Odd Thoughts

Odd Thoughts: Beans counter good gardening

There are surprising parallels between beans and politicians.

A garden is sort of like a democracy.

You have to tend your garden constantly. If you slack off for too long — if you don’t pay attention — it will be taken over by weeds and a whole host of other assorted pests.

The beans in your garden are a lot like the politicians in a democracy.

Beans produce generous amount of nitrogen fertilizer, which keeps their own soil fertile but is similar to a high-quality manure, and can also feed other plants around them.

But make no mistake about it, any appearance of generosity is incidental: beans make that nitrogen to feed themselves first, and any advantage shared is exactly like Ronald Reagan’s trickle-down economics.

That nitrogen production notwithstanding, you have to provide beans with appropriate nutrition, water, etc., to keep them producing what you want, when you want, and in quantities that make them worth having around in the first place.

But be careful you don’t overfeed them, or they’ll grow big, beautiful leaves, while producing nothing of value.

Interestingly, the parallel between beans and politicians doesn’t stop there.

For instance, if you turn up the heat in the garden, individual beans start taking care of themselves to the exclusion of all others.

That’s especially true of pole beans — the ones that grow up to position themselves above everything else in the garden.

When it gets too hot — right around about the temperature where you start to notice that you’re not really comfortable in the garden yourself — the beans that are biggest start to send out signals to stop production of any new beans. Young, vulnerable beans — the newbies that lack the experience it takes to send out those special signals — begin to shrivel and fall away.

Indeed, if you leave any beans on the plant too long, they’ll start sending those same signals. Just one bean that’s gotten too old will stop the entire plant from flowering and producing healthy young beans to keep the garden fruitful.

And here’s something that makes them even more remarkably similar to politicians: you can’t straighten a crooked bean.

Once a bean gets bent, it’s bent for the rest of its life, right up to the time you trim the ends and throw it into hot water.

Nearly all beans start out straight. But if their natural growth is impeded in any way, they quickly bend to an easier path.

And there is nothing that even the most diligent gardener can do about it.

You can remove the impediment, but it won’t return the bean to its former straight self.

You can even try to set it on a new, straight and narrow path.

Your effort might very well result in breaking the bean.

But the bend won’t get unbent.

The kink won’t be unkinked.

A crooked bean remains a crooked bean forever.

Unfortunately, too many of our politicians know beans.

And too many gardeners in the garden we call Canada haven’t been paying due diligence to their responsibility for tending the garden.

The condition of the garden — and the quality of the beans — directly reflects the efforts of the gardener.

There’s a lot of work to be done, folks.

It’s time to get out the hoes and rakes, if we’re going to save this garden.


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