More beans than you can shake a stick at

Over the past few weeks, warmish temperatures and a steady dose of rain have helped our beans — bush beans, pole beans, and string beans — proliferate like mad! The beans have been growing far faster than we could ever eat them, and this past weekend, we found ourselves with a definite surplus.

This was our most recent harvest – a nice selection of purple and wax string beans, along with hearty Rattlesnake pole beans (the large green ones with the red streaks). Oh, and also a couple cherry tomatoes for good measure. ๐Ÿ™‚

We also made our first harvest of shelling beans!

A couple varieties, still in their pods.

These turned out to be Tiger Eye beans (a bush variety) and Fort Portal Jade (a pole variety).

On the left are the extremely pretty and green Fort Portal beans – dried at top and raw at the bottom. On the right are the Tiger Eyes – raw ones at the top and dried ones, with their distinct maroon markings on gold, at the bottom. The ones in the middle are also Tiger Eyes, but they turned out all maroon for whatever reason.

While there are more Fort Portal beans to come, it looks like the Tiger Eye plants have had their say. As with beans, they might be done, or they might re-blossom later in the summer.

But, back to the busload of string beans. A much as we’ve been enjoying them simply steamed with dinner, we decided to do something a little different this past weekend, and make them into a light and delicious salad. We regularly make a Three-Bean Salad, but we wanted something a little different, so we turned to our trust Betty Crocker recipe book and found a little inspiration in the form of a “Tangy Vegetable Salad.” But we didn’t have everything on hand for that particular recipe, so we improvised. Here’s our version, which we’ll call “Simple Vegetable Salad (That’s Mostly String Beans).”


Simple Vegetable Salad (That’s Mostly String Beans)

Ingredients
  • 2-3 cups of coarsely chopped fresh string beans
  • approximately 1/2 cup (or so) each of chopped onion, carrots, peppers, and squash (we used a red pepper and summer squash, but any varieties could work)
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
Instructions

1. Gather all vegetables together; gather together ingredients for dressing.

Veggies, check.
Dressing ingredients, check.

2. Boil a little water (about 1/2 cup or so) in a large saucepan, and dump in the vegetables. Cook in boiling water for five minutes.

So pretty. It’s a little sad that the purple beans have to turn green when cooked.

3. After five minutes, drain the vegetable and rinse with cool water. Set aside.

See…no purple. Still delicious, though.

4. Place dressing ingredients into a small screw-top jar and shake vigorously to combine.

More shaking needed…

5. Place drained vegetables in a large bowl and pour over dressing. Stir gently, cover bowl, then place bowl in the fridge to chill for at least 4 hours before serving.

Delish!

5. While salad is chilling, stir occasionally until ready to serve. When serving, use a slotted spoon.


This is an excellent summer salad – light, filling, and refreshing. And it’s super quick to make! (Who wants to turn on the oven in 100 degree heat, anyway?!) One thing to note is that you could also used white wine or red wine vinegar for the dressing. And really, you could use just about any combination of vegetables. The original recipe called for cauliflower and the addition of sliced olives at the end. But our results turned out to be simply delicious. And that’s what’s important. ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

 

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The last of what we have to say about beans and squash

If you’re just joining us, welcome to our blog about beans and squash! Haha, okay…we’re joking. But seriously, if anyone looks at our posts from the past year, one might think that’s about all we grow. It’s not, but beans and squash are about the only things that truly proliferated in our garden this year. So it seems fitting that, as we approach the end of the season, we should at least pay one final tribute to the beans and squash that are going to keep our bellies full this winter.

But before we get to that, we have to point out a statement we made in last week’s post in which we discussed the year’s first frost. (Things didn’t actually frost over, but we came very close.) In that post we said the following:

So it seems our hopes for a warm October probably wonโ€™t happen.

Well, it seems Mother Nature just might have taken pity on our poor, poor garden, for it looks like we’ve ventured into an Indian Summer! Yep, the past couple days have been unseasonably warm with daytime temps reaching into the 80s. And it looks like the trend is going to continue until the weekend. (Good thing we haven’t yet made the switch over to winter clothes!) So the roller-coaster of a year in weather just keeps going and going. Now, five days of warm weather isn’t suddenly going to make all our tomatoes ripen, but it might do something good. We’ll do another (and final) roundup of pictures next week, so we’ll see what happens.

Meanwhile, back inside, we’ve been slowing watching our collections of Long Pie Pumpkins turn from green to bright orange.

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Sorry that the picture is a little dark. In the light, these guys nearly match our kitchen’s orange walls! The one at the top has ripened the most, so it’s very possible it’ll become a Thanksgiving (or sooner!) pie. You might be wondering about that green squash in the upper corner. Well, we are too! With an unintentionally large crop of traditional zucchini this year, we’ve been paying close attention to the zucchini versus the Long Pies, which look remarkably similar. The way to tell the two apart is that the Long Pies, on the vine, develop a bright orange spot on their undersides. At that point you pick them and let them ripen indoors. When we picked this dark green squash just a week ago, we were pretty sure it was a zucchini. It did have a slightly unripened, yellowish spot on it’s underside, but it wasn’t bright orange. Well, over the past week, that yellow spot has turned more orange than not. If this is a zucchini, the yellow spot should have begun to turn a little green by now (with the whole squash going completely dark green in a couple weeks). As we already mistook one zucchini for a Long Pie earlier in the year, we don’t want to make the same mistake twice. So for now, we’re just keep an eye on it.

As for beans, well, the pole beans haven’t been showing any signs of stopping in the cooler weather. We came away with this haul over the weekend.

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That’s a variety of pole beans on the left and Christmas Lima Bean pods on the right. After shelling everything, we have yet another pan of drying beans.

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The lima bean pods always look more promising than they are, as each podย  generally only holds one to two beans. As for the pole beans, we didn’t get nearly as many as we first thought because some of the pods/beans had gone moldy. Makes sense considering how cool and damp its been until this week. We’ll be doing another bean harvest over the weekend, so we’ll see how things fare after the warm week.

So our bean collection this year is looking pretty good.

035beans3

We’ve got a nice big bag of sorted beans, and more that need to be sorted. We’ll be transferring these into canning jars soon so that we can easily store them into the winter. No doubt, we’ll be enjoying some multi-bean soup in the coming months! (And, of course, we’ve set aside a good complement of seed beans to plant next year.) Hmmm…squash and bean soup actually sounds pretty good. Maybe that’ll be something to experiment with. ๐Ÿ™‚

Beans! Glorious Beans!

After recovering from last week’s mini-flu and being merry this past Labor Day weekend, we got back out into the garden to pick…BEANS! If there’s one thing in the garden that’s doing better than just about everything else it’s the beans. Not the string beans (their season has passed), but the pole beans and bush beans, both of which require shelling and drying.

Just a handful of said beans, waiting to be shelled.
Just a handful of said beans, waiting to be shelled.

Or, in our case, just shelling because the pods and beans have already dried! That’s the really nice thing about thee beans — if you happen to forget about them, having them dry on the plants is no problem. At least them you’re sure that the beans are ready to store. (Though it’s always a good idea to set them out to dry for at least a few days, just to make sure they are all really dry. In the case of beans, one bad, wet bean can spoil the whole bunch, so no sense in letting your harvest go moldy.)

With having yesterday (Labor Day) off, we go to picking and shelling. We’ve got plenty to save now, and looking at what’s left on the plants, there are lots more to come! So let’s see just some of what we ended up with.

It’s kind of a short story, because once we shell all the beans…

Shelled and ready to sort.
Shelled and ready to sort.

…then it’s time to sort.

The first few of many piles.
The first few of many piles.

In the picture above we ended up with Blue Goose cowpeas (top left), Red Ripper cowpeas (top center), a few unripe black beans (top right), Cherokee Trail of Tears black beans (right), Holstein cowpeas (bottom center right), a couple Christmas lima beans (bottom center left), and Turkey Craw beans (bottom left). It’s a veritable cacophony of beans!

Seeing as how pretty the beans are, we couldn’t resist taking a few “artistic” shots.

The Blue Goose beans are very pretty, and they aren't really blue. More of a light gray speckled when they are raw. They become more brown when dry.
The Blue Goose beans are very pretty, and they aren’t really blue. More of a light gray speckled when they are raw. They become more brown when dry.
The Red Ripper beans start out very pink. They eventually dry to a deep maroon color.
The Red Ripper beans start out very pink. They eventually dry to a deep maroon color.
The speckled Turkey Craw beans also start out very pink and white. When dry, the pink part turns a dark, dull red, and the white part browns a little.
The speckled Turkey Craw beans also start out very pink, and white. When dry, the pink part turns a dark, dull cranberry red, and the white part turns beige.
The black beans are the prettier of them all. When raw, they take on various shades of dark blue and violet. They all dry a deep black.
The black beans are the prettiest of them all. When raw, they take on various shades of dark blue and violet. They all dry a deep black.

In addition to making a good harvest of these beans, we also managed a decent if small crop of soybeans this year.

Edamame, anyone?
Edamame, anyone?

Last year the squirrels and rabbits got to the soybeans before they even had a chance. This year, we planted the soybeans in one of the back barrels (when tomatoes would have been if they hadn’t died off early), and they did pretty well. We might try this placement for them again next year.

As more beans come in, it’ll soon be time to plan out all the bean soups and stews we’ll be making this winter! That is an exciting prospect, indeed. ๐Ÿ™‚

2015’s Third Update in Pictures

Alrighty, we got a little too happy with the camera, and we have a TON of pictures to share! So, without much ado about anything, onward with the gallery!

P. S. Apologies for the several blurry photos. Getting things looking right with just the camera on the ol’ cell phone is more difficult than it should be some days.

First off, the strawberry plant. While no longer producing fruit, the thing is shooting out runners (i.e. baby strawberry plants) like mad! Plus, you'll notice a non-floweing marigold that took up residence in one of the cracks of our draiveway to the left, and some cherry tomato plants that are trying their best to the right.
First off, the strawberry plant. While no longer producing fruit, the thing is shooting out runners (i.e. baby strawberry plants) like mad! Plus, you’ll notice a non-floweing marigold that took up residence in one of the cracks of our driveway to the left, and some cherry tomato plants that are trying their best to the right.
Over by the strawberry, we have these two rather sad looking tomato plants. Turns out that the pots we bought drain too well and they have a hard time retaining water. Even with daily watering, these guys are struggling, though that have given us some tasty tomatoes.
Over by the strawberry, we have these two rather sad looking tomato plants. Turns out that the pots we bought drain too well, and they have a hard time retaining water. Even with daily watering, these guys are struggling, though that have given us some tasty tomatoes.
Moving around to the side of the house, things here are good and less good. The cabbage plant keeled over during a storm, but is somehow still flowering. Elswhere, we have tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and tomatillos just chugging along.
Moving around to the side of the house, things here are good and less good. The cabbage plant keeled over during a storm, but is somehow still flowering (it’s the strange, yellowish mass in the center). Otherwise, we have (mostly) cherry tomatoes, peppers, marigolds, and tomatillos chugging along.
Yay, tomatillos!
Yay, tomatillos!
And the marigolds here are just so pretty.
And the marigolds here are just so pretty.
In raised bed #1 we said goodbye to the peas and soybeans. The broccoli plants look okay, but there's no broccoli. At this point, is it likely any will start? We has the same probalem with romanesco last year - nice plants but no production.
In raised bed #1 we said goodbye to the peas and soybeans. The broccoli plants in the corner look okay, but there’s no broccoli. At this point, is it likely any will start? We had the same problem with romanesco last year – nice plants but no production.
In raised bed #2, all the lettuce is going to seed, We're happy to have it re-seed the bed.
In raised bed #2, all the lettuce is going to seed, We’re happy to have it re-seed the bed.
In raised bed #3, all this blur is cucumbers, which have rightly crawled up the sides of the pvc cage. There are also a couple random cherry tomato plants doing well in here despite the climbing vines.
In raised bed #3, all this blur is cucumbers, which have rightly crawled up the sides of the PVC cage. There are also a couple random cherry tomato plants doing well in here despite the climbing vines.
And in raised bed #4, there's still plenty of kale (some of which is overdue for harvesting), several more tomato plants, and okra (big red-green leaves on the right). The particular ojkra plant in view has just developed flowers, so maybe we'll get some actual okra!
And in raised bed #4, there’s still plenty of kale (some of which is overdue for harvesting), several more tomato plants, and okra (big red-green leaves on the right). The particular okra plant in view has just developed flowers, so maybe we’ll get some actual okra! In the bare spot, we tried to replant arugula, but it didn’t take.
Moving on, here's a decent view of the first stone bed, full of tomatoes and an very, very bushy asparagus plant (We should get stalks next year.)
Moving on, here’s a decent view of the first stone bed, full of random and non-random tomatoes, and a very, very bushy asparagus plant on the end there. (We should get stalks next year. Can’t wait!)
In the second stone bed, you can see how the squash plants have spilled out over the sides. Though we planned for this, it's all rather amazing. Plus, the tomatoes plants in here have grown so large that they have started toppling over. :( Luckily, there's no problem with the fruit. This has made up rethink tomato supports -- those cheap conical cages just don't cut it when the plants get too big.
In the second stone bed, you can see how the squash plants have spilled out over the sides. Though we planned for this, it’s all rather amazing. Plus, the tomatoes plants in here have grown so large that they have started toppling over. ๐Ÿ˜ฆ Luckily, there’s no problem with the fruit. This has made us rethink tomato supports — those cheap conical cages just don’t cut it when the plants get too big.
So we thought we planted pumkin seeds in the section where this butternut squash is grwoing, but apparently we planted butternut squash seeds instead. No harm done -- this one will be ready to pick within the coming weeks, plus other ones have started appearing!
So we thought we planted pumpkin seeds in the section where this butternut squash is growing, but apparently we planted butternut squash seeds instead. No harm done — this one will be ready to pick within the coming weeks, plus other ones have started appearing!
Continuing the squash theme, the zucchini is still growing like mad.
Continuing the squash theme, the zucchini is still growing like mad.
And, of course, there's acorn squash. We are so looking forward to fall!
And, yes, there’s acorn squash, too. We are so looking forward to fall!
And let's not forget the tomatoes in the second stone bed. This huge Marmande was picked just after this photo was taken.
And let’s not forget the tomatoes in the second stone bed, all of which are producing like crazy. This huge Marmande was picked just after this photo was taken.
And let's not forget the ground cherries. We're getting a really great crop this year, however, we've lost many to the squirrels. They are quick to get the ones that fall on the ground.
Oh, but the ground cherries! We’re getting a really great crop this year, however, we’ve lost many to the squirrels. They are quick to get the ones that fall on the ground.
In the back, we have lots and lots and lots more. Tomatoes and peppers.
In the back, we have lots and lots and lots more. Tomatoes and peppers. Some of the plants are doing better than others.
A close-up of our most exotic tomatoes, Tlacalula Pink, a Mexican variety. These have been tough to grow, as many of the fruit rotted before ripening. Here's hoping for these two!
A close-up of our most exotic tomatoes, Tlacalula Pink, a Mexican variety. These have been tough to grow, as many of the fruit rotted before ripening. Here’s hoping for these two!
Don't ask us why we decided to grow cayenne peppers, considering neither of us really cares for hot peppers, but we did. When they are green, they're hot. When they're a pretty yellow, they are even hotter. Not sure what we'll do when they turn red. Admire them from afar, perhaps?
Don’t ask us why we decided to grow cayenne peppers, considering neither of us really cares for hot peppers, but we did. When they are green, they’re hot. When they’re a pretty yellow, they are even hotter. Not sure what we’ll do when they turn red. Admire them from afar, perhaps?
Oh, did we mentioned we created an hanging lettuce bed? Well...this is our hanging lettuce bed! There are several varieties in it, which due for some harvesting.
Did we mentioned we built a hanging lettuce bed? Well, we did. This is our hanging lettuce bed! There are several varieties in it, which due for some harvesting.
Moving over to the beans and such in the long bed, the purple bush beans are on their last kegs (just made what might be a final harvest the other day), but some of the pinto beans have started reflowering.
Moving over to the beans and such in the long bed, the purple bush beans are on their last kegs (just made what might be a final harvest the other day), but some of the pinto beans have started reflowering. (Though you’d hardly know it because of all the grass in the way. Yes, we’ve gotten a little lazy with weeding…)
On the other side of the bed, you'd hardly know there were (and still are) bush beans, as tomatoes and cucumbers have taken over!
On the other side of the long bed, you’d hardly know there were (and still are) bush beans, as random tomatoes andย  random cucumbers and marigolds have taken over! Though the cucumbers on the left aren’t random — we put them there on purpose to see if they’d take, and they did!
And in the middle of the long bed, we have pole beans
And in the middle of the long bed, we have pole beans, some with actual beans! From right to left — Red Ripper cowpeas, Blue Goose cowpeas (with the long, light-colored beans visible), and Christmas Lima beans (light green plant).
The further adventures of pole beans.
The further adventures of pole beans.
And we have a fava bean. Yes, one fava bean. It's terribly exciting.
And we have a fava bean. Yes, one small fava bean – Ianto’s Fava. (Apparently they are supposed to be small.) It’s terribly exciting.
Much to our delight, we discovered that the critter didn't uproot all our sunflower seeds early on. Not sure which variety this one is, but it's not a snacking variety. It's on a very low, small plant.
Much to our delight, we discovered that the critters didn’t uproot all our sunflower seeds early on. Not sure which variety this one is, but it’s not a snacking variety. It’s on a very low, small plant.
And finally, how about a cattywampus picture of basil and stevia (long plants in front)? We still haven't figure out what to do with the stevia yet.
And finally, how about a cattywampus picture of basil and stevia (long plants in front)? We still haven’t figure out what to do with the stevia yet.

Whew — and that’s that! Hard to believe we’ve hit August already. There’s only about a month left in the traditional growing season, (though depending on the weather, stuff could continue producing well into October) which means we’re turning our sites on preservation. We managed to can some tomatoes, and cucumber pickles are next on our hit list. Though, it’s hard to argue with the great meals of late, as there’s just so much fresh produce to enjoy. It’s turning out to be a wonderful summer. ๐Ÿ™‚