No Hard Feelings

Even though I wasn’t in a great mood at bean planting time and wasn’t even sure I wanted to deal with it, I planted beans. A few inside, a few outside 3x too deep, a few outside the right depth. ALL of them came up and I gave 3 plants away. There are now 23 bean plants in my garden and they are the happiest beans I’ve ever grown even though none of them were named or got to “write” any poetry.

I guess they knew all along that they were beans, not Tang Dynasty Chinese Poets, and that being a Scarlet Emperor Bean is quite enough, thank you.

Last night I got to eat the first small handful from these plants. It was as delicious as were their forbears.

Today I was out watering their besties — the sunflowers on whom they rely to help attract pollinators and on which they wind the later vines of the summer. The sunflowers seem to like them, too. There were dozens of bees and then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a very tiny hummingbird of a type I had not seen before. I was pretty sure he was a Rufus Hummingbird, but not being a legit birder, how would I know?


Hummingbirds love the red flowers. The little guy fed on the nectar of the highest flowers, enchanting to watch. I didn’t move, I just kept watering. Later I did my research (like a good non-birder) and learned that I was right about the type and that he’s migrating. I thought of the wonder of how my beans reach 10 or 12 feet and bloom their hearts out just at the moment hummingbirds are traveling through.

Nature’s clock is so much more subtle and wondrous than spring, summer, fall and winter. Each being has its clock that tells it where it needs to be and what it needs to do. When things go haywire — like the blizzard we had on September 9, 2019 — every being suffers. Bear and I didn’t suffer, and Teddy hadn’t known enough Septembers yet to know it was a little odd, but I did have to deal with downed trees in my yard. That was a kind of pain. $$$

I remember being out at the Refuge and seeing a mountain blue bird hovering at eye level, looking me as if he were saying, “Help!” There was no food for him and he wasn’t supposed to be there. That year was a massive die off and what blew me away is that it took so long for people to see the obvious reason. Millions of migrating tiny birds caught in a blizzard.

But here’s my new “friend.”

I love these beans. They’ve taught me so much. I think they “know” me and my role in their existence. I look on the green pods I pick, cook and eat as a gift. “Thank you, Martha, for saving seeds and planting us so we can grow and do our thing.” After 5 generations I guess they’ve specialized to my yard. Every year they are taller and more productive. Their little garden is a small bean cathedral.

24 thoughts on “No Hard Feelings

  1. A joyful read about nature’s offerings, good and bad. Your garden looks wonderful. I took your advice and planted sunflowers and corn with my beans. Then, I forgot I had planted the sunflowers and pulled what I thought were weeds. It was about a week later after pulling said “weeds” I was wondering why the sunflowers hadn’t grown, then, of course I realized my mistake. However out in my alley I have a wonderful garden of sunflowers courtesy of the birds and those sunflowers support the hops.

        • They must be loving those long summer days up there. I know one reason my beans get so tall is that there’s a hedge on the east and a house on the west and they have to reach for the sun.

          • Yes, they do love the longer days. My garden is mostly shaded in the late afternoon. I was just out picking beans for tonight’s dinner. The plants are not very happy, the wind is giving them a good lashing today.

            • Wind. I planted some beans out in front one year because it gets more sun but it also gets the wind which here, as you know, is brutal if not plain sadistic. They died. My beans need to be sheltered. I don’t even know if they’s supposed to grow here but I got the original package at the local hardware store. They’re from central America/Mexico.

  2. I have Firecracker Bush and Abelia plants in my front yard and the hummingbirds love them. For the past 5 years, they have come to visit me and then fly across the street to the trees in my neighbor’s yard. I get so excited to see them return year after year.

  3. I’m SO glad that the beans figured out they just needed to grow a little taller — and that took a little longer than for the earlier ones. They look delicious, and it sounds as if you have quite a good sized crop! I’m a little late to do any planting this year, but may start collecting seeds for next spring. I have a border about 6″ by 7 feet, and a patch about 3′ x 3′ — maybe portulaca (moss rose) for the border, and some flowers for the other patch — we are discouraged from growing food, though, because it draws pests into a densely populated area! I love the symbiosis between the beans and the sunflowers, too!

      • An old wash basin is almost too big — but I’ve been thinking about a row of window boxes along the border, or clay pots for the other patch.

  4. The Birds and the Beans – a story about life…. I think you have been writing this book for several years and I’m enjoying it! I do love the red flowers on your beans, With that many blossoms you are going to have a bumper crop!!!

  5. People are kinda slow. I remember meeting an Iowa beef farmer who visited farms in China 45-50 years ago. He was amazed that there were no flies in the barns and they told him about the bounty on flies and how they wiped them out. It was years before they realized the disappearance of songbirds was due to the disappearance of their food source.

  6. Congratulations on the beans, Martha. They look wonderful. It must be so satisfying to be able to pick your own grown veg and cook it straight from the plant. I’m looking forward to having a go at a few things when we move to our new house. 🙂

    I can only dream of having a visitor as amazing as your little Rufous Hummingbird in my garden. What an absolute treat. I see from Audobon that they’re vulnerable to climate change, so I hope the little fella and all his avian kind will be ok this year. That poor mountain bluebird and the blizzard of 2019 is a sobering tale, and is very indicative of how urgent action on climate change is now.

    • If you get a garden, you’ll have all kinds of cool visitors (and some not so cool). My valley has had a lot of new bird action this summer and I do not know what it means in terms of the climate — nothing? Something? It’s all a big mystery to me though there are people who think they know. I think they probably don’t.

      • I think it’s a hard one to fathom, Martha, but one thing I do know is that something’s definitely happening and it’s not good. I’ve had the image of your poor little mountain blue bird in my mind all day.

        We’re going to do all we can in the next house to encourage wildlife into the garden, grow things and be as eco friendly as possible. We’re keen to do our bit. 🙂

        • It’s amazing how small things make a huge difference. I don’t feed birds but I have a birdbath. Migrating birds know it’s here. It’s wonderful. I also don’t kill bugs. I have subcontractors for that — birds. I have a birdhouse, every season it’s occupied. It doesn’t take a lot. Fence out critters like rabbits, deer which here I’m not dealing with, but I have… My dog run in the mountains of Colorado was also my vegetable garden.

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