Wu Song, My “Grandbean”

Wu Song, infant Scarlet Emperor Bean

Last year this time, the date for my hip replacement was fast approaching. I was looking for any heartening events to help me through the experience because I was scared. I found a packet of Scarlet Emperor beans to plant — a couple years old — and thought, “Why not try them?”

The seeds are beautiful — purple and black — and I’d bought the packet when a friend had come through town. We’d had lunch then visited the awesome hardware store downtown.

Lo and behold, the beans sprouted and grew. For some reason, I loved them as you might love a pet and I named them for Chinese emperors and Chinese writers I loved. They grew as houseplants for a while and then I gave them away. I had a few seeds left and I stuck one in the dirt in one of my raised beds after my surgery. He quickly sprouted and grew. I continued being amazed by him all summer.

Scarlet Emperor Beans grow to be 12 feet tall, and they have beautiful red flowers and enormous seed pods. They’re edible and tasty, but I didn’t eat any of them. I saved them all to plant this year.

At the end of the season 2018, tomatoes and Cao Xue Xin

I planted a few of Cao Xue Xin’s progeny in Jiffy pots, and one has sprouted. I’m thrilled.

I have named my “grandbean” Wu Song, after one of the most heroic characters in Shui Hu Chuan which is sometimes described as a Chinese Robin Hood. It’s a fallacious comparison as there is no cannibalism or tigers in Robin Hood. Shui Hu Chuan was written hundreds of years ago — no one knows for sure because things like authorship were not important during the early times of Chinese fiction, in fact, writing fiction could land a person in jail. It’s set in the 12th century. It’s probably the most popular story in China even today.

It has many characters so if the beans do well, I could have the whole novel growing in my garden. This year I will eat the beans.

22 thoughts on “Wu Song, My “Grandbean”

  1. It’s been my contention for years that the great failing of “Robin Hood” is that it contains no cannibalism. I’m glad to see the Chinese got it right.

    What a great story, and what a great Grandbean! I hope the beans are as delicious as you are…er, in the Robin Hood sense. Not literal, like the Chinese. Anyway, I hope you enjoy them 🙂

  2. Exciting that one of the grand-beans has sprouted! Gardening is so much more joyful when we have a personal connection with the plants.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.