I sing the praises of my 30” X 72” back and knee-saving stand planter. It has yielded early crops of lettuce, chard, basil, bok choi, bunching onions, parsley, oregano, more. But where it shines is in producing later crops, planted when the others have been harvested, leaving beautiful, rich soil that begs, “More, we can do more.” And we can.
Cover: Beans and carrots ready for the oven; photo by Sheila Velazquez.
Mid July is my favorite time to plant. Temperatures have moderated, and the comfortably warm days and cooler nights produce fast-growing greens and vegetables that will reach maturity and full production well before the first frost. They almost grow themselves. Soil retains sufficient moisture with light rains and dewy mornings, maybe only needing a few light waterings during the growing period.
Today I harvested my second batch of bush beans. There are hundreds of tiny beans remaining, and I will pick those that are ready every few days, they grow that fast.
All these beans cost me is a few minutes of time and $1.50 for a packet of seeds from Ocean State Job Lot in North Adams, my favorite store, in part because they discount seeds throughout the growing season. And I have bean seeds left over for next year.
If you’d like to try this, snap the ends from the beans and then into smaller pieces and combine in a baking dish with peeled, cut carrots. Add a few Tbsp. of water, a few curls of butter, and spices. Here I used pepper, dill, and celery seed. Cover with lid or foil and bake.
Because the carrots and the beans are small and tender, I used the shortest cooking time, 45 min. at 350 degrees. Test at this point and bake up to an additional 15 minutes until tender to your taste. I freeze batches in small bags. A real treat in cold weather.
In a couple of weeks, the late crop of patio cucumbers will (hopefully) be ready, right around the time that I will be done with the beans. I love how that works.
Sheila Velazquez is a writer and editor whose work has appeared in more than 100 print newspapers and magazines, including Grit, New Woman, the Hartford Courant, the New Haven Register, the San Antonio Express-News and Bay Area Parent. Her awards include two from the Society of Professional Journalists for a syndicated column. Sheila has contributed to online websites, including commondreams.org and dissidentvoice.org. She served as contributing editor of Organic Producer magazine and wrote biographical material for reference collections that include “Contemporary Authors,” the “Encyclopedia of International Biography” and “Notable Sports Figures.” Feel free to send her an e-mail.