I picked the Hutterite beans tonight. Did I mention it had been ridiculously rainy while I was gone?

Hutterite beans

This is what I got. The plants themselves had seemed mostly gone because they were tangled, matted to the ground, and spoiling.

The thing is, I planted these knowing that all I had to do was let them grow to maturity. No continual picking, no fancy supports, no nothing. Just keep them reasonably weed-free and watered and let them go. And I did. I didn’t give them a thought all summer until a couple of days before I left, when I realized that a lot of the pods were yellow and dry and they were ready to pick. But, I figured, what difference would a few days make?

Tonight, I picked every pod I could find, smooth and yellow or black and moist, and shelled them. I got 4.25 ounces of beans I would consider suitable for eating or saving for seed. Enough to plant some next year and maybe make one batch of soup this year. Most of them were unsuitable. Some were mushy or rusty; but most of them had sprouted. Yes, sprouted. My poor low-hanging beans that I let sit too long on the plants got too wet, germinated, and began to grow.

Hutterite beans, shelled

I pulled up all but one of the bean plants I planted in the spring. (The last still had a flower on it.) But that patch is not empty, because some of these beans that sprouted over the past week tumbled out of their pods and found dirt, and some of them are actual plants now. I couldn’t believe it.

I’ll plant more of the rejected, sprouted ones tomorrow (because what else am I going to do with them?) and maybe they’ll make it to at least green beans before the end of the season, but even if they don’t, they’ll be a welcome reminder of the resiliency of life–not to mention the stupidity of me. If the lesson here isn’t “Never go away for a week in the summer,” it’s probably “Don’t ignore your plants, dummy.”