With all of the cool, damp weather that we have been having this year in central Oklahoma, gardening season is a bit delayed. Even though our gardens and containers are planted, I think they are just waiting on a little heat to really take off.

One off the easiest and best things that we grow are beans. They are a warm-season crop that grow very quickly, and there are literally hundreds of varieties to choose from. Because of this, we can grow our favorites each year but also experiment and try some new ones.

Beans are best planted by direct sowing, so there is no need to ever start them indoors. All you need to do is wait for the last frost date to pass, and then get them in the ground. With very little effort, beans tend to produce a generous crop, but if you are looking to increase your yield, the best thing you can do is understand the differences between bush and pole beans and prepare accordingly.

Bush beans are low-to-the ground plants reaching a maximum height of two feet high. They are a great choice for growing in traditional row gardens, raised beds or even in containers. The main drawback to growing in them in row gardens is that you have to bend low to the ground to harvest them, which is hard on your back.

Bush beans, like determinate tomatoes, tend to mature over a short amount of time—kind of all at once.  This means you will harvest the beans over a four-to-five week period of time, so succession planting is a good strategy if you want lengthen your harvest.

Pole beans, on the other hand, grow vertically and need a trellis. They are climbers and will cling and spiral around a support, growing to various heights. Some varieties can get quite tall. They mature gradually over a longer period of time, so you harvest beans longer throughout the season. Both have their place in the garden, and both benefit from frequent harvesting for continued production.

Thinking back on it, I’m sure that, at some point, most people have planted a bean seed in a paper cup.  You might have done this yourself as a youngster or have been the one who was helping other little hands plant the seeds.  There are many, many reasons why this is a common, preschool-aged activity, and I feel sure that you can rattle them off.

What’s interesting is, while children are planting the bean seeds, they are probably not thinking about posting the results on their Instagram page or about winning some sort of prize for who grew the most beans. They do it because they’re learning, and all of their experiences build their education. They are excited about having dirty hands and hopeful about what is going to come from that seed they just planted.  They take their cup home, set it on the window sill and wait expectantly! It was a fun project, and they learned some science.

For them, the project was a great success. They have not yet been conditioned to equate success with results. To them, it was successful because they had a good time, and they made it home without spilling their cup. To their parents, the project will be a success if something grows. Unfortunately, adults tend to value results, but children, on the other hand, value the process.

So often we evaluate our prayer life by this same standard. If we pray and our prayers are answered accordingly, then it was a successful exercise. However, if we pray and our prayers are not answered accordingly, then we feel that God is not listening or that He doesn’t care. Let me assure you, if you pray, God is listening, and He does care. He loves you, and He always has your best interest in mind. Your relationship with Jesus is like any other relationship, it’s a process.

Pray because you love Him. Pray because He is able. Pray because we are commanded to. “Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live” (Psalm 116:2) – Regardless of the results.