Ruminations on legumes and locusts

This past spring I ordered seeds from Hudson Valley Seed Library, an excellent seed source I learned about a couple of years ago from a friend who lives in Australia when she surprised me with a membership (art packs are gorgeous, by the way) for my birthday. I had never tried growing beans for drying (you know the type: black, kidney, pinto, etc.) but was particularly enamored with the Dragon’s tongue beans that came with that membership. They were easy to grow, prolific, the pods somewhat exotic looking (like dragons’ tongues!) and best of all, the beans are delicious.

I ordered seeds late — it was a busy spring here — and due to some internet alchemy, was able to put through an order for the Dragon’s tongue beans even though the seed library had no more of them. After an exchange of e-mails in which the lovely Ken expressed his surprise that I was able to place an order for something they did not have and promised to send something just as good, and I expressed my deep frustration with the squirrels, rabbits and chipmunks who treat my bean bed like an exotic salad bar (mmmm, sprouts!), I ended up with two packets each of Tiger eye and Midnight black turtle beans. It appears that the aforementioned interlopers are also fond of Tiger eye bean sprouts as I was unable to harvest many of those. The Midnight black turtle beans, however, have been wonderfully prolific, and before we left for our 10 day odyssey to the northern wilds of Michigan two weeks ago, I managed to harvest dozens and have harvested dozens more upon our return.

Aren’t they beautiful? Would it be greedy to sow more seeds? Or wasteful? I may have to try with what remains in the seed packets.

A couple of carrots went to seed while we were away. I will harvest what survives of those today as well as the green beans and strawberries. The lettuce also ran amuck. And our purple-robed black locust … broke.

There is not a better word for it. Two large limbs came off, we guess during the heavy thunderstorms we missed during our travels, and we found the branches not quite completely sheared off, lying one upon the other in the narrow space between the hammock beneath the tree and the strawberry bed. Somewhat miraculously the heavy branches damaged nothing, not even our backyard neighbor’s fence.

We really have no choice but to take the rest of it down. The damage leaves it heavy on one side and the winter winds will fell it completely if we do not do it ourselves. On the bright side, a little less firewood to buy this fall. I am having a little difficulty feeling happy about that, however. We had grown attached to our little tree: its beauty in the spring and summer, the shade it provided for the hammock and for the east-facing kitchen windows on hot summer mornings, the landing space for birds shy about approaching the nearby feeder directly.

When planting seeds this spring, I found a volunteer tulip tree in an herb bed. Not wanting to kill it I moved it to a protected part of the backyard under our ancient dogwood tree. It survived the move, lost one of its two leaves and grew another. If we can find adequate space near the stump of the locust, we are planning to move the wee tulip tree there. It is a much slower growing variety than the locust and we may be long gone before it provides shade for the kitchen or the hammock, but I like the idea of nurturing this accidental life into something that might long outlast us.


About pattiblaine

Raised under the name of Snyder in the upstate NY town of Vestal, I've worked as a typesetter, a fast food salad bar tender, an art reviewer, a waitress, a part-time nanny, and a very-bad-with-phones temp. Once upon a time I was all-but-thesis toward a Masters in Art History. Now I'm just a mom with a lot of fiber squirreled away throughout the house. We call it insulation. In 2013 I completed a life-long learning program at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School, and am a postulant toward the diaconate in the Episcopal Diocese of Rochester, NY. In addition to coordinating volunteers for the soup kitchen, I volunteer as a tutor at a deeply impoverished city elementary school, and am a docent at the Memorial Art Gallery.
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