Tuesday, December 1

Blue Lake Pole Bean Seed

Some tips for growing the 2009 One Seed Chicago winner. Make sure to vote for the 2010 candidates so you get free seeds this year too.

Growing Beans

Blue Lake: 58 days to harvest: plump, tender pods; slow-developing seeds; resistant to bean mosaic. Beans are sensitive to cold temperatures and frost. They should be planted after all danger of frost is past in the spring. Plant seeds of all varieties one inch deep and 4-6 inches apart. Read detailed growing tips here.

"Quick Pickle" your green beans

This is a great way to enjoy pickled beans without the complicated process of sterilizing and sealing the pickling jars. Trim and steam 1 pound of green beans for 2-3 minutes to soften and put in a large bowl along with 8 sprigs of fresh dill, 1 teaspoon mustard seed, 2 peeled cloves of garlic, and 1 small dried or fresh chile (optional). Make about 1 quart of "basic pickling liquid" by combining 2 cups water, 2 cups rice vinegar, 2/3 cup white wine vinegar (6% acidity), 1/3 cup sugar, and 1/4 cup salt. Bring liquid to a simmer and pour over beans. Cool to room temperature and refrigerate overnight. They will keep in your fridge for about two weeks - if you don't eat them all the next day!

Bean Recipes
What's cookin', good lookin'? Dr. Pepper Baked Beans? Spicy Black Bean Burgers? Bean Maplenut Candy?

How to sprout beans
Use one cup of beans - mung, lentil, or garbanzo (chick peas) are ideal. Inspect them for broken or withered beans or clumps of soil. Rinse them in a strainer and place them in a jar. Cover with filtered or spring water a few inches above the beans and soak for 12-24 hours. Drain out the water, but don't throw it away - it has nutrients and can be added to smoothies or used to water your plants. Rinse the beans and shake out the water using a strainer or cheesecloth secured over the lid of the jar with a rubber band. They should be mostly dry when you're done. Put the rinsed beans back in jar. Rinse and shake the beans once in the morning and once at night for about 4 days, and watch them sprout their cute white chutes!

Make bean art!
You don't need to build a giant silver bean in Millenium Park to be a great artist! Take some dried beans of various colors and glue them to paper to make pictures.

Plant a Three Sisters Garden
In this traditional Native American planting, corn, beans and squash are planted together for the benefit of all three crops. By investigating this planting method, you can not only gain an appreciation for natural organic gardening and plant science, but also Native American folklore and customs. For more information about how to grow a "three sisters" garden and resources related to this tried and true method of planting, please visit: Creating a Three Sisters Garden.

Design a Bean Maze
Using a dark box with sunlight at the end of the "tunnel." you can see which bean plant finishes the growing race first. For details, visit Bean Maze Activity. Great fun for all ages and a great activity for home or the classroom.

Read about beans...
These and many more bean books are available through Chicago Public Libraries

Beans and Peas by Susanna Miller; Carolrhoda Books, 1990: ages 4-9.
From Bean to Bean Plant by Anita Gareci; Morrow Jr Books, 1991; ages 5-8.
How a Seed Grows: Let's Read & Find Out by Helene Jordan; Harper Trophy, 1992; ages 5-8.
Jack and the Beanstalk retold by Steven Kellogg, Morrow Jr Books, 1991: ages 4 and up.
Lucas and His Loco Beans by Ramona Moreno Winner & Nicole Velasquez; Brainstorm, 2002; ages 4-7.
Old Granny and the Bean Thief by Cynthia DeFelice Farrar; Straus & Giroux, 2003; ages 5-9.
One Bean by Anne Rockwell & Megan Halsey; Walker & Co, 1991; ages 3-8.
Seeds, Seeds, Seeds by Nancy Elizabeth Wallace; Marshall Cavendish, 2004; ages 4-8.