Friday, June 27, 2008

New Rules

Fordhook Lima Bean BlossomsThe lovely blossoms in this photograph belong to one of my Fordhook Lima Bean plants. Their advent means that there are new restrictions for my garden. As of this moment my brother is no longer allowed to enter this part of my garden without close supervision.

I know that to some this may seem discriminatory and even mean, but there is a very good reason for his restriction, and that reason goes back at least 27 years to a time when he and I were much younger and had been conscripted as slave labor on the family plantation. One of our many chores - and one that we hated dearly - was that of picking Fordhook Lima Beans.

Now this chore really is pretty rough. The beans don't grow very tall and it is nearly impossible to pick them by sight. You have to feel each pod to make sure that they are filled out before picking them. It is a slow task that forces you to spend what seemed like days bent over double. Add to that all of the bugs, the sweat, and the weeds that we had to pick around (we hated pulling weeds too...) and you had the makings of a task that was only slightly better than being flayed alive.

On top of that my dad always chided us for being too rough on the plants, knocking the blooms off. He explained that the blossoms were what became beans, and told us that if we knocked the blossoms off we wouldn't have any beans.

It was not fun, but somehow I survived long enough to have momentarily forgotten this horror from my childhood and plant four and ½ rows of them. There is a pretty good reason for that too - they are some of the best tasting beans that I have ever put into my mouth, and they aren't as good when bought from the grocery store.

My dad was always puzzled about why his beans produced so little. We had row upon row of them, but really never got that many beans - never enough to last until the next harvest. It was quite a mystery to be sure.

Years later the truth was revealed. One Sunday, long after we had all grown up, while sitting at the dinner table, my dad was recounting the puzzling mystery of why those beans never did any better than they did. My brother matter-of-factly stated, "Well, when you told me that the blossoms were what made the beans I started picking the blossoms off." Mystery solved. I was stunned. Such a thing would never have occurred to me!

Well, as hard as I have worked for those lima beans this year there is no way I am going to let him pick the blossoms off! Yet somehow I doubt that I'll have to worry about it.


Christopher said...

Curses! Foiled again!

Jonathan said...

HAHAHAHAHA! You'll never get away with it!