Tuesday, October 27, 2009

The vegetable garden: winding down

I grew scarlet runner beans for the first time this year, and only a couple of plants survived the repeated nipping by rabbits. Fortunately, the survivors made a beautiful display earlier in the season, with lovely flame-colored flowers. 

I had read someplace that scarlet runner beans are edible, but the large fuzzy pods didn't look that appetizing, and I didn't have enough to make it worth drying them just to get a handful of dried beans. Then I  read a Barbara Damrosh article in the Washington Post  about cooking beans, including scarlet runner beans, fresh from the pod. She claimed that fresh shell beans, as they are called, are a treat, and she was right. Once you pry the pods open, the beans inside are a  stunning bright pink, mottled with purple-blue. I cooked them until they they were white with a touch of blue remaining - about half an hour.  I had just enough for a bit of lunch, delicious with a little butter, salt, and pepper.

Right beside the scarlet runner bean is an enormous plant which I assumed must be a sunflower planted by the birds at the nearby feeder. If so, it never bloomed. Not enough sun? Or not a sunflower? I have no idea. I'll cut it down soon.

Elsewhere in the yard, the kale plants that I set out a month or so ago are doing reasonably well. The peas, unfortunately, have mostly succumbed to the rabbits. I kept row cover on them for quite a long time, but finally took it off. Now only some little nubby plants remain. I rejoice that I don't have a deer problem, and in the past was glad that the rabbits were quite well-behaved, only nibbling a bit of this or that, and not systematically taking out entire crops, as they have done this year. Of course, it's possible squirrels have been the culprits - they delight in destruction just for the sheer sport of it. Their usually modus operandi is to dig things up and just leave them lying about, however, and most of my stuff appears to have been chomped.

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