Beans, Beans The Musical Fruit

It’s early October as I begin to write this. I’ll tell you how I had the good fortune to be on the receiving end of some Jacob’s Cattle and Orca bean seeds, but first…


I’ve been out inspecting my sweet grass plants (Hierochloe odorata). I shall have harvested and dried their cascading, narrow leaves by the time you read this. Ceremonial Sweet Grass is used in traditional peace and healing rituals and the prayers speak powerful words.

I’ve also made a fresh batch of sauerkraut to tide me over the winter. It’s one of the best all-natural foods for anyone with digestive disorders. Just a heaping tablespoonful of sauerkraut daily is all it takes. (See myGrainewsarticle June 2010, p. 38 for— Shirley and Don make sauerkraut recipe).


… such as “pork and beans are good for the heart” and “pork and beans are a musical fruit” have been added to, subtracted from and tossed about for generations. By now you’ve guessed the subject matter has turned to “beans.”

My fondest recollection of phenomenal- tasting homemade pork and beans were those made by John Spencer. For many years, John brought a huge roaster filled with his homemade delicacy to Knights of Columbus monthly noon luncheons. He had a special knack for making pork and beans. Originally from Dauphin, Man., John is now retired and living a few kilometres down Saskatchewan Avenue from me.


Ralph Clark of Lauder, Manitoba arranged for the two of us to get together for a coffee at the west end Tim Hortons in Portage la Prairie. We exchanged dialogue, but I listened a lot too, as Ralph is such a great storyteller. He was passing through town this fall on his way to Winnipeg with an assortment of promised vegetables for friends. Ralph is an ordained United Church minister and although officially retired, he still does pastoral work and has taken services when called upon. He exerts himself in doing good, loves the entire human family and demonstrates benevolence. To borrow a quote from English author, poet and satirist Alexander Pope (1688- 1744) — “Thou good old man, benevolent as wise.”


Before continuing his journey, Ralph presented me with seeds of both bean varieties for planting next summer. Thank you Ralph Clark.

Jacob’s Cattle, also known as Dalmatian and Trout bean has antiquity and heirloom status. This popular kidney-shaped maroon and white bean is thought to be centuries old and a very reliable producer. It’s ideal both for baking and making bean soup.

Orca is a very rare black and white bean that’s quite striking in appearance. It is flavourful, great for baking and remains firm when cooked. Each colourful oval seed is half white and half black. Kids love this one because Orca is fun and easy to grow.

By now,Grainewsreaders are wondering: Where do I get Jacob’s Cattle and Orca beans for planting? Here are two suppliers.

1) Terra Edibles, Box 164, Foxboro, Ont., K0K 2B0; or phone (613) 961- 0654 for a 2011 print catalogue when available.

2) Eternal Seed, C5 -2309 Zilinsky Rd., Powell River, B.C., V8A 5C1; or phone (604) 487-1304.


… to sustain health and wellness and the knowledge of them are increasingly a vital part of our Canadian culture and way of life. The stories are endless.

There are very few gardeners and farmers who are not familiar with common and weedy wild burdock (Arctium lappa). It’s readily found growing somewhere in a nearby field, in the bush or along a ditch.

Carol Tozer, is a Master Herbalist in Sturgeon Falls, Ontario and operates the Massage Energy Centre there. She is well versed with the depth of burdock’s healing power and calls it “good medicine.” For centuries, a tea made from burdock root and leaves and infused in hot water has been an old folk remedy for intestinal, gall bladder, liver, kidney and gout complaints and useful as an excellent wash for skin disorders such as infections, acne, eczema and psoriasis.

According to Tozer, young leaves and flowers can also be steamed as vegetables. Stems and roots are prepared by carefully peeling away the tough outer rind; then sliced and sautéed with carrots, kale and onion.

Burdock is a biennial and takes two full years to complete its life cycle. Only leaves appear the first year without a flower stalk. During the second season of growth, burrs develop after flowering is complete. Historically, some Aboriginals harvested the root, then dried and stored it for use during winter.

Burdock gets its name from the combination of two words: “bur” for the plant’s aggressive adhesive nature and “dock” said to be an old English term for “plant.”

Those ornery, spiny seed heads with Velcro-like adhesion love to cling to socks, jackets and gloves. Animal and pet hair is not immune either. Burdock burrs even contributed to the mother of invention. Swiss inventor George de Mestral designed Velcro material to mimic the burr action of burdock. It’s been a great benefit to the garment industry.


… is known as Takinogawa Long (Gobo). Slender, smooth-skinned roots are dried, ground and roasted as a coffee substitute. Some say the taste has a delightful oyster-like flavour. Others describe it as sweet, slightly bitter and earthy. Burdock roots are as common in Japan as potatoes are to Canadians, and often found in produce sections of Asian markets.

Japanese research shows this variety has potent anti-tumour effects and acts as a blood purifier against eczema. Some of you may have heard of the Essiac formula available at health food stores and some pharmacies. Burdock is one of four herbs that make up this remedy. There is so much more to be learned about this plant.

This information should not be interpreted to replace professional medical advice or treatment. Always consult with your physician, health-care provider, herbalist, naturopathic doctor or other specialist when using herbal remedies for a health issue.

Japanese burdock seeds and started plants and fluid burdock root extract are available from Richter’s Herbs, Goodwood, Ont., L0C 1A0; phone 1-800-668-4372.


A health tool that many people don’t take advantage of anymore is a hot water bottle. Consider the following Ted Tip that I use myself. Lie in bed on your back and get ready to drift off. Place a hot water bottle at a comfortable temperature on your stomach. Now, close your eyes and at the same time breathe slowly and deeply. If you’re breathing correctly, the hot water bottle will rise and fall as your diaphragm moves up and down with each inhalation and exhalation. Nighty night now!

Most people lug around tons of tension in their abdomens. Breathing as described with a hot water bottle on your stomach will release all that strain and tightness in your abdominal solar plexus. I often talk about anatomy of the abdominal aorta just above the stomach during reflexology and Therapeutic Touch sessions.

ThisisTedMeseytontheSingingGardener andGrow-ItPoetfromPortagelaPrairie, Man.Toloveandbelovedistofeelthe sunfrombothsides.Asyoulivetoday,let yourloveandlightburnbrightlyandnever allowittoburnout.Also,learnfromthis year’sgardenandhopefornextseason. Willyoumeetmeagainnexttimealongmy Grainewsgardenpath?Myemailaddressis [email protected]

About the author


Ted Meseyton

This is Ted Meseyton the Singing Gardener and Grow-It Poet from Portage la Prairie, Man. I salute all gardeners and farmers who help make our world a little safer and more ecologically balanced, and who toil to provide health-giving produce to others who cannot produce their own. It takes all sorts to make a world. One half of the world doesn’t know how the other half lives. The best physicians are Dr. Diet, Dr. Quiet and Dr. Merryman.



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