A Comeback Story

August 16, 2008 at 11:15 am 10 comments

Fresh beans

Growing your own food has a lot of joys.  Nothing tastes as good as a tomato plucked from the vine and immediately popped in your mouth.  And it’s hard to be beat the feeling of satisfaction of seeing a boring blank plot of dirt become lush with vegetable plants over a few short months.  Those of us that are twisted enough even find a genuine sense of accomplishment after each weeding session as we look back along the tidy rows free of would-be competitors for our precious plants’ water and nutrients. 

But what most of us that grow our own food think about the most are the frustrations, or rather the “challenges”, because there are always a lot of them every season.  In my garden this year, I’ve had to battle with flea beetles on my eggplants that distort their leaves and make them less productive.  I’ve had squirrels come in and strip every last ear of beautiful popcorn off the corn stalks in just a few hours.  The pepper plants have a disease, phytophthora blight, that has stunted their growth and production.  My poor summer squash succumbed with squash vine borer in a display of withering agony. 

garlic and marjoram

I realize listing out all of those problems with vegetable production probably isn’t the most appetizing subject to choose for a food blog.  But I wanted those of you who don’t get the chance to grow vegetables to know a bit more about some of the struggles associated with it.  Many of the insect pests would be easier to control if I used insecticides, but that’s not really an option in my book.  So you do what you can to negate their affects naturally and do your best to develop a zen attitude towards nature’s ying and yang.  Fun fact for you – less than one percent of all bugs are considered pests by definition.  How many of you would have guessed a percentage closer to 90?  Sometimes it feels like that!

In the vegetable world, just like in our world, there are inspiring “human interest” stories full of courage and defiance of the odds (can you tell I’ve been watching my fair share of the Olympics?).  In my garden this year, that story happens to lie in my bean patch. As alluded to in an earlier post, Mexican bean beetles were infesting my lovely tri-colored mix of bush beans throughout the month of July.  Despite my best efforts to flick them off one by one, the larvae, bright yellow hairy egg-shaped fellows, took big bites out of the bean leaves until they were skeletal looking.  With so little leaf surface, the bean plants’ ability to photosynthesize was seriously compromised.  The bean crop was slowed and rather deformed to the point that I decided I’d just pull the plants out and cut my losses. 

Beans ready to roast

I left for a long weekend and came home to a surprise in the bean patch.  The larvae had all apparently completed their metamorphosis into adults and flown away.  Free of these pests, my bean plants had immediately sprung back, producing more straight and healthy beans in just a few short days than they had in two full weeks.  I gave them a good long drink of water and let them in the ground for a few more days to see what they’d do.  Sure enough, they’re looking healthier each time I go out to the garden. 

So, while there are already plenty of string bean recipes on the blog, here’s another one to celebrate the late-in-the-season success of my underdog beans.  Roasted String Beans are very easy and a nice change of pace from the more standard steamed or sautéed side dish on the dinner table.  Roasting the beans brings out a caramelized flavor with a salty kick that’s quite addictive.  If you have kids that haven’t quite accepted this vegetable yet, I’m willing to bet they’ll take a few willing bites of these.

Roasted String Beans


Roasted String Beans

1 lb. fresh green beans
3 large cloves garlic, crushed and finely minced
1 t.fresh marjoram leaves
1/2 t. fresh rosemary, finely minced
Salt and pepper
2 T. extra virgin olive oil
1 T.freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Prepare the green beans by washing and removing the stem ends and any bad spots.

Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a lipped baking sheet with foil.  Place beans on the sheet and sprinkle with garlic, marjoram, rosemary, salt and pepper.  Drizzle over the oil and use your hands to toss until everything is evenly coated.  Roast in the oven for 20-30 minutes until golden and tender. Take out of the oven and sprinkle with cheese.  Serve immediately or at room temperature. 

(serves 4)

Beans served


Entry filed under: Purely Vegetables, Recipes. Tags: , , , .

The Unthinkable For the Locals :: Black Olive Opening

10 Comments Add your own

  • 1. De in D.C.  |  August 16, 2008 at 9:55 pm

    I love roasting vegetables like that. I do the same treatment with brussel sprouts and cauliflower (though usually finish with a splash of acid instead of the cheese).

    It’s so exciting that your beans came back better than ever! I’m dealing with a monster tomatilla plant that has so totally overshadowed anything in its path that all my tomatoes are dying off, yet the darned tomatilla doesn’t seem to be setting fruit! It seems irrational of me to keep this giant that is killing everything else, but yet I hope that I will get something in the end for all its efforts. It’s always something with gardens, isn’t it.

  • 2. Megan  |  August 17, 2008 at 10:55 am

    Found your blog via Smitten Kitchen, and I’m so glad I clicked over!

    I tried a small 4′ square foot garden this year and was so pleased with the results until my tomato plants were ravaged by deer overnight just as they’d begun to put fruit out. I’d hoped the plants might recover but I think tomorrow I’ll dig them up and replant the space with leafy greens and other things that can tolerate our soon-to-be cooler temperatures.

    Your string bean recipe sounds delicious — I’m filing it away for future use.

  • 3. Jennie  |  August 17, 2008 at 11:28 am

    De – Wow, that’s a tough choice…tomatillos or tomatoes…I’d probably opt for the health of my tomatoes, but I’m a bit biased. 🙂 You could give the tomatotillo giant a serious haircut to help with shading. Just cut off some of its side branches that don’t have any fruit (sounds like there wasn’t any yet) or loads of flowers. I trim my tomato plants in this manner all season long. Gotta keep those plants in line, right? 🙂

  • 4. Jennie  |  August 17, 2008 at 11:30 am

    Megan – Welcome! So glad too that you clicked over, although I know how hard it is to leave Smitten Kitchen. 😉 Sounds like you’re familiar with the ups and downs of the veggie patch. I agree with your replanting strategy. Might I recommed trying some mustard greens if you haven’t already? They’re great for fall dishes and now’s the time to get the seeds started if you’re in the Northeast.

  • 5. staceychev  |  August 17, 2008 at 2:29 pm

    Hey Jennie! I love your blog and think of you every Sunday when I shop at the Weavers’ Way stand at Headhouse. Anyway, so glad your beans bounced back. I just sowed some fall crops in my sad little garden… I’m not giving up til there’s snow on the ground, despite losing probably 10 tomato plants and not getting to beat the squirrels to one tomato! Anyway, just wanted to comment on your recipe–give fennel a try next time you roast string beans. It’s awesome!

  • 6. Jennie  |  August 17, 2008 at 8:51 pm

    Stacey – Thanks so much! I’m sorry I missed you at the Headhouse Market. I’ve been the the past two weeks but not today. However, the flower arrangments are always my work (done at dawn). 🙂 So glad to hear you’re being persistent with the gardening. Aren’t the squirrels the darndest furry critters? They drive me nuts! I love roasted fennel too! Yum! 🙂

  • 7. parsnipsaplenty  |  August 18, 2008 at 11:18 am

    Gorgeous pictures! I don’t know why I’ve never roasted green beans before, but now it seems the only option for tonight’s dinner. Yum.

  • 8. Sarah  |  August 22, 2008 at 10:29 am

    Hey Jennie! Joe and I made this green bean recipe with a roasted chicken and some leek mashed potatoes, and they were AMAZING. We used purple beans and subbed some sage from the herb garden for the marjoram. This is definitely going into my ‘easy weeknight veggies’ repertoire!!

  • […] Roasted Green Beans (Straight from the Farm) […]

  • 10. Heather  |  November 23, 2009 at 8:34 am

    You won’t be able to get rid of that tomatilla plant! I planted one 12 years ago, the fruit was sparse for about 2 years, but it kept coming back and spreading (even left it out to freeze over the winter!) now it gets tons of fruits, but it has taken over it’s patch!


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