Sep 202013

“Beans are good food. They have no cholesterol and almost no fat. They are loaded with Proteins, calcium and iron. They have soluble fibre, which many people associate only with oat bran and they have omega-3 fatty acids which we tend to think of in fish oils. About the only thing that beans do not have is a good lobbying group to promote their advantages.”

Neal Barnard, M.D. Foods that fight pain.

Surprising for a vegetarian I have never been a big fan of beans. Not until I started growing my own. After reading The Resilient Gardener by Carol Deppe I changed up my garden planting scheme to follow her formula for growing lots of calories and protein. I was already familiar with an array of bean choices from some presentations that Krista Rome of the Backyard Bean and Grain Project had made to our Gardener’s Network. Krista has reintroduced some old bean varieties in Whatcom County and sells them on her website.

Three years ago I had a good crop of shell beans (a couple of quarts) and was surprised at how satisfying they were compared to beans I had previously eaten. My guess is that the beans you buy in the store have been around so long they’ve lost their flavor and, more importantly, their texture as every bean I had every eaten was mealy or crunchy even with long soak times. The beans we’re eating now are smooth and flavorful.

Last year I had a good bean crop going. They made it to the bloom stage when, apparently, a few hundred rabbits showed up one night and ate them to the ground. Last year—no beans. And, if I can digress, I’m starting to understand why sheep herders shoot coyotes, wolves and mountain lions. After deer rampage through your orchard, the rabbits eat all your beans and orc-like swarms of yellow jackets decimate your beehives it is probable that one will begin to feel illiberal and develop an us-against-them mentality.

This year I put poultry fencing around the bean patch and now we have a cat. We call him Little Buddy but could have named him Dexter because he is the sweetest little serial killer you’ve ever scratched. Buddy has kept the rabbits on the run. The poultry fence kept him from using the bean patch as a cat box.

Saxon beans

This year we got two gallons of beans in four varieties: Ely, Saxon, Jacob’s Cattle and Ireland Creek Annie. (Two gallons represents 32 entres for the two of us). Jacob’s Cattle and Ireland Creek Annie are bush beans. The others are pole beans. All are quite delicious spiced up with a bit of onion, green pepper, salt and touch of Tabasco. So far I like the Saxon the best. Because beans are such an important food for the non meat eater I think I will expand the bean patch next year.

But these were not the only beans for 2013. Gary P. and I decided that we wanted to experiment with growing food for the island. We were allowed to use a 1500 sq ft plot on some other people’s property. The experiment was to try and grow food with a minimal amount of work and no irrigation other than normal rain water. Interesting that we decided to do this in one of the driest years on record. Gary plowed, disked and tilled the plot with his tractor. We planted soybeans. I hoed it once a week and we were amazed that we got about 100 lbs of beans off the plot. These were the edamame variety which you steam or boil and eat from the pod. They are quite addictive and I’ve got about 25 lbs blanched and vacuum packed in the freezer.


A 1/2-cup serving of shelled edamame contains only 100 calories, with 3 g of unsaturated fat and 8 g of protein. It also provides 4 g of fiber and is a good source of calcium, copper, folate, iron, magnesium, manganese, phosphorus, thiamin, vitamin A, vitamin C and vitamin K. Edamame doesn’t contain any cholesterol and has very little sodium.”

Many people complain that beans cause “digestive upset.” Carol Deppe points out that if you eat beans regularly your body will adapt.

Eat enough beans and you might write a poem.

Red Beans


Next  to white rice

it looks like coral

sitting next to snow

Hills of starch


The burnt sienna

of irony

Azusenas being chased by

the terra cotta feathers

of a rooster

There is a lava flow

through the smoking

white mounds

India red

spills on ivory

Ochre cannon balls


next to blanc pebbles

Red beans and milk

make burgundy wine

Violet pouring

from the eggshell

tinge of the plate.