Growing Beans with Susan Young (GotG43) – The Unconventional Gardener

In this episode, Emma the Space Gardener talks to Mission Specialist Susan Young. Susan’s new book, “Growing Beans: A Diet for Healthy People and Planet” aims to get us to look beyond green beans, as growing and eating shelled beans – fresh and dried – has numerous benefits for us and our home planet. 

In this episode:

01:25 Emma the Space Gardener talks about an anthropology event at Kew Gardens, where she met legendary archaeobotanist Gordon Hillman and saw Dr Simon Platten’s impressive collection of French beans seeds, a day which set her on the path to becoming an ethnobotanist.

03:24 Susan Young talks about how travelling the world led to her developing a passion for French beans, Phaseolus vulgaris.

05:49 Susan discusses the incredible diversity of French beans found in continental Europe.

08:52 Susan explains the many benefits of growing and eating more beans.

18:58 Susan explains how gardeners used to growing green beans can take the plunge and grow beans for shelling and drying.

17:47 Susan talks about her favourite ways to eat her shell bean harvests.

19:30 Susan chooses the French bean variety she would take into space.

Susan’s book is called “Growing Beans: A Diet for Healthy People and Planet”, and it’s published by Permanent Publications. It’s currently retailing at the bargain £8.05 at (that’s an affiliate link).

Emma mentions renowned archaeobotanist Gordon Hillman. You can read more about his academic work in the Guardian’s obituary, and get a more personal feel for him via Ray Mears’ recollections.

Dr Simon Platten’s research into informal seed networks:

Ellen, Roy, and Simon Platten. “The social life of seeds: the role of networks of relationships in the dispersal and cultural selection of plant germplasm.” Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 17.3 (2011): 563-584.

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This episode uses’s Fast Forward sound effect, and the lovely Ryan Doughty was CapCom for Mission Control.

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zrb9Ω Emma Doughty wrote this post for The Unconventional Gardener website. If you’re reading it elsewhere you may be reading stolen content! zrb9Ω

© Emma Doughty 2022 and published on

Emma Doughty

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