“Magic” half runner beans harvested from the Chapmans’ garden. Photo by Lewis Chapman.

By Jeana T. Chapman

If I hadn’t sold my fish, I’d have never got my magic beans. We were selling art at the Damascus Farmers Market last spring when a fellow vendor was kind enough to buy a large painting of fish from us. To my utter amazement and thrill, she paid fifty dollars for it. Well, there I was with actual cash in hand and an entire farmers market full of goodies to spend it on.

I bought blue-green and brown eggs, fresh greens, embroidered tea towels, dried mushrooms and then, wanting to return the favor; I went looking for the vendor who had bought my fish painting.I found her and luckily for me she still had a few items left to sell — and they were plants. She had a couple of six-packs of marigolds, several small pepper plants and seven half runner green bean starts. I bought her out.

We’ve always kept a vegetable garden but were new to this area and hadn’t tried growing anything yet in our rich mountain soil. Our old garden was large, about 1,000 sq. ft., and full of sandy, tobacco-worn-out soil, but we managed to enrich it enough to enjoy decent harvests of a variety of vegetables.The one thing that never seemed to do well were green beans. They grew okay but ended up tasting like soap for some reason, so we used the space to grow okra instead.Our new garden is much smaller, and that’s okay with my much older back.

The soil up here looks good enough to eat, but I predicted that it would be a bit heavy and moist for the marigolds and peppers and that it wouldn’t warm up in time for a decent bean harvest. At this point in the season, our snow peas were sitting there, and our tomatoes were trying to book flights to Tampa, we might have planted them too early. I found space around the tomatoes to plant the marigolds — planted them and wished them luck. The peppers were added to the pepper bed and I made a lovely row and twine trellis for my seven new green bean babies.

Then we waited.
We weeded and watered, and fended off birds, deer, voles, coons, skunks, mice, etc. and with warmth and time grew a garden, enough to eat and enough to give away. The pepper bed was a bit too shady, but the marigolds were glorious, and my magic bean plants thrived.

We ate more, delicious messes of beans off those seven plants than seemed possible, even picking twice a day for a spell, their bounty was remarkable.

We saved plenty of those seeds, but I’m afraid to plant them because I can’t tell which ones are magic.
We’ve brought the extra bean seed to the Tomahawk to share with any lucky reader that wants to pick some up — maybe you’ll get the magic ones.