Wednesday, April 25, 2012


I've learned quite a lot about beans since we've lived here at the greenwood. I started with Thomas Jefferson's hyacinth bean, which turned out to be beautiful, but potentially poisonous. The king objected to its wayward ways, obliterating the front walls with its foliage. He is not moved by blossoms.

I moved on to the more conventional bush bean which, although more restrained in its growth habit, requires prolonged stooping to search out and harvest the beans. Plus, the deer find the bush form much easier to graze the leaves off of. . . . Back to the drawing board.

From Baker Seeds, I ordered Scarlet Runner beans and the Purple Podded Pole bean. The Scarlet Runner bean flowers early and starts producing beans reliably all summer - but I was not a fan of the slightly fuzzy skin. It's not bad, but the purple podded pole beans were beautifully smooth and the purple pods much easier to spot and harvest. Their drawback? They start producing later in the season, but when they start - do they ever start! They produce well into the fall, if you keep harvesting the beans.

Then last year, my globe-trotting parents brought home several packets of beans from various ports they'd called into. I planted several of what I felt certain were bush beans - just to humor them - only to discover that the beans were rampant runners. I erected towers under them and let them climb among the tomatoes. The beans were slow to start, but delicious. They have smooth skin and stay tender well past what I had learned to expect of bean sizes. These were called "Perfect" Judios. Judios apparently means beans! Looking it up now, however, it also apparently means Jews. . . .

I agreed. These were just about perfect beans. Eating-wise, anyway. For this year, I planned to stay with the Perfects and the purple podded pole beans. No Scarlet Runners. Sorry! But then my parents came back with more packets from foreign ports. Oh dear. Here's a close up.
Look at those colours! (I have since decided that perhaps the fungicide they put on packeted beans is coloured. . . . surely the lima beans are not fuchsia? We'll see.)

Which brings me to where to put them. . . .

You know those ugly pvc pipe caps builders insist upon putting right next to your house? (and does anyone know what they're good for?!) We did this:

It does get sun part of the day - just not first thing in the morning, the time of this shot. Meanwhile - I've put in some of each type of bean at each trellis.

Should be fun!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

the owl in the woods

I hear him when I wake at 3 a.m.

I wake often at 3 a.m. - I'm not sure why. Someone once told me it was the hour of evil spirits and ever since then, I turn to prayer as soon as I'm aware enough to realize I'm awake. Inevitably, I fall asleep again almost immediately.

I love to hear the mournful cry of the owl, though, before I fall off.

This morning I was up at dawn to bake a promised loaf of bread. Just outside the back window, our owl sat on his branch. He moves his head like a cat, looking and diving his neck and - yes - turning it almost all the way around to look completely behind him. He's full of motion for all that he is also completely motionless. In the picture, certainly.

Voles, beware! Actually, I'm hoping they will take no notice of him, and that the owl in the woods will take up residence in our clearing, and clear out the voles.