Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Beans

Green Beans (Phaseolus vulgaris)

In addition to the vegetables I mentioned last week that are currently growing in my kitchen garden there are also other ones that I seem to have missed - one of them being the green beans.   Beans are very easy to grow but some gardening pests have to be dealt with.  Of the twenty hills that I planted only half of them escaped the ravaging appetite of snails for healthy young plants.  Nevertheless, that did not stop me from trying some more.  When the bush-bean started to flower, I intercropped yard-long beans in between the hills.  When the bush beans will be done producing, I will cut them down to allow more space for the new crop. (Pictures will follow.)

Nitrogen-Fixing.  Beans, just like most leguminous plants, indirectly improve soil fertility.  Legumes are easy to identify - they have seed that are encased in pods.  They are hosts to the nitrogen-fixing soil bacteria called rhizobiaRhizobia are different from the rest of the soil microorganisms because they have the ability to fix nitrogen.  They infect the roots of legume plants as indicated by the presence of root nodules.  While they are in the plant they catch nitrogen molecules from the air and transform that into a form that is available for plant use.  Sometimes, gardeners and farmers inoculate the seeds before planting to ensure that nitrogen-fixation occurs. 
Green beans and Basil leaves

 This week we harvested a handful of pods enough to provide the vegetables for one meal.   Inspired by the produce I got from my garden, here's a recipe I made.  You are welcome to try it and modify depending on what's available from your own garden.  

Green Bean/Potato Salad with Left-over steak.  
Ingredients:
1 cup green beans (cooked)
3 small potatoes (boiled and cubed)
10-15 cherry tomatoes (cut in halves)
1/2 cup basil leaves (cut in ribbons)
2 Tbsp Olive oil
1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
Pepper and salt
Thin slices of cold steak

Method:
Whisk oil and vinegar together. 
Add to the rest of the vegetables and toss. 
 Add salt and pepper according to desired taste. 
Top it with steak.
Enjoy.

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