• Sofias Country Gardens

Beans, beans, beans...



As you probably know most gardeners are obsessed with the weather, and I am no exception although I try to keep a positive frame of mind even when it is not perfect.

After a very dry and sunny spring, most of June and July had weeks of rainy spells interrupted by a few days of glory sunshine. Actually this was perfect for the garden; with enough rain it grew lush and and bountiful!

I love beans as they are filled to the brim with important vitamins and minerals. As my daughter is vegan I try to ensure she eats diet balanced in important nutrients, which is of course helped by me providing a selection of tasty alternatives.

Green beens have been found to contain high amounts of carotenoids (including beta-carotene, violaxanthin, lutein and neoxanthin) and flavonoids (including quercetin, kaemferol, catechins, epicatechins, and procyanidins) that have all been shown to have health-supportive antioxidant properties. Also, fresh beans supply a good amount of healthy fibre to the digestive system.

Personally, I find that fresh beans are much gentler on the stomach than beens that have been dried. I usually just boil them for five minutes or so, until tender but not so much they are too soft, and eat them with a drop of olive oil and lemon juice.

I love purple french beans and this year I have "Purple queen" in my garden. They have such pretty flowers and look amazing when raw. A bit of a let down is that they revert back to green when boiled, but the good news is the beta-carotene that gives them their colour remains. This is great as apparently this is one of the most healthy antioxidants there is.

Not only I but also the bumblebees love our broad beans! They have lovely large white flowers and at any one time they are covered with all sorts of bees.

After flowering these beans are super troopers in the kitchen garden, robust and dependable with a steady and good crop. When they are young the whole bean can be used, which is quite common in the Spanish kitchen, but I prefer to wait until they are succulent and swollen to perfection. I leave the shells to the compost and only take the beans, and again I only cook them just enough to be tender and serve with olive oil and lemon juice.

Sometimes, especially when my mother is visiting, I will drench them in freshly made garlic butter and use them as an accompaniment to a really good steak!

This year - as always - there was not room enough for everything I wanted to grow and so I planted dill in-between the rows of the broad beens. Dill grows quite fast, and so I planted it only after the beans had already established themselves. I use dill with everything in summer; with new potatoes and salmon, cut into tiny pieces as garnish on sandwiches and quiche, and of course as an accompaniment to crayfish once the season begins!