Mrs. Green Beans

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Mrs. Green Beans
Total Time 2 to 3 hours Ages all-ages

With her bean-vine skirt and hair that really grows, our garden guardian is proof that this summer's hot color is definitely green. Plant your seeds at the end of May (or whenever the time is right where you live), and you'll see a full skirt of foliage by mid-July. As if good looks weren't enough, Mrs. Green Beans offers the bonus of a three-month harvest. My daughter and her friends loved hunting through the vines for the ripening beans and brought me fistfuls nearly every night. Wonder of wonders, they even ate them.

What you'll need

  • Spade
  • Fertilizer (check with your garden store for recommendations)
  • 2 garden stakes, one 48 inches high and one at least 72 inches high (you can also use straight branches)
  • Eight 72-inch garden stakes
  • Garden wire
  • Button-down shirt and scarf
  • 2 sticks, each at least 5 inches long
  • Craft foam and Elmer's Stix All glue
  • 8-inch-diameter terra-cotta pot
  • Potting soil
  • 2 to 3 pre-started plants with showy foliage, such as dusty miller or gazania
  • 1 package of pole bean seeds (we used Blue Lake)

How to make it

  1. For this project, you'll need a sunny patch of earth that's about 4 feet square. Loosen the soil to a depth of 8 to 12 inches with a spading fork or hand cultivator and add fertilizer. (If possible, fertilize two to three days before planting seeds.)

  2. Mrs. Green Beans: Step 2

    Drive the taller stake into the center of the plot to a depth of about 12 inches. To form the frame for the skirt, push the garden stakes into the soil in a circle about 2 feet out from the center pole, slanting them inward, and at a depth of 10 to 12 inches. There should be a roughly equal distance between the stakes. Gather the eight garden stakes together tepee-style around the center stake and lash them in place securely with garden wire.

  3. For the arms, position the 48-inch stake horizontally about 10 to 12 inches down from the top of the center stake and lash together the two with garden wire, crisscrossing the wire around both stakes until the horizontal stake doesn't wobble. Slip the shirt onto Mrs. Green Beans' arms and button it to the top. Tie the scarf around her waist.

  4. To make a resting spot for the head, cut two sticks to about 5 inches long, then lash them on each side of the center pole, about 4 inches from the top. Using the craft foam and glue, create a face on one side of the terra-cotta pot. When the glue is dry, fill the pot nearly to the top with potting soil, then add the plants and water well. Place the flowerpot head onto the center stake by slipping the hole in the pot's bottom over the stake.

  5. Mrs. Green Beans: Step 5

    Plant three to six bean seeds around each garden stake according to the package directions. When the seedlings are 2 to 3 inches high, thin them to one plant per pole. In a few weeks' time, the young plants will begin to twine their way around the stakes, forming Mrs. Green Beans' skirt. If the vines eventually get too high, you can trim them or train them to grow back down through the skirt.

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