Welcome to Cranky Puppy Farm!

This blog belongs to two Gen X-er's smackdab in downtown Kansas City where we've been renovating and decorating two old Victorians built in the 1890's. Our life is filled with 3 demanding Pomeranians (1 of them cranky, of course), honking cars, noisy neighbors and the hustle and bustle of city life but we dream of the day when we can move to our 40-acre farm and hear nothing but the wind and the cows next door. Until then, we're chronicling our triumphs and mishaps here as we try to garden and preserve on 2 city lots, raise chickens, and learn all those things we should have learned from our grandparents. Welcome to our world - we hope you'll stay awhile!

First Bean Harvest and How-To

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

First Harvest: Just shy of a pound!

Well hallelujah, we finally got a little bit of rain last night about 2 a.m.  I woke to a pretty nice lightning show and some bed-shaking rounds of thunder.  It's been an extremely quiet, dry spring and I've been missing my beloved thunderstorms, so I just had to lie there and listen for awhile before drifting back to sleep.

But I want to talk about something that happened yesterday morning instead:  we picked our first round of fresh green beans out of the garden!  A decent 0.84 lbs to be exact.  Just enough for a couple of dinners for J. and I.

And then the great debate began later in the day.  How to cook these puppies.  I wanted to saute them in 2 tablespoons of  bacon fat from breakfast with garlic and onions and then steam them in some chicken broth.  J. wanted to just saute them in butter with garlic.  So we compromised and had them J.'s way last night and then we'll have them my way tonight.  (And, by the way, they were DELICIOUS the way J. made them.)

Harvesting Green Beans

But let's not get the cart before the horse here.  If you've never grown green beans before, how do you know when the right time is to pick them? 

Generally, bush beans mature a little faster at 50 to 55 days after you plant them, and pole (or vining) beans are ready in 55 to 60 days. You'll need to check on the variety that you're growing, because it can vary widely.  We planted Early Contender and Blue Lake bush beans back on March 27th, so we're right at that timeframe. 

Once you get to about 6 weeks, you need to start watching your bean plants for flowers that will turn into tiny little bean pods.  Beans grow extremely quickly, so timing is everything.  If the pods get too large, they can become tough, so you'll want to harvest them before that happens.

Here's a good rule of thumb to remember for when most varieties are ready for harvest:

A bean is ready to harvest when it's a little fatter than a pencil.

They'll probably be anywhere from 4 to 7 inches long when they're that diameter and maybe slightly lumpy with the seeds inside.  If they are VERY lumpy, you've waited too long.

When you find a bean that's ready to pick, just grasp it firmly near the top of the bean where it connects to the plant and use your thumb to pinch it loose.  Or grasp the plant with your other hand to steady it and lightly jerk the bean upward to separate it.  Just be careful with that second method, as you can damage the plant or break the bean pod.

Do NOT harvest beans when they are wet with dew or after a rain.  They MUST be dry.  Picking wet beans can spread bacterial blight and damage or kill the plant.  Likewise, do NOT wash your beans until right before you cook or process them for canning.  Washing them will cause black spots and they will decompose quickly.

The good news is that your bean plant will continue to produce more beans as long as you continually harvest them before the seeds within the pods mature.  Just use my rule of thumb above and you'll be fine.

So now you've got a t-shirt full of green beans and a myriad of choices for what to do with them:  freeze them, can them, saute, boil in a pot of water until they're mush.  I think the best thing to do is to eat them raw or, better yet, here's the recipe for green beans done the Cranky Puppy way:

Fresh Green Beans, Cranky Puppy Style
Fresh green beans, 1 lb
2 tablespoons bacon grease**
1 cup finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper (optional)
1 cup chicken broth\stock
Salt to taste (1/2 to 1 teaspoon kosher or 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon table salt)
Black pepper to taste

  1. Wash the green beans gently.
  2. Snap the stem end off the green beans. Some folks snap both ends, but it's not necessary.  Most beans are stringless but, if you have the string variety, pull gently down on the stem end as you remove it.  You'll be pulling toward the other end of the bean to pull the strings off as well.
  3. Snap or cut the beans into the desired size pieces (or you can also leave them whole).  We usually snap them in half.
  4. Melt the bacon grease in a skillet over medium low heat.
  5. Add the garlic and onions and saute for 1 minute.
  6. Add green beans and cook until they turn bright green.
  7. Add the bell pepper, salt and black pepper.
  8. Turn to low heat and cover with a lid.  Crack the lid just enough to allow the steam to escape.
  9. Cook for 20 to 30 minutes or until the broth evaporates and beans are starting to soften.  As the broth evaporates, the onions and garlic will carmelize, giving you some really yummy flavor.  If the beans aren't yet cooked, you can add more broth as needed.

Enjoy!  I can't wait to have these tonight.... 
I'm sharing this post with this week's Country Garden Showcase, Tuesday Garden Party and Country Homemaker hops.


  1. Hey Cranky ... Those beans look good. I too, love a good thunderstorm, especially at night.

    1. It was a rip-roarin' noisy one, too. The best! Thanks for stopping by.

  2. wow alreay harvesting green beans, ours are about 2 inches high right now! great post!


    1. Hi, Debbie-

      They grow so fast, that you'll have beans in no time. Last night, I pulled more fresh strawberries and green beans. So incredible to just go out and grab stuff to eat out of your own backyard.

  3. Hey there ! Thanks for stopping by my blog and making a comment about the bee issue. So glad I checked on your blog. Its downright marvelous. I will so be back!

    1. Wow, thank you so much for your kind words. I'm glad you stopped by also, Donna. I love reading what other people are doing, and I've already got your blog on my reading list.

  4. Oh, lucky you to have beans already! Ours are still just a twinkle in our eyes... :-)

    1. Beans grow so fast...just wait until tomorrow and you'll have them. *laugh*


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