Monday, 27 July 2009

runner beans, flowers, beauty

Today I want to share with you the magic and beauty of runner bean plants.

Remember Jack and the Beanstalk? He traded a cow for 5 beans, much to his mother's disgust. She tossed the beans on the ground, and next day there was this fantastic tree of a plant.

Well, I'm not claiming that for my beans. But, they start out as beans about an inch long. A beautiful pinky red, with black blotches - the Dalmation of the beans, I suppose you could say. After planting them a couple of inches deep in soil, they relatively quickly push their shoots through the soil, and soon grow into plants ready to plant out in the garden when the roots are pushing through the base of the pot.

Within a couple of weeks they'll be climbing up the support you've given them. I use a couple of arches. How clever is that, to be able to climb up a metal frame with nobody to show you how? OK, I know the science of it, but it's still pretty amazing to see.

Then there are the flowers. Boy, do they produce flowers. My arches are aflame - it's easy to see why they were brought into this country purely for their flowers - the edible beans were a bonus. The plants have climbed to the top of the arches, and are now reaching for the sky. I've had to stop them by breaking off the top shoot, they are so vigorous.
The magic is, each of those gorgeous flowers has the potential to be transformed into a runner bean with the aid of the visiting insects, or me with a tiny brush if there aren't any about!
Some of the beans are now a couple of inches long. Tiny miracles of nature. In just a short time from now, I'll be harvesting them. It's one of life's greatest pleasures to pick your own vegetables, then either eat them raw, or cook them gently and eat them really fresh. They don't need much to accompany them, the flavour speaks for itself. Yummy.

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