I planted a lot of beans this year. Partly because last year's crop didn't fare so well, and partly because I still had seed from 2008 sitting around. So, I decided, what the hay, I'll plant it all. Most of that old seed probably won't sprout anyway, right?
I did that with a lot of the odds and ends of seed packets I had laying around from former years: planted what was left into nooks and crannies of my garden. In the case of the beans, I planted one bean seed next to every corn seed I planted. My idea was that the corn would provide a 'pole' for my pole beans to climb.
What actually happened was that nearly every bean seed sprouted, grew, and flourished, while not all my corn seed did as well. In one corn/bean patch, only about 1/3 of the corn (last year's seed) came up. Ironically, that was the patch where the beans did the best, so it's more of a bean jungle than a corn-and-beans-patch.
I started having harvestable beans about three weeks ago. I've been canning them in relatively small batches (4-6 pints) at a time as they were ready. Then I had to be out of town for several days, taking DD1 to college and visiting DS2 on my way home (the alternate route home, a longer route, but with DS2 smack in the middle of it). I picked and canned beans the day before I left. I could see that the bean plants were gearing up for increased production, so I made arrangements to have them picked again the day before I was scheduled to come home. My bean picker kindly filled a plastic grocery bag with beans, tied it shut, and stored it in my fridge as I requested, so I could can them upon my return.
Wednesday, I again went to the garden to harvest beans. It had been roughly four days since the plants had been picked in my absence. I expected to get about another grocery bag full of beans.
What I experienced, though, was Beanmageddon!! Two hours, four grocery bags, and an extremely sore back later, I stumbled out of the garden with my bounty of beans. Staggering to the house, I glanced over my shoulder a time or two to make sure I wasn't being followed by bean plants. Beans! Beans! Beans everywhere! I was going to be overpowered by beans!
Oh, my aching back! And picking was just the beginning. They still had to be rinsed, topped and tailed, the long straight ones made into dilly beans and the curvier or shorter or 'bug tasted' (you know, where a bug has eaten a small spot of one, but you can easily cut that spot out) beans needed to be snapped into 1.5" to 2" pieces and pressure canned.
On the upside, we won't starve this winter! We'll have lots of canned green beans!