Thursday, July 2, 2009

Admiring the Beans

My favorite plants in my raised bed right now are my bean plants. It's partly because they are all healthy right now, no mysterious holes or pests, and growing fast. But bean plants are more interesting than, say, lettuce, which just gets bigger and bigger and then bolts. Bean twist and twine, they flower briefly and then suddenly where there used to be a flower, there's a bean. The bean grows longer and fatter and then it's ready to eat.
I have Romano beans, my favorite kind of green bean to eat, which I planted from starts in late April. They have taken their time to get established and have only grown about 18" high, but they made yellow flowers a few weeks ago and now beans are forming, some already 3" long. On hot days the Romano bean plants rotate their leaves so the top surface is perpendicular to the ground and only the thin edge of the leaf is facing the sky. I knew sunflowers turned their heads to watch the sun, but I never knew beans could rotate their leaves like that.
The photo above is the Emerite beans, a variety of French haricots verts, those thin green beans they sell for an outrageous amount at Tower Market. These are pole beans, and you can see them twining in the photo. I had to keep tying them onto the tomato cage that I'm using for their support, and it took a week or so for them to finally start twining. There are a few lovely lavender blossoms on them now. They are supposed to grow up to 8' high. I have an arch of PVC pipe for them to twine onto once they reach the top of the tomato cage.
The last start I planted just ten days ago are Tongues of Fire beans. These are shelling beans kind of like cranberry beans, with red speckled pods and a reddish bean (I think). You use them in soups or salads, cooked fresh. I can't tell if they are going to twine or not.

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