This old nest box, measuring about 12 x 18 inches, was the perfect bean planter

I love it when a plan comes together! Arriving in the Spokane area in early June, there really wasn’t much I could do garden wise (which is pretty much a crisis for me). But I wanted to had to plant a few things. What, besides tomatoes (which is everyone’s answer), did I really love from my garden? And what did I really want to be organically grown? Green beans! (Green beans used to be on the Environmental Working Group’s list of the Dirty Dozen produce items, in terms of pesticide contamination – now they are #16.) 

So I took an old chicken nest box (built-in fertilizer) from the old chicken coop (now converted to a garden shed), threw in some sifted dirt and some broken down leaf litter, added four branches at the corners, tied together at the top, and planted some pole beans. I had no idea if there would be time in the season for them to mature. But I already had the seeds, so what did I have to lose?

The first of the harvest

And now, I have beans. Not enough to freeze like I usually do, but enough to have a few meals. I attribute this largely to the fact that every time I went out to see the plants, I said “hello beanie weanies”. They like to be talked to, don’t you know.

Below is my favorite way to eat green beans, modified from a recipe for “skillet green beans” by Cooks Illustrated. They taste best (I can’t explain why, but it really is true) if eaten with your fingers.

Skillet Green Beans

  • a bit of butter and a swirl of olive oil to equal about a tablespoon
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp all-purpose flour
  • pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves (or 1 tsp fresh)
  • 3/4 lb green beans
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • squeeze lemon juice

Heat butter and oil in skillet over medium heat. Add garlic and salt and brown garlic slightly (30 seconds to 1 minute). Add flour, red pepper flakes and thyme. Then add green beans and toss to coat. Add chicken broth, toss again, cover, and cook until beans are tender crisp, about 4 minutes.

Uncover, stir and cook an additional 4 minutes or until most of the liquid has evaporated and you have a nice sauce coating the beans. Taste for doneness. If they need more time, add a bit of water to the pan and continue to cook until beans are at the desired doneness. Off heat, squeeze on a shot of lemon, salt and pepper to taste, and parmesan cheese, silvered almonds or bread crumbs if desired. Eat with your fingers if at all possible.

Miles Away Farm Blog © 2010, where we’re miles away from a big garden this year, but enjoying the bounty one bean at a time.