The Weekend Post - Cairns Eye - - Front Page -

There are plenty of green gro­cery lines that will grow eas­ily in a gar­den, a pot or a con­tainer at this time of the year. If you like the idea of shelling peas and eat­ing them as you go, there is noth­ing more crunchy and en­joy­able than freshly-shelled peas. Like­wise, the snap and crunch of a french or snake bean straight off the bush is just as much joy.

In fact, most of these legumes will grow quickly from a sim­ple pod seed that has been poked into about a cen­time­tre of soil, then you’ll un­der­stand the idea of the story of Jack and the Beanstalk — the pen­ni­less mother, a milk­less cow, a few magic bean seeds and a gi­ant fol­lowed by some­what ill-got­ten riches.

So too, beans and peas pro­vide many health ben­e­fits of fi­bre, an­tiox­i­dants, pro­tein and a di­ver­sity in the way you can use them as a tasty food.

Bean types are pretty gen­eral, the usual french beans are what we find in su­per­mar­kets.

These grow quickly and should be picked be­fore they get too ma­ture, stringy and tough.

Others have more a nov­elty value like pur­ple beans ( that colour up to a pretty pur­ple and look great tossed into a salad or will change colour to green when boiled or heated.

Snake beans are more hardy in the trop­ics and will grow from most of the year. The name sug­gests they are long and lanky and will grow to a half-me­tre if left alone. At this stage they are too stringy and tough to chew, but good for a stew maybe.

Oth­er­wise, find a plant at the mar­ket, har­vest the seeds, dry, plant and pick when no more than 20cm long for the tasti­est re­sults.

Broad beans ( also known as faba beans, would have to be one of the great bean foods. The bush will grow to about 1.5m and needs lit­tle hor­ti­cul­tural as­sis­tance, apart from some good soils to start with.

Plant them now for a quick crop as later in the year will be too late, es­pe­cially if you’re on the coast.

Plant beans and peas as seeds as they don’t like be­ing trans­planted. Death is a cer­tainty in most cases so work out the best spot.

Peas are sim­i­lar in get­ting a crop go­ing — do it now. They will need a trel­lis of a teepee-style of sup­port and like reg­u­lar wa­ter.

Look for ‘delta matilda’ va­ri­eties if you can get them, or sim­ply dry the seeds or peas from a few pods from the su­per­mar­ket be­fore plant­ing and you’ll have a crop in no time. Beans and peas are good chil­dren’s crops as it hap­pens quickly — as Jack dis­cov­ered in the beanstalk story.

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