Last night at the Santa Monica Library, where I was giving a lecture on organic vegetable gardening, someone asked what my biggest gardening mistake has been so far. Well, there are about a hundred to choose from, but the one that stood out is a mistake that’s going on in my garden right now.
See, I knew what bush beans were, and I knew what pole beans were, but I didn’t exactly know what “runner” beans were until now. I planted Italian heirloom Cannellini beans about as far away from my trellis as possible, thinking that they were more of the bush variety – not needing a trellis to grow. Boy was I wrong, but there’s a reason for my confusion – This isn’t the first time I’ve grown this particular variety of Italian heirloom Cannellini beans.
A couple years ago, I planted these same seeds and they were destroyed by gophers before they could ever produce so much as a pod. During that short life-span, however, these beans seemed to hold their own with the need for trellising at all. This year, for some reason (knock wood) the gophers have left my garden alone and now I’ve got runner beans taking over the place. Not that I mind; these plump white beans are going to be the star of my Italian Rustic Bean Soup recipe this winter.
So what does it look like right now? I’ve got my trellis with cucumbers trailing up them, next to that (away from the trellis) I have several varieties of lettuce, and next to that I have the cannellini beans. At this point, the beans have climbed over the lettuce, blanketing them completely, and have passed the cucumbers on their way up the trellis, hitting the top and heading south again on the other side. They’re covered with flowers and pods.
Not bad for a mistake, huh?