The Bean Screen

25 09 2010

Hello friends, family and accidental readers .

If you haven’t heard from us, it is because we have been working 16+ hour days, seven days a week for a solid month now. Today is my “day off” if you want to call it that. I’m only here as a form of procrastination in silent protest to the mound of work on my desk and “Laundry Mountain” on the bed.

I did do something slightly recreational yesterday and thought I would share it.

If you have visited our place, you know that we have a compulsive hoarder in the back.

Jack is an illustrious man with a colorful history and a brilliant personality. Unfortunately, he is physically and mentally ill. His compulsion to acquire and compile random objects continued until the day that he went to the hospital for back surgery. He is no longer able to live on his own and will likely end his days in a nursing home.

However, his legacy lingers in the form of the small sampling of his collection pictured below. As long as he dreams of coming back home his lot rent will be paid and his clutter will remain.


Shortly after Jack moved in I saw the writing on the wall and began to devise a solution for blocking some of the inevitable accumulation of that was sure to come.

Back in April of 2009 we built “Oasis 2”, a combined raised bed with a bamboo trellis to screen the view of Jack’s junk.


Over the past year and a half I have learned a lot about gardening. I had a good run with O2 before the nematodes and insects took hold and made it clear that tomatoes, pole beans and cucumber vines were not meant to survive long enough to climb the trellis, as I had imagined.

A trip to the beach brought my attention to a lovely wild native called Canavalia rosea maritima, also known as baybean. I became enamored by the plant’s lush foliage with its large, round, waxy leaves and its beautiful lavender flowers.


After my battles with delicate heirloom vegetables I was open to a plant that was able to thrive in the salty, sandy environment of beach dunes. I read up on the plant and learned that it is ideal as a ground cover, and is actually used as erosion control in other countries. An added bonus is that the plant produces large, tasty, edible beans that surpass soybeans in nutritional value.

As I lamented the fact that so many of my fellow Floridians do not take advantage of this local resource I discovered that Mike (our employer and friend) had picked up some beans and was growing them on trellises in his own yard. He gave me a couple of beans, which I quickly planted at the base of my bare trellis.

It didn’t take long for the baybeans to take hold and fill up the trellis. I now regret that I did not place one more bar across the top, for the plant would have gladly filled it in. That is a project for a coming day. This amazing vine has thrilled the pollinators and is threatening to overtake the whole back yard.


The biggest challenge is redirecting the tendrils so that they don’t strangle out every other plant in the garden. This is a battle that I am currently losing, due to the lack of time I have been able to spend in the garden. In the right hand side of the photo above, there is a tenacious habanero plant, which continues to present me with its spicy offerings; although they are almost invisible until they turn red.

Here is a shot of 02 in all of its messy glory. We are getting lots of peppers, and AJ has taken over most of the bed with his collection of pineapple plants. At this point, I am letting nature decide what I am allowed to grow here.


The baybean doesn’t give a hoot about nematodes, lack of fertilization, or even the fact that it has been given two five gallon buckets worth of soil to do its thing. It is growing and making beans like crazy.

Yesterday I noticed that it was time to harvest. Here is a sample.

Bay Bean

I picked a large strainer full of these massive beans and decided that I would try roasting them.

Bay Bean Harvest

Due to their large size, they were easy to shuck and yielded almost two cups worth of the biggest beans I’ve ever cooked.

Bay Beans

I experimented by tossing them in soy sauce, olive oil, cayenne pepper and garlic salt before roasting them in the oven.

They turned out good, and AJ even ate a few!


These beans are evergreen plants, so I anticipate many more harvests to come. The vines are loaded with pods which will be mature in a few more days.

Baybeans anyone?