Tuesday, 27th January 2004
Richard Bell's Wild West Yorkshire nature diary
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These leathery-looking, leopard-spotted pods curve and writhe like
seals on a rookery beach (of course they're not actually
moving, although I was unable to finish this drawing because I knocked
the box I'd put them in and there was no way I could get them back
in the same arrangement again).
pods are tinder dry; they snap and crackle as I prise them open.
They have a pearly lining. The beans are magenta pink with deepest
purple streaking covering almost the entire bean. They're lustrous,
as if they've been polished pebble-smooth, and sit, some still attached
by an umbilicus (the bean's 'eye') to the side of the pod, like
a pharoah in his his sarcophagus, awaiting rebirth.
Pods v. Beans
We harvest our runner beans in the summer. We
try to pick them before the beans fully develop, as the pods - which
we slice and boil - soon start getting stringy. In Italy it's invariably
the beans themselves that are eaten: they are used in soups and
stews. We've never tried that.
The runner bean, or Scarlet Runner, Phaseolus
coccineus, grows in the wild in the mountains of Mexico and
in some South American countries.
been tidying up the vegetable beds but, before we dismantle the
garden cane wigwams, I pick the remaining pods from the withered
plants to use the beans as seeds; I'm going to try growing an early
crop by planting some of them in large pots in the greenhouse in
March. I'll plant them outside when I put the tomato plants in the
greenhouse in May.
Further south in England it would probably be possible to grow
and harvest the crop in the greenhouse before the tomatoes go in.
Here in West Yorkshire there probably would not be time to harvest
the crop by May.
We can have frosts as late as May which would kill the unprotected
bean plants, so I'll be lucky if I get this to work.
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