The Slowcook at Spydog Farm The Slowcook at Spydog Farm

Pole Beans: Fun, or What?

August 6th, 2010 · 1 Comment · Posted in garden

Picture your face here

Picture your face here

Of all the joys of growing your own food, hardly anyone ever talks about picking pole beans. I wonder why. Isn’t sticking your face and arms into a thicket of scratchy bean leaves on a 95-degree day near the top of your list of favorite garden activities? No?

Don’t get me wrong. I actually like picking beans (sort of). This is merely a mild caution that you really need to be in the right frame of mind. Otherwise, this particular activity–getting on a ladder, finding a place for the ladder where it doesn’t want to fall over, plunging your sweaty face and arms into the inhospitable bean vine environment, searching through the tangle of leaves and stems to find the beans, plucking the beans without tearing them or the vine into shreds–all of this definitely calls for a zen-like state of calm determination.

There is one further consideration where pole beans are concerned: while they certainly save space in an urban garden with their habit of growing vertically, they are also inedible unless you harvest them at an ideal point in their development. That would be when they begin to mature, but before they develop strings. Even varities that advertise themselves as “string-less” are wont, at the dinner table, to make your spouse and child gag and flog you for being so inconsiderate as to serve tough, stringy beans.

“But I thought I got all the strings,” you will whimper. Forget it, chump.

No, in my experience, a state of hyper-vigilence is absolutely required where string beans are concerned. You must pick them while they are still in their innocent stage of pre-string tenderness. Any signs of yellowing (I mean even even the slightest blush of yellow, although this might not apply to yellow beans), or beans bulging in the pods and it will be too late. (Some pole bean enthusiasts are undeterred. They will simply remove the beans from the pods and eat those. But I am off starchy legumes.)

Oh, and don’t even think about going on vacation and expect to find a harvest of tender beans when you return.

Follow these few simple rules and you are sure to find years of enjoyment in your pole beans. Or, in the aternative, plant bush beans.

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  • sarah @ syrupandhoney

    Uh oh, is harvesting pole beans as uncomfortable has harvesting squash in these heat? If so, I guess I’m thankful my farm doesn’t grow beans. Actually, I should take that back because tender pole beans are so delightful to eat. Thanks for the tips!