I cannot believe how many beans I planted this year. I think I must have been planning on feeding the U.S. Army instead of 17 CSA members. To date, this week, we have picked 88 lbs. of beans and they just keep on coming. Unfortunately, the Mexican Bean Beetle really seems to like my garden because he is wreaking havoc on my bean patch for the second year in a row. My beautiful green, yellow and purple beans have been invaded by a nasty intruder.
Bean Beetles are very difficult to eliminate and often hard to identify. They are very similar in appearance to lady bugs and often go unnoticed until the damage to the plants is obvious. Options as an organic gardener are limited. as far as insecticides, so I’ve decided to take a different approach
Today, I introduced a parasitic wasp, Pediobius foveolatus, as a biological control for the Beetles. From all of the reports that I have read, P. foveolatus appears to be a very effective as a biocontrol agent, which has resulted in substantial savings to the growers in reduced insecticide costs and environmental pollution. This is my first experience with Integrated Pest Management (IPM) so I’ll keep you posted about how successful we are.
Beans (legumes) are among the oldest cultivated plants. There are more than 13,000 species of beans, which are second only to grains in supplying calories and protein to the world’s population. The common bean, which originated in Peru over 7,000 years ago, was then spread by migrating bands of Native Americans into Latin and North America.
The major health benefit of beans is that they are very low in calories, contain no saturated fats and are a very good source of vitamins, minerals and micronutrients. Green beans contain excellent levels of vitamin A, vitamin B6, thiamin and vitamin C, in addition to minerals like iron, calcium, magnesium, manganese and potassium. They are a very rich source of dietary fiber which aids in elimination and the reduces blood cholesterol levels. The high fiber content of beans also helps prevent blood sugar levels from rising too rapidly after a meal, making beans an especially good choice for individuals with diabetes, insulin resistance, or hypoglycemia.
When preparing beans, remember to remove the strings and stems before cooking. More nutrients are retained when beans are cooked uncut. Simmer or steam beans for about 5 minutes. Be careful not to overcook. I like to blanch them quickly in boiling water for about 2 minutes and then plunge them into ice water to cool them down. The beans remain tender crisp and retain their color. Unfortunately, purple beans revert to green when they are cooked.
Since garden tomatoes will be available very shortly, here's a recipe for fresh green beans, herbs and tomatoes from the "Asparagus to Zucchini" cookbook all CSA members receive when they join our CSA.
Prizewinner Green Beans with Tomatoes and Herbs
2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
1/2 cup sliced onions
2 Tbsp. fresh oregano
1 1/2 tsp. fresh thyme
1 lb. green beans
1 sprig rosemary
2 medium tomatoes cut in small wedges
salt to taste or 2 Tbsp. salted butter
Heat olive oil in a deep pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper flakes, saute util fragrant. Add onions, saute util translucent, 3-5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water, spices and gren beans. Stir, cover and steam cook beans until nearly done, approximately 10 minutes. Do not overcook. Stir in the rosemary and tomatoes. Cook very briefly until tomatoes are warmed through and beans are done. Season with salt, or melt salted butter over the beans before serving. Serves 8.
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Beech Springs Farm is a small family farm near Gettysburg, PA. The farm is open to the public by appointment only.
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