Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Yard long vegetables

The salad we ate last night for dinner featured an embarrassment of garden riches....homegrown corn, tomatoes, potatoes and beans. The color of the beans is a bit jarring, no? A nearly black component of a salad doesn't exactly bring to mind summer freshness. In their raw state, these beans are a rich maroon. They are red noodle yard long beans and they are far outpacing my pole beans.

The first red noodles appeared two weeks ago, and they have cheerily put out armfuls of long, pencil-thick beans. I have meters upon meters of maroon beans to deal with on a nightly basis. I blanched them for this salad, but they make a good stir-fry as well. The color serves a practical purpose, too: the beans are very easy to find, whereas I often miss green string beans that camouflage themselves well amongst the similarly-colored foliage.

The other big producer in my garden has been the Armenian cucumber, also known as the yard long cucumber. These are long, narrow, snake-like melons that have a taste and texture very close to a citrusy cucumber. These melons grow very quickly and, unlike my regular cukes, seem only to become more productive the hotter it gets.

I have read they don't pickle well, and we simply cannot keep up with production. I have started giving them away in zucchini-like fashion. Most of my victims are too intrigued by the novelty of a melon the size and shape of a child's arm to turn it down. Soon they will learn that one can make only so many salads and raita before calling it a day on these suckers. I have three of these plants this year, and next year I will definitely only plant one.

Yard-long vegetables are tempting to the home cook and gorgeous in their shape and size. But yards and yards of produce can be a kitchen challenge for a small family. If you plan to go the yard-long route, you better have lined up a stable of friends ready to receive August garden overflow.


  1. I was on the neighborspace garden tour this past weekend and it looks like every community gardener in Chicago was suckered into buying those Cardinal Climber seeds. It was growing in so many plots and gardens across Chicago that I didn't regret not sowing my seeds.

    I saw a lot of these yard long beans too.

  2. Yeah, those cardinal climber seeds have been a disappointment -- very leafy and minimal flowering. I've noticed them around too! They've totally invaded my bean trellis - I forgot how they spread. My best flowering vine this year has been moonflower.