Monday, January 18, 2010

Beans (Runner and French)

Beans are our absolutely favourite vegetable and we try and make room in the garden to grow as many as we can. Apart from having generous portions with almost every meal during the growing season, we also freeze them for use during the winter months.

We grow two varieties, one of which is Scarlet Emperor, the most vigorous of all the runner beans and it never fails to produce huge super crops regardless of weather conditions, although we do use the hose pipe during very dry spells.

I start these off in the greenhouse and plant twice as many as I am likely to need. The reason being that as soon as I put them outside I guarantee the slugs will come along to claim their share. I replace each one as soon as the (now very fat) slugs have finished their tasty meal but always end up with plenty of healthy plants for our own use so I am not complaining, well not too much anyway.

This variety does have "strings" but I have discovered an absolutely fantastic gadget which not only removes the strings but also slices the beans beautifully. This is a "KRISK, French style bean slicer", very inexpensive and really easy to use.

Even Peter, my husband, although not exactly kitchen orientated, needs very little persuasion to sit preparing beans for the freezer.

Each year I also like to try a different type of climbing runner bean simply because there are now so many to choose from and I love experimenting. I have had moderate success with the purple and yellow varieties and will certainly be trying those again next season.

The gorgeous little french beans I plant directly into the garden and, by waiting until the ground has warmed up a little, we had a good crop this year in just about eight weeks from planting. Every couple of weeks I push a few more beans into any available space, or even a container, therefore ensuring a continuous supply.

We always grow far too much of everything for our own use but get enormous pleasure from "showing-off" and sharing out the surplus with friends and family.

To digress, it really is amazing to have reached December and the geraniums are still in bloom. I am sure all the clever scientists would attribute this to global warming but I just think how very lucky we are that the hard frosts are late in arriving this year.

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