a jar and store them in the cupboard.
I am embarrassingly proud of these beans. It’s the same warm glow I feel when we make basil oil—”Look at that! We did that! That was us! We made a useful thing!” This is even less justified than the basil oil, because the bean plants seriously did all the work, I just popped them out of their respective pods. Still, I am dreadfully proud of these. More so than most paintings I’ve done—Look! I made food, guys! Look at it! It’s pretty! And we don’t have to eat them all right now until we’re sick to death of the sight of it, we can store them and have soup and chili and beans with garlic whenever we want! Isn’t that awesome?
This is a lot of thrill to derive from approximately half a pound of dried legumes. Believe me, I didn’t become a gardener because I have a good sense of proportion.
They talk a lot about the woes of being estranged from one’s food supply—and frankly, I’m just as glad not to live with mine, because it’s a high maintenance beast—but the occasional flings are pretty awesome nonetheless.