When a child, I thought the only green bean was the Kentucky Wonder that grew up corn stalks in Granny’s and my uncle’s vegetable gardens. Wherever Dad drove us along Peter Creek on summer vacations, these Appalachian staples appeared in tidy rows nearby a house.

I loved Granny’s delicious beans “cooked down” with a ham hock and onion in the pot, served with a slice of her hot, buttered cornbread.

Every summer when Granny called Mom in Michigan and said, “Sadie, the garden’s in,” Dad drove us south with Mom’s empty canning jars in the trunk.

Granny’s garden yielded more than enough for Poppy Roy and her, their neighbors, and our family. While Mom and Granny sat under a shade tree, stringing and snapping beans and cutting corn off the cob, my sisters and I ran in Granny’s alley with neighbor children.

When we left Granny for Michigan, Dad filled his trunk with boxes of canned corn, beans, tomatoes, and bread and butter pickles. Mom rationed their labor until Granny called the following summer and said, “Sadie, the garden’s in.”

After Mom and Dad settled our family into the first house they bought on the extended G.I. Bill, Mom planted some of Granny’s Kentucky Wonder seeds along our backyard chain-link fence. She watched closely as the vines climbed and bean pods grew.

“Now, don’t you girls bother my beans,” she’d say.

“We won’t!”

Unbeknownst to my mother, the woman who lived in the house that shared our backyard fence didn’t understand the pods were beans. When her young boys pulled off a few and nibbled them, she panicked and called the City of Warren.

“Mrs. O’Brien?” asked the City official when Mom answered our doorbell.


“Your neighbor behind you has filed a complaint about what you’re growing on the fence you share. She’s concerned the vines are poisonous.”
Shocked, Mom gripped the doorknob. “Sir, those are beans. Pole beans. I grew up on them. My children eat them.”

“Nevertheless, your neighbor has filed a complaint. I’ve orders to remove the vines.”

My mother submitted.

I knew nothing of the incident until I planted my first Kentucky Wonder seeds and shared the good news with Mom. As if my crop vindicated her loss, that summer I filled my freezer with Kentucky Wonders.

I’ve since planted Greasy and Turkey Craw bean seeds that my Uncle Tab saved and dried from his harvests. As Uncle Tab is no longer with us, last summer my husband planted string-less bean seed that didn’t produce well.

However, God knew the desire of my heart. I spied KENTUCKY WONDER POLE BEAN seed packages in the grocery store this week-$6 for two 100% certified organic packages distributed by SEEDS OF CHANGE.

Dear Reader, my cousin Barry helped Uncle Herm, my last surviving McCoy patriarch, plant Kentucky Wonder seed beside rows of corn seed along Peter Creek.

I planted seed along a fence within a deer-proof fence in our backyard. I wonder who to call when the garden’s in.

Contact Iris at irisfarmletters@gmail .com.