Earlier this year, I mentioned my goal to grow enough dry beans to last us through the year. I'm also a big fan of sweet snap beans, so I want plenty of snaps to eat fresh and freeze as well. (E, on the other hand, hates the buggers and refuses to touch a green bean. However, dry beans make him very happy. I do believe the man is allergic to the color green.) As is probably clear by now, I'm also in love with growing historic or unusual varieties. I want my garden to be as mixed up as I am.
I grow beans up trellis columns I build from concrete reinforcement wire, and I try to stagger planting and varieties so I have beans coming in for months. This year, I have some perennial favorites and some new-to-me varieties, certainly more beans than I've ever grown. I don't know if I will make my self-set dry bean goal, but I know I'm going to enjoy the process of growing these lovelies.
|This is a mighty seedling of a Hidatsa Shield Figure pole bean. Hidatsa Shields are listed on the Ark of Taste; they're a dry bean that are supposed to make a fantastic soup bean. I received my seeds through Rancho Gordo, where I'm part of their "Bean Buddies" program, in which home gardeners test some of their heirloom varieties in non-commercial conditions. I just planted Hidatsa Shield Figure last week, a little late for our climate, where the heat from the height of summer may slow it down.|
|Tarahumara Dark Purple is a Native American heirloom from the Tarahumara peoples of northern Mexico. It grows very vigorously in our sandy, alkaline soil and sets copious pods all along its half-runner vines. The small green beans are tasty, but I grow them mainly for their firm, dark purple dry beans that have a distinct wine-y sweetness and are great in dishes where you'd like a bean to keep its shape. I ordered this seed three years ago from Native Seed Search and have grown it ever since.|
|It's my second year growing Goldmarie, a large, flat, golden, super-sweet Romano-type bean, and I am excited to have it in my garden again. The entire plant seems to have a bit of a golden flush, and the beans are wonderful, never toughening with age. I ordered this seed last year from a fellow Seed Saver member, Will Bonsall, to be exact.|
|Oh Blue Coco, you're such a beauty, your whole vine flushed purple. I love this bean, an 18th Century French heirloom, and grow it every year. The slightly flattened dark purple pods are my favorite tasting beans, and they freeze beautifully when blanched. The dry beans (if you get overwhelmed with snaps) make tasty soups. I originally purchased this seed from Fedco Seeds.|
|Last week, I started planting my hot weather beans. Here is Red Noodle Yardlong, a favorite in my yard; I also planted Thai Purple Yardlong. At this point, the seedlings look identical. I've grown Red Noodle for three years and loved it each year, especially since once the deep heat comes, this baby takes off. They're delicious dry fried with chile and garlic. This year is the first for Thai Purple. I purchased both varieties from Baker Creek.|
I took each of these pictures this morning to give an clear illustration of what is happening in the bean bed right now. But even now, a few hours later, more flowers have opened, more butterbeans have arisen, and more tender vines have twisted. That's what happens in a bed of beans: growth and change and more growth, so fast it seems like you can see it happening in front of you.