The Beaning of Life

Adelia Ritchie, PhD
4 min readJul 30, 2020

Just had to share what’s on my mind right now. Beans. And more beans. I am inundated in beanness.

Cranberry beans, photo by author

Back at the end of February or early March, I had a moment of sheer terror (more than a moment, actually. More like 5 months now.) because my brain is always snaking around out there in the future, and what it saw out there was more than a little bit alarming. With climate change already disrupting food supplies in many parts of the world (where are all those hungry people going to go?), all I could think about was the total disruption of the food supply and starving daddies raiding neighborhood gardens just to feed their 7 screaming babies. Yes, overpopulation is one of the reasons we’re in this whole mess, but that’s another story.

Back to me cowering in the corner anticipating all my body fat melting away (wait! That’s a good thing!) in starvation, or being shot for food by some redneck asshole who’s too stupid to plan: I told my partner that we needed to plant a really substantial garden this year. (He doesn’t garden. I don’t allow him inside the fence.) He nods, not looking up from his spy thriller novel. “Bruce!!! Do you hear me? This is REAL!!” Captain Casual nods again.

Musical Fruits

So I’m freaking out. What kind of seeds to buy? How many potatoes? Carrots? Squash? Gotta plant the “three sisters” (corn, beans, squashes) because together they provide complete nutrition. We will NOT starve, I thought. And maybe we’ll have enough to give our neighbors too.

Swiss chard on the rampage, photo by author.

Pole beans, cranberry beans, and black beans — all for shelling — plus green beans, peas, pumpkins, zucchini, cucumbers (for pickles), Swiss chard, cilantro (and coriander), lovage (and lovage seed), raspberries, blueberries, strawberries, potatoes (red and Yukon gold), carrots, asparagus, artichokes, more shelling beans (it’s dangerous to go out there at night with all those tendrils vining about), onions, garlic, shallots, leeks, tomatoes (Sungold, Siberian, and my dad’s French seeds that make 2-lb tomatoes), and every herb you can name. Yes, including saffron and tarragon and bay leaves. Oh, and peppers (3 kinds) and tomatillos. (Did I mention lettuces…

Adelia Ritchie, PhD

Science lover, contributing editor at, veggie gardener, expat