The beans are already reaching for the skies. So time for an update here.
My previous post 'Hill of beans, project at De Kapeltuin' shows the empty plot for my 'Hill of beans' project from 1 February till 24 April 2015. This post shows the preparation for sowing the seeds and waiting for the seeds to finally show their leaves from 8 till 22 May.
Before I could actually sow my beans, I did a lot of research about beans. In general, about the specific beans I was planning to sow, about expressions and rituals with beans.
I found out great things and with every new find, my project grew.
First explaining the title: 'Hill of beans'. Watching the classic 'Casablanca', feeling quite disappointed about this classic, I was sitting on the edge of my seat when Humphrey Bogart says to Ingrid Bergman: “Ilsa, I’m no good at being noble, but it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”.
What a perfect expression, but what does it mean.
The mundane bean has for at least eight centuries been regarded as the epitome of worthlessness. Which is really strange regarding the fact that one bean makes many. So having beans makes you in a way very wealthy (or at least not hungry).
The original sense of hill of beans was literal. For example, a book on rural affairs by one J.J. Thomas dated around 1858 used it in describing how to grow lima beans: “A strong wire is stretched from the tops of posts placed at a distance from each other; and to this wire two diverging cords from each hill of beans are attached”. A little drawing alongside makes clear that the writer is referring to the mounding along the row of bean seeds.*
The belief is that the expression 'hill of beans' comes from the fact that if you sow your seeds, your beans, and one bean doesn't grow or has a disease, the whole 'hill of beans' was worthless.
Because we still use this expression, making something so valuable for so many people in this world, sound like an unimportant thing in life, I wanted to use this as a title for my work. Showing with my 'Hill of beans', the wonderful growth of beans, their many colours and beautiful drawings and of course their nutritive value
Second, the date for sowing the beans. Beans like it warm, even so warm that they could easily be a solution to our global warming-foodproblem, so the temperature needs to be stable and no frost.
Everyone was saying I should plant them after the Ice Saints, because then there is almost no risk of ground frost anymore. Reading in on the subject, I not only found out that the day after Ice Saints was the best day for sowing beans, but it was also called 'Boondag' ('Beanday)'. I never heard of this before, but the last of the Ice Saints is the day to honor Saint Boniface. In Dutch Saint Boniface is is Sint Bonifatius. In Brabants this is easy pronounced as Boon-i-fatius, so boonman (bean-man). There are all these expressions like "Wie bonen wil eten, moet boonman niet vergeten", meaning something like "If you want beans in your place (or face), don't forget Saint Boniface", to tell you to thank this man if you want your beans to grow well. So the Feast of the Ascension, Hemelvaartsdag, became also my bean-day.**
And then I had to wait for my first beans plants to reach the surface...
8 May, second 'Fietswiel op staak' placed
13 May, organizing beans
13 May, organizing beans
14 May, sowing the seeds-day!
14 May, the beans are in the ground (somehow many pictures are made of em sowing the seeds, but I have none of them, yet)
21 May, making little bean-paintings as signs and using wooden ladles as herbs signs
22 May, added different 'noise' making objects and shiny bows to keep the birds from my beans
Replacing the plastic signs, collecting rocks and picking plants on the wrong places
The signs are in place
Detail of bean-sign for the 'Soldaatjesboon'
* More about the expression 'Hill of beans' on World Wide Words
** Information from the article 'De waarheid achter het Heilig Boontje' on the blog 'Boon in de tuin' (in Dutch)