Sunday Scribblings: Picking Green Beans-Be Practical and Remember "Slippery When Wet"

The Sunday Scribblings word this week is slippery. You can find other posts here.

The sun room always felt cool in the early morning. The north windows framed Grandma West’s garden. With precision the straight rows yielded rosy Early Girl tomatoes, pale green sugar peas vining on string supports, and curly Red Sails leaf lettuce ready to harvest. The deep green color of the zucchini plants contrasted with the smaller beet plants just getting a start. Closer to the back fence was a mixture of colors in the flower garden. My eye caught the deep pink cosmos contrasting with the pale yellow gladiolas as they glistened with welcomed dew.

Grandma said morning was the best time of day to pick green beans. From that sun room window I observed her daily ritual. As she gently pulled the ripe beans off the sturdy vines I was drawn to her hands. “When you garden you must be practical,” she explained to me the day before. Practical meant short trimmed nails, clear polish if any, rings left in the dish on the dresser, and no gardening gloves. “No gardening gloves because you must feel the beans with your bare hands to decide if they are ready to pick”, she added in our earlier conversation.
The second daily ritual was wearing sensible gardening shoes. Grandma always explained how the garden soil is slippery when wet. “You need to have shoes with treads that keep you standing,” she would chuckle, “ I would hate to fall on my tomato plants.”

I left that sun room to greet my grandma. Knowing I am the one always known to slip whether the ground is wet or not I walked with care. A question brought her back to the present. “How can you tell when the beans are ready to pick?” I inquired. She was stroking another bean pod as she snapped it from the vine, dropping it with a ping into the rusty galvanized bucket.
“Well now”, she said slowly,” it certainly won’t make you sick. Green beans are good for you. It will put hair on your chest! Come help me pick a mess for dinner, but be careful. The garden soil is slippery when wet.”

As I walked gingerly to her garden post I began pulling the beans off the vine. I turned back to this practical gardener and asked, “Why would I want hair on my chest? I am a girl Grandma!”

Grandma’s Fresh Picked Green Beans
Pick a mess of green beans (judge amount by people served).
Snap the beans in smaller pieces and remove strings if necessary.
Place beans in a pot. Cover the beans with cold water. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for forty-five minutes. Drain liquid.
Add crisp fried bacon pieces and toss in a small amount of the bacon grease. Serve warm as a side dish.


  1. Ah -- grandma's good advice... and great beans... ;)

  2. Your memory of Grandma West's garden, its arrangement and the colors, is not only impressive, it makes that place I paid too little attention to,come alive. I didn't know you and Grandma had these gardening talks. Guess I was too busy reading about the priest in Shanghai with 22 and 3/4 inch fingernails in Ripley's Big Book of Believe it or Not!

    It's a great post. The details and the way you portray Grandma works beautifully.

  3. I can't remember the last time I had green beans and bacon. It sounds so good, my mouth is watering. How wonderful that your Grandmother took the time to teach you a thing or two about gardening.

  4. Beautiful post and memory. My Grandma didn't garden but she taught me how to sew.
    I'll come by again.

  5. I love this image of the gardening Grandma. It's so interesting how she could tell the beans were ready by their feel, not how they looked. That shows a real sensitivity to these plants. :)

  6. I can't tell you how much this reminded me of my grandma and her beans! She cooked hers the same way ~ I can still smell those beans cooking all day long with that good bacony scent :)

    A "mess of beans" for dinner was a summer time staple for us - along with tomatoes, and homemade bread.

    Great post!

  7. Yum--nothing better than green beans cooked with bacon...a specialty of both of our grandmothers. What a wonderful post. Whenever I think of Grandma West's garden, I can still smell than dark, black volcanic soil that she grew all her vegetables in. Do you have phone lines yet? See you tomorrow.

  8. Rob: I agree. Good advice and great beans! I wish our beans would grow faster.
    RP: Mom helped me with some details of the garden, but I remembered most of it.
    Pinehurst: When I smell bacon I always think of her beans. Yum!
    Sarala: Thanks for stopping by. I think if I would have been patient Grandma would have taught me to sew. I regret not learning.
    kg: I think my passion for gardening came from Grandma.
    Becca: We also had tomatoes. The only reason we didn't have bread it because it was so hot. What a combo... beans and bacon.
    SVG: The sight and smell of her soil is vivid. Maybe we could beg Mom to cook a mess of beans with bacon this week.(:

  9. pick a mess
    I remember that term. Mom always sent us out to the garden to do that.

  10. Pamela:
    I guess I will have to research where the term comes from!

  11. I eat fresh beans this way every year - but have to have onions in them, too! The peas never make it to the table, I eat them raw, but I LOVE beans cooked this way.

  12. I loved reading this and it brought back some wonderful memories plus one I hadn't thought of for years. I lived with a farm family my sr. yr of high school and the mom would make a sort of German thing with her green beans: bacon, vinegar cooked in the grease and all tossed w/the beans. Thanks for reminding me.
    Lovely images,as always.
    p.s. my lovely tomato plant has a fungus. . .aarrrggg

  13. Sorry it took me so long to stop by! I've been enjoying all your posts and must say I'm in love with annie! Wonderful blog!

  14. Jackie, I have never tried them with onions. Sounds great.
    Noni: Isn't it amazing how green beans can bring back such memories. I am sorry about your tomato... they seem finicky sometimes.
    Welcome Tammy: I love Annie also. Isn't she a beautiful dog? Thanks for stopping by. I am glad you enjoy my blog.


I always enjoy reading comments!