by Kylee Baumle, Our Little Acre
If I were to pick just one vegetable to grow, it would be green beans (Phaseolus vulgaris). I love beans. While nothing beats a fresh green bean from the garden, I'll even eat canned green beans, and I usually don't "do" canned vegetables of any kind except for sweet corn. And beans.
You can grow green beans in just about any soil, although they prefer it loose and rich in organic matter. They handle a drought about as well as any vegetable, and this year that has been important for many areas of the country. Supplemental watering suits them just fine and helps the plants produce more beans.
Green beans can be planted in the spring (after danger of frost has passed) and summer, and will keep producing into fall ' with a maturity date of 45-60 days, depending on variety. They don't get hot or pithy like some other veggies do in hot weather. Don't have a super-sunny spot in which to grow them? They can handle a bit of shade as long as they have several hours of direct sun, preferably midday. I know, because I've grown them in mostly shade and they produced beans aplenty.
Green beans are nutritious, having excellent amounts of vitamins and minerals, namely vitamin A, B6, C and thiamine. Minerals include iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium. They contain a fair amount of antioxidants and they're high in fiber, too. With all this goodness packed into them, they're amazingly low in calories ' just 44 calories in a cup of cooked beans.
I've grown snap beans, as they're often called, ever since I've had a vegetable garden. The first time was in the summer of 1978. The beans sprouted, and as long as I kept picking them, the plants kept producing. Picking beans is essentially the same as deadheading a plant. Remove the seed pods (the beans) and the plant thinks it needs to make more.
There are bush beans, pole beans, runner beans, yellow beans and speckled beans. There are even purple beans that turn green when you cook'em! Boring, beans are not! But the best thing about beans is how good they taste. My preferred way of fixing them is to boil, drain and then add butter, salt and pepper - simple goodness from the garden.