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.