Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Bean Blossoms (Growing Challenge)

I haven't finished writing about Italy or our wedding, but I realized that it has been quite some time since I've written about the crop, my little collection of beans, on which I'm focusing for A Growing Challenge.

First to bloom and set fruit is Indian Woman Yellow. The flowers are a lovely soft cream color: they look like Victorian pantaloons.



Their first beans are tiny, slender little things now, but seeing them, I can already imagine their swelling sides, pregnant with future soups and refried beans.

The Pencil Pod Wax are also beginning to bloom, a soft, even lavender with long "landing pads" for pollinators.


The winner of A Thinking Stomach's Legume Beauty Pageant is Blue Coco. The vining stems are a deep burgundy-purple, the lush foliage dark green with purple blushes, and the blossoms are purple on the upper edges, fading to a soft pink. This plant could easily serve as an ornamental, they are that lovely. I can't wait for the vines, already as tall as me, to begin blooming more profusely.



The Asian Yardlong (aka Asparagus or Snake) beans are not close to blooming yet, but they're beginning to grow vigorously. They started slowly, but all of a sudden, they are thigh-high and climbing briskly.


Beyond beans, a couple other interesting things are happening in the ol' garden plot. The edible flowers of my black hollyhock, the variety that Jefferson chose to grow in his extensive gardens at Monticello, have just begun to unfurl. Honestly, I can't get enough of Jefferson's choice of plants—they've never disappointed me. I planted these as seedlings last spring, and since they're biennials, I've had to wait until now to see them come to blossom. The wait has been worth it.


Another curiosity I planted last year is the Egyptian Walking Onion. This variety sends up scapes that are loaded with little mini-plants that eventually fall over and plant themselves where they fall. The mini-plants can be harvested to start new plants elsewhere, or dried and the little bulbs pickled. The larger bulbs underground never get huge, but can be used just as any other onion, if one chooses to harvest them. I think I'll focus on the Egyptian Walking Onion as a producer of small bulbs, my pearl-onion producer.


Also on the allium front, while checking the bulb size of my Korean Red garlic yesterday, I accidentally got a little too aggressive and dinged the bulb of the plant I used as a guideline. Rather than risk letting the damaged plant get sick, I pulled it out. And with it, I made the most glorious salad dressing I've made for quite some time.

Green Garlic and Honey Salad Dressing
This recipe should make enough for a large salad (for 4-6 people) or two smaller ones (for 2-3 folks). I used half of it one night's dinner salad for ECG and me, reserving the rest in a jar for the next night's salad.

You will need:
The juice of one lemon
The same amount of good olive oil as lemon juice
One large stem of green garlic, cleaned, roots and tough parts removed, and coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon honey
salt and pepper to taste

To make the dressing:
Toss all the ingredients in in a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles a creamy green-gold vichyssoise. Taste test with a leaf of whatever salad greens you are using; check for a balance of salt, tang, sweet, and garlicky-warmth. Adjust ingredients as necessary.


This tasted particularly good on a tangle of Marveille de Quatre Saisons lettuce and salty-tangy orach from the garden, combined with arugula from the farmers' market. Use it with whatever greens are in season in your garden or market right now.

After eating, be warned: this is raw garlic. Breathe accordingly.

8 comments:

kale for sale said...

My Grandmother grew hollyhocks out the living room window and I was thinking of them today. I was remembering a jar of seeds she had of them on the back porch that may still be there. You've inspired me even more to look for them. And I appreciate how up close you look at the beans. They're gorgeous. Thank you.

Lucy said...

Wow, that Egyptian Walking Onion really does 'walk'. Cool.

Teeny, tiny baby beans are gorgeous. Am always amazed at how they grow into bigger beasts!

And what a dressing. Shall breathe accordingly...

Deborah Dowd said...

What a treat to have something that is so pretty end up yielding something so delicious. There is something so special in growing your own!

Christina said...

Kale for Sale: You're more than welcome. I hope the seeds are still there.

Lucy: Yes, it does walk, and yes, it is cool. That's why I just had to grow it. Novelty is a great persuader. I hope the dressing works for you--knowing you, you'll probably turn it into something even better.

Deborah: Welcome! I agree: I just can't get enough of examining my own food as it grows. It certainly makes me appreciate my meals more.

Jean Ann said...

Sounds absolutely divine, I will definitely try this dressing! Maybe with the beets I harvest this year...

Wendy said...

I'm still in growing limbo. Your wonderful garden is making me very, very envious. :)
Love that tiny bean picture.

winedeb said...

Your beans are lookin' good! My growing season for most of my veggies is just about over. The heat has taken over, like right now it is 86 out but feels like 96, and the evenings are not cooling down at all. So I have picked the last of my tomatoes and lettuce, but the herbs and hot peppers are still cranking on. Therefore, I look forward to seeing all of your progress! Your babies are so cute!

Christina said...

Jean Ann: This would taste delicious on beets. I think the garlic would really complement the sweet-earth of the beets.

Wendy: Sorry to hear about the gardening limbo--it sounds like an uncomfortable position in which to be. I hope you find resolution soon.

Winedeb: Whew! That's hot. I hope your peppers keep spitting out fiery little numbers for you.