Friday, August 16, 2013

Hide and Seek Green Beans!

So let me just tell you about my experience with green beans. Growing up in my family of seven, five children. My industrious father would plan eight forty foot long rows of bush beans. Each child was supposed to pick a row of green beans. As a fourteen year old let me tell you how I bulked at this idea. The bush beans were low to the ground, I had to get down on my hands and knees in the grass clippings we used as mulch and comb through the scratchy bushes. They made my arms itch and the yellow bean bugs were everywhere and they would get smashed on my fingers and hands, and the sun was blazing hot. I hated it.
Then the agony was not over. We got about six to seven pounds of green beans at one time every third day. My mother told me sometimes it would be nine pounds! So what do you think we had to do after that? Snap them and freeze them. My mother would man the processing, and the rest of us went to work. It was a long task that made your shoulders ache and your fingers hurt. I remember piles of beans on my mothers antique oak dining table and piles of the snappings, the humidity in the air from the boiling pot in the kitchen, and the sounds of the rolling water. We had a double sink in the kitchen that my mother filled with ice cold water and she would lift the batch out of the boiling pot and dump them in the first sink of cold water and then put some more beans in the pot. Then we moved the first batch to the second sink to cool even more. It was a big process and I think the memory of it is what scared me to ever try it on my own.
Well as an adult, I started buying frozen green beans in the grocery store. Let me tell you, they just don't taste the same. It was really depressing. So I decided I must plant my own green beans.
Fast forward to now, nineteen years later. I had in my seed packets a bag of pole beans that were a couple years old. I was going to use them up just to be rid of them. In prior years my green bean crop had been literally only about a hand full of green beans, because I knew from experience, in order to get enough to freeze, it takes a lot of work, work which I was not quite ready for. So I prepped my garden this spring. The north side of the bed was 10 feet long. I planted a row with the beans about every three inches apart. And I still had beans left in my bag, so I started another row only about four inches away and spaced the beans the same. I did this for a total of four rows. I put up one trellis across the whole back of the garden that was only five feet tall.
I watched as my four rows sprouted. I watched as they started to climb the trellis. Every sprout twining around the netting. The four rows massed together to make an impressive wall of beans. Never did I think this would be so successful. My green beans are now coming in. Every third day I go out and pick a pound of green beans. As I comb through the scratchy leaves and hear the mosquitoes buzzing in my ears, I think that I am on a hide and seek hunt. Every bean is hidden so perfectly and you have to part the leaves aside to find them. Just when you think you are done then you find another bean and another. I am so amazed, so excited. A pound of green beans frozen makes about one quart size baggie.
So every couple days I can blanch the single pound and freeze them and guess what? It is not so intimidating doing a small batch. It wouldn't be enough to feed us a whole year such as my parents crop did, but it is very empowering all the same.
I just did a batch this morning and picked another one. The memories of picking green beans will live on. How I am thankful of the toiling my father gifted us with when I was young. I might not ever had attempted such a thing on my own if I had not experienced and known of the blessing of tasting your own.
In the center is a pound of green beans!