Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Barcelona Beans

Barcelona have Messi, Neymar and Suarez up front. A ridiculous embarrassment of riches.

I have a similar embarrassment of riches. I have Borlotti, Rocquencourt and Cobra, plus Tendergreens, Canada Wonders, Pea Beans and Blue Lake - an embarrassment of beans.
They all grow well (as long as I am patient and leave sowing them until uncomfortably late in the spring). They all crop well. They all taste delicious.

I also grow runner beans, two types. I feel I should grow runner beans. Every veg patch has runner beans. I can't be a proper gardener if I don't grow runner beans. If you know your football, runner beans are my Fred. In the team, but nobody quite knows why.
To be honest if you put a runner bean and a French bean next to each other, I'd go for the French every time. And there's no risk of ending up with a mouthful of stringiness (even 'stringless' runners end up stringy if you neglect picking them, which I inevitably do when all those crisp, fresh French beans are growing right next door.)

I do like the flowers, though, as do the bees. So the runners survive in the plan, but just for drying and using through the winter.


The French beans
You'll have to excuse the long grass - the mower's broken... again.
The French beans fall into two categories. Borlottis, Pea Beans and Canada Wonder are all grown just for drying, for the beans inside the pods.

The rest are grown for the pods, to be eaten fresh or sliced and frozen for later.
Cobra beans are climbers, which crop early and heavily, but which are gone all too soon. Blue Lake are similar. There's nothing between them really, but I suspect that if I measured the yield carefully the Cobras would just edge it. Besides, they have wonderful black beans inside. The Blue Lake have white beans.
Then there are the Rocquencourts. Dwarf yellow beans which snap crisply and have a wonderful waxy texture. Even with a failure first time round (too cold, too dry, didn't make it past the slugs and rabbits), the second attempt which I netted has yielded several bags of beans for the freezer.
So that just leaves the Dwarf Tendergreens. These came in a mixed packet from Poundland or some such shop, so I wasn't expecting too much. In fact, I forgot about them until yesterday when I noticed bunches of beans hiding below the leaves. So I picked a few to try and they were disappointingly good, even the ones which had grown a little long and fat. I say 'disappointingly' as this leaves me with my Barcelona bean situation. A ubiquity of quality.

Then there are the broad beans and, just for the extravagance, the Yardlong beans in the polytunnel.

So, here's my team. The final eleven.

Borlotti Bean 'Lingua de Fuoco'
French Bean 'Canada Wonder' (kidney beans)
Pea Bean
Runner Bean Armstrong (red)
Runner Bean 'White Lady'
Climbing French Bean 'Cobra'
Climbing French Bean 'Blue Lake'
Dwarf French Bean 'Tendergreen'
Dwarf French Bean 'Rocquencourt'
Broad Bean 'Bunyard's Exhibition'
Yardlong Bean
 
Just don't make me choose one to leave on the bench.

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