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September 25th 2009

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    Last year Asparagus Beans grew in the vegetable garden.  They dominated the emotions of late summer into Fall because Stink Bugs loved them.  This year Asparagus Beans are dotted around in those places that lie outside of the vegetable garden.  These are places which in late Spring of this year gave someone an appearance of requiring Asparagus Beans.

   The plant itself is a willful climber with a bloom that looks more like a pea than a bean.  It has large leaves that contain a rich green.  It is one of those plants that suddenly decides life is worth living.  And it is one of those plants that delights in disturbing order.  

   Last year I thought of Asparagus Bean as a crop.  I put them in a neat row against the West fence.  Soon after sprouting they began a campaign to encourage Stink Bugs.  By late summer there were a couple of beans well nibbled by pestilence.  I got the impression then that these were disgruntled plants and was ready to pull them up.  But the plants appeared to recognize my intention and overnight this neat row of Asparagus Beans developed willfulness.  Quickly they grew, and many beans came streaming from them.  But each bean had fault, because each bean had bonded too frequently with Stink Bugs and grasshoppers and caterpillars and I recall one pretty little snail.

 

    I once worked for a woman who had been a doctor in China prior to the Second World War.  Peasant vegetable gardens had impressed her.  They grew vegetables neatly in an apparently random way.  A cabbage here, a bean there, and radish everywhere.  Unless they were planting rice, the idea of row seemed alien to a Chinese vegetable gardener.  But, my employer told me, there was a knowledge behind this planting technique that came from a generational relationship with plants.  In the Chinese peasant vegetable garden the older women always knew when to plant, what to plant and where to plant. 

    Asparagus Beans came originally from these tiny scraps of land that for so many centuries sustained Chinese peasants.  And this year, here in Kentucky, the Asparagus beans are healthy, happy and without pestilence.  Each bean appears perfect and they are crisp and delicious.  Vainly I look for Stink Bugs and grasshoppers and caterpillars amongst them.   There appear to be none.  And here I wish I was exaggerating.

    I did not choose the locations of Asparagus Beans this year.  If I recall correctly my opinions were registered and then wisely ignored.  And if I recall correctly during the planting process I curled my lip on more than one occasion.  All of which teaches humility.

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tim candler

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(Stink Bugs)