Cooking Green Beans

Cooking green beans is a cinch, but first, if you want them really delicious and healthy, then think about growing them too. They are the simplest veg to grow. You put a seed in the ground and come back six weeks later, and hey presto, you have a mountain of fruit.

Bush beans have the advantage in that they are quick. You'll have a crop in about six weeks. So, bush beans is the choice way of growing beans in early spring.

For me, rather though I'll grow pole beans.

Or, as we call them in Africa, climbing beans. You'd be astonished at the crop you'll get off just three or four poles.

Not enough for a green bean casserole, three bean salad recipe, bean dip recipe and the like, but sufficient for one person.

Pole beans bear much longer too, and if you get unexpected heavy rain they don't get mildew. Just plant two or three seeds every week.

But for our family, I plant three times, perhaps fifty beans at a planting. We eat them morning, noon and night through the summer. They are staple in our lives in an attempt to reduce our need for red meat for protein. 

You need either a fence or three poles in the ground, as in a teepee. Pole beans grow tall, so preferably more than six feet high.

Beans are tremendous food, rich in protein and carbohydrate, but to get full value, you need some compost. Preferably quite a lot. Start by digging a trench and filling it with whatever garden and kitchen waste you have. First prize, if you have the space, is making a compost pile for yourself but growing beans don't really require well rotted compost.

They're not fussy, but if you want quality beans, find or make the compost. It's good for the environment too if you can use all your kitchen waste in the garden. Potato and banana peels, egg shells, beet skins, old flowers, grass cuttings; all the organic material.

No cooked food though in the compost heap; put them into the worm farm. If you haven't started one, now is the time; it means no food for rats, plenty of liquid manure and a surplus of creepy crawlies for your garden and, if you keep them, the hens. 

Some of the best compost comes from decomposed logs, only it takes longer. Here's a giant pile of sticks that has come out of the jungle, that was formerly my apiary. I must have bees again, so instead of burning these sticks...

Growing Green Beans

Growing green beans is just as easy as cooking them.  Our hens have latterly contributed enormously to our eco garden, providing manure and sorting out the beetles. But beware, the birds need large amounts of protein for your eggs; they'll demolish your veggies without a chicken tractor of some sort.

Cover the compost with about 4-6 inches of soil and then make a drill about a centimetre deep. Plant the seeds about 6" apart and cover with fine soil. Growing green beans are very hardy, the roots go deep into the ground, so you don't have to fuss if you have a dry period.

Water obviously if it gets really dry, particularly around flowering time.

The other advantage of pole beans is that they are so easy to pick. With bush beans, you might require a couple visits to your chiropractor!

An aside: Whether you grow bush or pole beans, or get them from the supermarket, think about these lower back exercises. I've just seen this 82-year old lady. She came four months ago with severe pain down the front of her left leg. A pinched nerve in the midlumbar region - can you see where the vertebra has slid forwards? That's called a 'spondylolysthesis'. Long word!


She's doing these lower back exercises very faithfully she tells me. She can even garden a bit, though I'd rather she grew pole than bush beans. And asked her grandson to dig the trench for the compost. Now that's hard work... but if I can do it at 62, you could too. Might bring your Chiropractor some business if you're eighty-two!

That's assuming you're doing these lower back exercises EVERY morning before getting out of bed. I do, and I still need the odd Chiropractic adjustment from my daughter. Nice to have it in the family!

LOWER BACK EXERCISES ... only one and half minutes, and better by far than LOWER BACK SURGERY ..!

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And you thought this page was going to be all about cooking green beans. Not so, that's easy-peasy, but growing green beans and then steaming them ten minutes after you've picked them, that's first prize.

When the world wearies

and society ceases to satisfy...


This is how your growing green beans will look after about six weeks. Shooting up like Jack in the Beanstalks, and very soon the first flowers will be appearing. Those are maize plants in the background. And a few weeds need my attention.

Last year our beans were hit hard by stink bugs that stung the fruit. They are sap sucking insects; this year I'm going to try using this homemade product from white oil manufacturers that we make up; you don't need to buy it.

In your mind's eye, can you see a delicious healthy SUCCOTASH RECIPE on the table?

Cooking Green Beans

Cooking green beans is a cinch. We do top them, but don't bother any more with tailing.

Not many things more rewarding that picking the fruit of all your labour. In ten minutes, having top and tailed 'em, you'll be cooking green beans; from your very own garden.

Pour a small amount of boiling water into a pot, perhaps half a centimetre deep, bring the water hard to the boil again, and toss in the whole pole beans and put the lid on.

Assuming they are nice and young, about two minutes of hard boiling is enough. Turn the stove off, they'll go on cooking for another five minutes. Drain, retaining some of the water.

If the rest of your supper's ready, straight onto the hot dinner plates. If your cholesterol is in shape, smother them with some fresh butter. Yum.

And if your cholesterol's not in good shape? Don't take statins, no research showing they will add a day to your life (unless you've already had a heart attack). Think rather of eating foods that will lower your cholesterol naturally. It works, dinkum. My cholesterol is 4.2, and just ask Helen, I eat far more butter than is good for one. But then I do enjoy Helens 15 euro salad several times a week. And in the summer, I get plenty of practice at growing green beans. Both growing green beans (the exercise) and cooking green beans (and eating them) will keep your cholesterol profile in order.

Nitrogen fixation bacteria

Nitrogen fixation bacteria in the roots of legumes provide that vital element, for us and for all the other plants in the garden that like us are dependent on these bug for utilizing the gas from the air.

Our bodies require abundant amounts of nitrogen in our food to manufacture amino acids, the building blocks of living tissue. 

That's the beauty of legumes like growing lima beans in our gardens is they reduce our reliance on amino acids from red meat and dairy; there is now abundant evidence that animal protein eaten in excess, causes many cancers, especially when processed.

Research in Holland which has the highest rate of breast cancer in the world indicates that red meat, dairy and eggs, eaten in excess, are the main cause; and hormone replacement therapy. BREAST CANCER AND PREVENTION

Mexican bean beetle

Mexican bean beetles are a serious impediment to your desire to grow and cook green beetles. One bug will lay over a million eggs turning into Mexican bean beetle larvae, bar those taken by ladybirds and white-eye birds.

There are some green organic solutions, but it remains a serious pest.

Another serious pest is your own chickens, if you have any. They desperately need vegetable protein to lay those lovely organic eggs.

There are compromises and solutions if you want free range cage free eggs. They are loaded with omega-3, so desperately short in the average diet resulting in inflammation, pain, cancer and attention deficit.

Green Bean Salad

A green bean salad is my favourite way of enjoying this wonderful legume. It's also quick and easy.

In five minutes after cooking green beans, your vegetable protein salad will be ready for the table. Perhaps less, believe you me, I'm the one who makes it! Well, sometimes!

INGREDIENTS for your green bean salad

  • A good handful of raw green beans, depending on how many guests you have coming to lunch.
  • One or two shallots, spring onions. Or just a few slices of an ordinary onion.
  •  Freshly squeezed juice of one lemon.
  • One (or more) clove of garlic, freshly chopped.
  • A good slosh of olive oil.
  • Salt and pepper.
  • Optional: finely chopped parsley.

  • Cooking green beans as above.
  • Squeeze the lemon, pouring the juice into a glass bowl, together with a little of the water you cooked the beans in.
  • Add your olive oil, S&P and mix it up.
  • Toss in the chopped shallot and clove of garlic. Stir.
  •  Add the hot chopped, cooked green beans. Ladle the juice over the beans. 

What could be easier?

PS: We need to educate our tongues to the fact that not everything must be sweet. But if you insist, add a teaspoon of raw honey.

Make it pretty with some slices of tomato and a sprinkling of fresh parsley, and it's GRUB'S UP. Time permitting, it's good to wait for a while for the flavour of the garlic and herbs to permeate the beans.

Update: I've been experimenting with a new herb to me; it's called sweet basil and you're probably familiar with it. A few freshly chopped leaves in your cooking green beans salad make for a lovely change. Scroll down past making a correct diagnosis to sweet basil and how to make pesto.

Three bean salad recipe

Three bean salad recipe means just adding half a can of baked beans, and another of butter beans.

Here's the rest of my lunch today. I always like to add a fat (like avocado, or fatty fish) to my bread because of bread's high glycemic index. Adding fat or protein, or something like hummus which has a very low glycemic index will reduce the insulin rush that just plain bread, white or brown, gives. It's soluble fibre that slows the absorption of sugars into the blood stream. Cooking green beans are full of fibre.


A protein dish always adds to a salad, today it's just half a block of feta cheese. But perhaps a leg of free range chicken, or a few slices of mutton. What is mutton?

It's widely recognised today in nutritional circles that if you want to be happy and healthy you need at least FIVE coloured fruit and veg each and EVERY day. Frankly, I think that's far too little. We aim for ten... in my lunch today I have at least eight, can you count them? More than cooking green beans...

Anyway even if you have no desire to live to be a healthy ninety with all your marbles intact, MY LUNCH TASTES DIVINE! As we said in Holland, Eet smakelijk. Enjoy!

Red meat max once a day remember, probably three times a week max... get more protein from legumes, fish and fowl.

Phytochemical Foods

Phytochemical foods keep the big C at bay and mostly they are delicious; lightly cooking green beans is important; they are heat labile.

Beans too contain a wide array of the plant chemicals that are known to have a vital function in health; but because there are thousands of them, scientists have only begun to scratch the surface.

They make up the colouring in green beans, known as flavonoids, and it's now known that they have an important role preventing the absorption of cholesterol from the gut, for example.

They are the reason why we should be eating a minimum of five coloured foods each day; I aim for ten, if in small quantities. A sprig of parsley might count for one.

They have an antioxidant and anti inflammatory effect in the body. If you're interest, read up more about phytochemical foods. The flavonoids in beans, the lignans in flaxseed, the stanols in avodcados and olives, the terpenes, the cartonenoids, the indoles and so on; thousands of them. Make sure you are getting as many as possible by eating from a wide array of foods. Meat and potatoes man? There's trouble coming.

Save Bean Seed

At the end of the summer you'll find that there are a few pods that you have missed. This is the time to SAVE BEAN SEED for next year's crop. Save time, save money, save the planet, keep your own seed.

Growing Lemon Trees

Food lover? Then you absolutely must have a lemon tree in the garden. The Meyer lemon is the most beautiful small tree, with bright yellow fruit, scent in the Spring that is divine, and lemon juice oddly is one of the few fruits that, despite the citric acid, actually acts as an alkalising agent in the body. Taste fantastic, looks beautiful, is healthy, what more do you want? Essential for COOKING GREEN BEANS.

I've just planted my first lime tree, even nicer that the lemon my brother tells me. Growing lemon trees isn't difficult.

Dips, Pâté and Soup to go with COOKING GREEN BEANS

Few things go better with a salad than a roll with a delic dip. Try this cream cheese dip for example, and olive pate. DIPS MADE WITH CREAM CHEESE ...


GREEN BEAN AND LENTIL SOUP ... good enough for Andre Agassi, good enough for me!


Corn and beans out of a can is definitely only fit for hogs (taste-wise) but, straight from the garden, green beans and fresh corn is to die for. Healthy, full of fibre, very low glycemic index, high in protein, full of phytosterols ... plain good food. GREEN BEAN SUCCOTASH RECIPES ...


Giant butter beans are used for this delic healthy Greek dish. Other than soaking the beans overnight, it can be made in a jiffy. Healthy good stuff, high in protein, low in fat and carbohydrate ... butter beans are just dried lima beans (see more below). GIGANTES BUTTER BEANS RECIPE ...


Another wonderful plant protein can be obtained from the lima bean. It's not a legume that you'll find fresh in your green grocer, so you'll have to grow it yourself. Sufferin' succotash, this is a marvellous bean. Quite a lot of PT unfortunately, but so rewarding, if anything even nicer than pole beans. GROWING LIMA BEANS ...

Apologies if you are hunting for green bean cassarole and three bean salad recipe - a page for next summer when we have more cooking green beans. Midwinter now in the southern hemisphere.

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Benefits of Compost

Making a compost pile ...

Composting with sticks, alternatively a Compact Compost Tumbler

Broccoli Osteoarthritis ...

Potatoes love compost. We dug up to 14 potatoes per plant.

Green beans, peas and butternut will be planted along the fences.


Growing and cooking green beans