Our little bean patch is ripping along now. We’ve been harvesting for just over a week and can now pick up to twice a day. It’s only a small patch (under 3 square metres) with various bush beans (e.g. Blue Lake, Bush Butter Beans) and we don’t get a huge quantity every day, sometimes not quite enough for a meal or salad. But it’s vital to keep picking them regularly so the plants keep on producing and so that the beans don’t get oversized and tough.
I keep a storage container in the fridge and add the freshly picked beans to the container once or twice a day, so I always have enough in the fridge for the next meal. This way, my beans are a uniform size so they cook evenly – much more convenient than trying to pick enough fresh from the bushes just in time for the meal. Even after a few days in the fridge they are still way fresher than shop beans, and I don’t waste any from overgrowth.
My next step is to interplant with new beans between the existing bushes, so that as their production slows down, the next generation will be ready to step up to the challenge. Planting fairly closely (staggered rows about 15 cm apart with plants about 30cm apart) means that the plants help to support one another with just a bit of help from some twigs (left from the last pruning of the stone fruit trees – these are great because they’re knobbly and forked, easy for the tendrils to grip).
Beans and peas are such great value, delivering fantastic nutrition with so little effort or outlay, and providing a perfect rotation crop in between other vegies. And there’s a variety for every time of year. Check out a great selection at Nadja’s Garden stall at the Marion Markets.