Gardening: The French beans that don't spillBy Linda Fort
August 31, 2012
Gardening gifts can be a blessing and a curse.
Years ago a colleague gave me a small nameless grass in a pot.
It grew into a large handsome plant with tall graceful inflorescences and I was pleased with its appearance. I still am.
However, over the years I have become less pleased with its many children.
It seeds itself everywhere – in the cracks in the paving, in the pots and containers, in the vegetable patch. It is now the most prolific weed in the garden and often when one is left to grow unnoticed will turn into a large difficult-to-budge plant.
The tall grasses also provide a tempting aerial ladder for straying climbers. I sometimes cut the heads off before they can spread the seeds. But that rather defeats the object and mars the beauty of the thing – so weeding out the consequences is all I can do – or get rid of it altogether which would be a shame.
Another gift from a colleague has proved to be much more of a blessing.
She handed me a buff envelope last year marked “climbing French beans” from seeds she had saved. She said little about them just handed them over – a bit like the old woman in Jack and the Beanstalk although I didn’t have a cow to give in return and she is not an old woman. But you get the picture.
I almost forgot to plant them, but when my first runner bean seedlings were eaten by slugs, I replanted half the canes with a runner bean called Mergoles and half with these French beans.
They turned out to be purple.
And they also turned out to be the most delicious French beans I have ever eaten.
They have a strong nutty flavour and a perfect texture without a hint of chewy leatheriness.
So thank you very much indeed for the seeds and now I have a duty.
I must save some of these seeds for myself for next year and I must pass some on – like the old woman in the fable – to another Jack.
Beans have always done pretty well in my little vegetable patch provided they beat the slugs at the seedling stage.
A bean seed bed is slightly more resistent to cat-attack because the beans are sown further apart.
I am also very fond of beans and although there is never a glut – as you would have read last week – there are usually enough to have freshly picked beans most evenings for a week or two.
Or maybe these magic beans will be the answer and in the years to come there will be gluts beyond my imagination.