Our Garden's Blessings

Senior Reader
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Every year we plant a garden.  Every year, if we get enough rain, our garden blesses us with squash, onions, potatoes, sweet corn, butterbeans and other crops that will feed our family for the next year.


This year's garden has been no exception.  This past week the butterbeans were ready. 


Brooks picking.jpg


This is My Farmer picking butterbeans.  Picking goes by faster when you are listening to music.  Country?  Hip Hop?  I'm not sure what his butterbean picking playlist was. 




The plants were loaded with butterbean pods.  We picked 5 1/2 buckets and there was still one row of plants, waiting patiently to be picked. 


Turns out picking is the easy part.  Then comes the shelling.  I have memories of shelling butterbeans with my grandmother when I was young so I always get nostalgic this time of year.  Then I start shelling and the nostalgia gives way to sore thumbs and broken fingernails.  Seriously, this is one reason this farm wife doesn't get manicures.  Now pedicures....those are a different story.


2inside pod.jpg


You never know what you will find inside the pod...1 butterbean...3 butterbeans.  Or very tiny butterbeans from a pod that wasn't ready to be picked.  I guess I got carried away while picking.  That can happen while jamming to Heart.


So 7.6543 days later we were finished shelling.  It really only took two days but it felt longer.  I now know the true meaning of "green thumb".  Mine is still green from shelling and still hurts.  I guess next year I need to find an exercise program to get my thumbs ready for the marathon of shelling.



After we shelled, we rinsed.  Then it was time for blanching.  Now, before I met My Farmer and learned about putting up butterbeans from his grandmother the only blanch I knew about was Blanche on The Golden Girls.  This blanch is not nearly as high maintenance but does involve every pot I own and some borrowed ones.




I pour the butterbeans in boiling water and let them boil for 5 minutes.  When I can cut through a bean with my fork, it's ready.  Just realized I forgot to get a picture of that step.  This photography while cooking is hard business!


2cool after blanch.jpg


Next I drain the butterbeans before pouring them in an ice water bath.  This cools them down quickly so I don't have to wait so long before I can freeze them.  The key here is to keep the cat from drinking the water.  I missed getting a picture of that too, but let's just say we had to move the pot (my canning pot) to keep Isabelle from confusing it with her water bowl.  Her bowl is much smaller but one never knows what a cat is thinking.


Anyway, I'm getting off subject.  After the butterbeans cool down, we drain them again, and then it's time to bag them. 


2 people picking for 2 hours.

5 buckets of butterbeans

8 hours of shelling over 2 days.

Blanching, draining, cooling, draining and finally bagging




19 bags of butterbeans in the freezer.  It seems like there should be three times that many.  Produce is a lot of work but will be worth it when My Farmer can have butterbeans with vinegar all year long.  This should have ended my culinary experience for the day but it didn't.  There were squash with my name on them.




I have been putting up squash for two weeks.  That is no exaggeration.   I told my husband after he brought these home that the squash plants were going to meet an untimely end.  I am going to sneak out to the garden in the middle of the night and ...well in the interest of not incriminating myself let's just say I've put up my last squash for the year.


What's coming out of your garden? 

1 Comment
Senior Reader

I love your style and now I'm very very hungry for butter beans!!!!

About the Author
Anne has worked in agriculture since she was old enough to sweep the floor of the family machine shed. She writes about rural & outdoor life from the most remote county seat in the Lower 48, where she and her husband chase two children. Her experience ranges from picking apricots in 100 degree weather and working with Hutterite colonies, to discussing ag trade with the Ambassador of New Zealand and judging cured meats.