This summer we decided to grow some herbs in our apartment. Sweet and Thai basil, oregano, parsley, mint, and… beans?
I chose bean seeds on a lark. I wanted to try to grow a few bean plants, even though beans are not too space-efficient when it comes to indoor gardening. Realistically, the best I can hope for is that my harvest will provide a fresh side-dish for one meal later this summer. People tend to laugh when the see our little bean patch, but I am undaunted.
From past experience we have found it is better to grow the plants entirely indoors, rather than putting them on the balcony periodically where they can be exposed to wind, hungry birds, and punishing afternoon sun. For herbs, this is fine, but urban apartment-dwelling vegetables face certain challenges that their rural cousins don’t have to worry about. I mean that delicate issue which might be metaphorically referred to as “the birds and the bees”, or, in this case, literally referred to as “the bees.” In other words, sex. Vegetables grow from flowers, and flowers require pollination, i.e., the male flowers have to send their magic dust to the female flowers. Outdoor veggies enlist friendly insects to help with this vital transfer, but there are no insects where my beans live.
When flowers started appearing, I realized that I’d have to midwife my little beans into existence. I googled for “manual pollination” and started reading up on how to play floral match-maker. However, it turns out that I needn’t have worried, because indoor beans are randy little creatures capable of pollinating without extra help from q-tips or delicate paint-brushes. All I need to do is stand by and wait.
And lo: the bean patch has produced its first bean.
If that bean is the only one I manage to get, I’ll still be happy with the indoor bean experiment, ridiculous as it may be. Growing things is fun.