The goodie bag I was handed at the February seed exchange had a packet of seeds for green beans, "Contender." String beans are not my favorite vegetable (yes, I love broccoli) but I can eat them. Because of this, the limited space in the vegetable plot is usually reserved for only most-favored status.
I planted all the seeds (about two dozen) and fertilized with hope, but not with expectation. If I got a harvest, I needed to dig out the bean salad and almandine recipes I never made. If not, the plants could party in the annual compost pile with the radishes. But at least the legumes could fix some nitrogen to the soil, right?
The Contender bush beans sprouted first as food for the night stalkers. After a little treatment with Sluggo and diatomaceous earth, they were off to the races.
Some very hot days and some nice cool days passed and I quickly got my first harvest. Some of the beans were curled into C-shapes. I asked a farmer at a local farmer's market how he grows nice straight beans while my beans were naturally curly. I was told that some varieties do that better than others, and that dry spells between watering can also contribute to this. He grew a variety called 'Valentino' and found "Contender" not to his liking. My green beauties eventually ended up in a 5-bean salad with some of the farmer's yellow beans. (After cornering the market on every type of canned beans in the grocery store, I saw the fine print on the recipe that it could be a 4-bean salad, or 3-bean salad...next time.)
Recently I harvested some red romaine after arriving home from work one sunny 90 degree (32° C) afternoon. It was beginning to grow a stalk, and begging to be eaten. Thank goodness it was not bitter for leaving it in the heat, so for companionship, I gave it some red cherry tomatoes (Sweet 100) and a red 'nonion' (marble-sized onion) all from the garden. Other store produce was incorporated too. The resulting salad was intensely relished. The rest of the red romaine will be picked today after yesterday's 104 degree record (40° C).
Since this is a garden blog, I usually don't photograph food, but maybe once in a while I can show the final outcome of the garden goodies.
For The Record:
Good garden soil with good drainage
Full sun, 90% of day
Small amount of organic fertilizer
Munching insects in early season
Blooming: pink cosmos, mexican zinnia, zinnia, rudbeckia, monarda, hosta, loosestrife, cardoon, daisy, echinops,
platydcodon, cleome, echinacea, daylily
Harvested: lettuce, cherry tomatoes, green beans, 1 red onion