Monday 7 October 2013

Beans, beans, good for the heart

Sunday was a gloriously sunny autumn day - a fine day for harvesting! We were greeted by the vanguard of our winter visitors - the lapwings, flying overhead. First a couple of trays of "Reinette Blanche" apples from our venerable tree - many almost too big to fit in the bag of the apple picker, and unfortunately many damaged by sharp little beaks. More compote de pommes (stewed apple) coming up, I expect! This is a prime opportunity to try different flavourings and sweetenings - the first batch was straight apple and a little sugar, the second batch apple and honey, for the third there's some grapefruit marmalade that didn't set...

Next, on to the beans! We grow most of our beans from our own saved seed for winter use, in soups, cassoulets, chilis etc. This means they have to be bone dry when they go into their storage jars. Due to the late spring, they were planted late and have only just begun to get that papery texture in the pods that tells us they are ready. The bean frame is presently flaming with Borlotti "Lingua di Fuoco" (fire tongue) climbing beans, just starting to turn the dull red and then indigo of the fully ripe bean.

The bean frame, an idea copied from Majorca


Borlottis with Nun's Belly Button below (naturally)

Surrounding the base of the bean frame, Tim planted a load of another favourite - the dwarf bean "Nun's belly button". The French name is "nombril de bonne soeur" - an exact translation, although the same bean is known in French as "Saint Esprit" and in English as "Soldier".

Nun's Belly Button beans
William Skyvington, an Australian expatriate in France, has blogged about them here, although as his post is dated April 1, I'm unsure how much of his tale is a leg-pull. Be that as it may, I see the nun, or the part of her visible, as definitely a redhead, and very hairy.

Whereas Tim sees the whole nun, the other way up. That's the soldier, an English redcoat.

Spot the nun (or soldier)
Spot the soldier (or nun)

In the immortal words of my old friend Liam D'Arcy Brown (no, not the Sinologist, the other one),
Beans, beans, good for the heart,
Beans, beans, they make you f*rt,
The more you f*rt, the better you feel,
Beans, beans, with every meal!


Jean said...

Love the nun/soldier beans!
I have either never seen them before, or never noticed.

Tim said...

Jean, they are a heritage variety, not widely available. You're welcome to a handful of seeds for next year! As yiu can see from the pictures, the grow rather tall and floppy, and need support. P.