That, on this chilly Pacific Northwest morning, is the unavoidable question. (A hearty shout-out to Shakespeare for the immortal words that so handily provided me with a vegetable pun. I’m sure if he was alive, he’d be relieved to know I gave him credit.)
Back to beans.
Here in my comfy chair, with leftover Thai takeout (the breakfast of champions) at hand, I am poring over the 2014 Seed Savers Exchange catalog, experiencing an internal conflict. My husband and I live on an arterial street in Portland, Oregon, and have been blessed with landlords that have had no problem with us turning most of the front yard into raised garden beds. Our journey through life together is full of projects and experiments, and in 2013, this particular experiment paid off in a harvest of many delightful veggies, including the shelling beans you see pictured below:
These Flambo beans, named for their flamboyance, I suppose, were great fun to watch grow. The plants produced teeny little white flowers, then fuschia-streaked pods that eventually dried into a pleasing purple. I almost didn’t want to pick them, but I had to let them fulfill their purpose – so into a vegetable soup they went, after a good soak.
A vegetable soup. Yes, ONE soup. That’s my dilemma. Shelling beans are easy to grow and fun to pick and, like most products of a garden, exceptionally gratifying when you finally taste them. But did I do them a disservice by only growing enough for one flippin’ pot of soup?
I had all but decided not to grow them, and to instead use my limited space for something a little more efficient and a little less flashy – perhaps a productive little cucumber plant or some lettuce – when I received a list from my seed-ordering buddy. My friend and I plan to grow mostly the same plants in our gardens this year, to save on seed packet costs. And lo, it turns out she wants shelling beans. I suppose I could just not plant the little seeds, and let her have them all, but now I am met with remembering those colors – oh, the purple! the pink! – brightening the front yard that otherwise was fairly green, as vegetables tend to be.
So, like any addict, I flip through the catalog and, simultaneously grudging and excited, circle “Dragon’s Tongue,” “Snow Cap” and “Runner Cannelini,” With such disgustingly charming names, how could I not give them a chance?
I now have my January plans in place: build more garden beds. After all, who needs a yard?