Beans talk

I am not sure what it is with me and beans but they seem to have an almost mystical appeal, from the green sliced runners of childhood to the dried brown or black beans of nomadic people. Maybe it is because it is a seed eaten as seed. Maybe because they are a staple of food cultures I revere from the Middle East to Mexico. Maybe it is because the Cherokee Trail of Tears the Seed Ambassadors gave us as one of our first crops come with an unbelievable fertility and a heartbreaking tale. Maybe it is just because they are one of my favourite things to eat and grow.

We sowed Aquadulce Claudia on Sunday as an overwintering crop, a hopeful message in a bottle cast into choppy, wintry seas. We will add Crimson Flowered to them in spring. We often eat broad beans straight from the pod; at most, at home, lightly steamed, lightly dressed with good oil.

We grow Trail of Tears, blue Blauhilde, buttery Gold of Bacao, beautiful borlotto in summer, also field beans as green manure in winter, though not this year. I think part of the appeal lies in their ancient appearance, as though they have been found in a pharoah’s tomb. Fresh, in or out of the pod, or dried for protein for poor people without access to much fish and meat, there is an unassuming purity about them.

It is also that for growers they are givers not takers, fixing nitrate rather than exhausting land, returning dozens of pods for one seed: such good value. Do you, too, have crops that have a hold on you? If so, please share.

22 10 2012

Allan Jenkins

(photos Howard Sooley)

3 thoughts on “Beans talk

  1. Thankyou very much for the link about Cherokees.
    Beans are so beautiful, versatile & life enhancing. No wonder they are amongst the sacred food plants of many cultures.

  2. I concur on the beans to be honest; aside from their own amazing beauty and variety, I think it’s the substance they represent. A jar of beans is both your seed for next year, but also the foundation for a good few meals in the meantime. I excuse myself in advance from linking to a post of my own on their appeal:

    Aside from beans I would probably say tomatoes hold the most unreasonable appeal for me. I’m not sure why, as they’re so much less practical with all the cossetting they need to get to fruiting, and the work involved in storing them, but where other people may dream of sports cars and Caribbean getaways if they came in to a spare million or three, I dream of the space and resources to grow every tomato that catches my eye. An acre of glasshouse would keep me happier for longer than any Ferrari. And I could try to solve the storage problem with de Colgar or ramellet types…if only I actually played the lottery, eh?!

  3. Hi Allan and Howard – impressive looking beans. Do you store beans for food and if so, which are the better tasting bean for you? We grow most of our on vegetables and salad crops and use Oats as a green manure. Would love to link to your blog if that’s OK?

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