“Did you do it?” his little girl wanted to know. “Did you upside down my beans, Daddy Blake?”
“No, Mother Nature did that for you, Mab.”
“Then I don’t like Mother Nature!”
“But she had to,” explained Daddy Blake. “All the beans I know anything about grow that way. After the bean is planted the heart or germ inside starts to sprout, and sends the root downward. At the same time the leaves begin to grow upward and they take with them the outside husk of the bean which is of no more use. The plant wants to get rid of it, you see, and as there is no room under ground for it, where it might be in the way of the roots, the leaves bring it up with them. For a time after the bean has been pushed out of the ground it keeps the tender leaves from being hurt. Then the bean dries and drops off—that is all that is left of it, for the germ, or heart, has started growing another plant, you see.
“So don’t worry, Mab. Your beans are all right, even if they do seem to be growing upside down. That is the only way they know. From on your beans will grow very fast.”
And so they did. Daddy Blake told the children that beans are ready to eat sometimes within six weeks after the seeds are planted. The beans are not ripe, of course, and some are green, while others are yellow, or wax beans. Inside the pods, which are almost like peas, are small green beans. If they were allowed to stay on the vines the green beans inside the pods would get hard and ripe, some turning white like the beans which boys and girls stuff into cloth bags to play games with, and other beans turning a sort of brownish red, with a white spot on.
“Some bean vines like to climb poles,” said Daddy Blake, “and others are what are called bush-beans, growing as peas grow. That is the kind we planted, as I did not have time to get the poles. Then besides string beans, which is the sort in your garden, Mab, there are the larger or lima beans, which are very good to eat. I have planted some of them, and we will have them for dinner with your corn, Hal, when it grows.”
“Will my corn grow upside down like Mab’s beans?” Hal wanted to know.
“Oh, no,” answered Mr. Blake. “Corn sprouts and grows from the bottom. In another week you ought to see some tiny green spears, like blades of grass, coming up through the brown soil. It is then that crows like to come along, pull up the green stalks and eat the soft kernel of corn which is still there, fast to the root.”
“How are we going to keep the crows away?” asked Hal.
“Well, I think none will come here, as our garden is in the city and so near the house,” said Mr. Blake. “Crows are more plentiful in the country and—”
“I know how to keep them away!” cried Mab.
“How?” asked her brother.
“You take an old coat and a pair of pants and stuff ’em with straw, and fasten ’em on a stick in the field.”