Friday, August 5, 2011

Bean Progress

Bed 8 contains two fifths of the beans planted

I planted a lot of beans this year. Most of them are dried beans. This is the first year growing many of them so I figured it was time to see how they were doing.

Bed 8 starts with 1 1/2' of Painted Lady, a runner bean. The seed was from Mike H. Some of the flowers are plain scarlet runners and some are Painted Lady so the seed is not true. Runners do outcross rather easily unlike other beans. Not that it really matters. I planted this one at the edge of the bed so I could see its flowers. I don't grow them for their beans, but for how pretty they are. Which is good since they haven't set any beans yet. They have been flowering forever and still no beans have set at all. Runner beans don't like to set in hot weather. They like cooler temps. And now that our temperatures are back into the high 70s and low 80s they have a chance.

Bean 2 is my old friend Kentucky Wonder. It has the next 5 1/2 feet. It is the sole green bean in the garden. It has green pods that turn yellow as they age. Its flowers are white. It put out a nice flush of flowers to start and now we are in a lull, but I see more flowers starting to bloom. I think next week I'll get to eat beans again.

Mexican Pinto

Bean 3 is 4' of Mexican Pinto. It flowers white and has a green pod that gets a few streaks of red in it when mature. It is hard to tell how this plant will really do. The seed I had was ancient. It was from SSE. I seeded this early and some of them lived through our weather swings. Some didn't so I had to reseed. Then some of the plants died as they were setting beans. The early ones? Too stressed out to handle it? So I'll save seed from the best few plants left and try again next year. And speaking of saving seed. Mexican Pinto has dried pods already. So they were picked.

Bean 4 is 2' of Turkey Craw from Michelle. It has white flowers but so far hasn't set any pods. It is probably the most vigorous vine in the garden. It would be over 12' tall if it could, but the trellis is only 7' tall. It is aggressive and trying to take over its neighbors.

Bean 5 is 2 1/2' of Rattlesnake from Mike H. Is a fabulous bean. It easily reaches the top of the trellis, but isn't too aggressive. It has purple flowers and pretty red striped pods when mature. The plants are loaded with pods. If I like the taste of the bean it will be a real winner in production.

Left to right. Ga Ga Hut, Unknown black bean, Mexican Pinto

Bean 6 (and 6 1/2) are supposed to be Ga Ga Hut. It died in the early spring except for two plants. I didn't have the seed to replant. The two plants left are different. One looks a lot like Trail of Tears except that its pods don't get that beautiful dark maroon color when mature. And the beans are black too. So it isn't Ga Ga Hut which is a pinto bean. But it isn't really Trail of Tears either. The other is a pinto so is indeed Ga Ga Hut. Since there is only one plant I'll save all the seeds to plant next year. It looks like both the pintos I planted will have to wait until next year.

Bed 5 is just half a bed so only 8' long.

Bean 1 is 3 1/2' of Apache Red. Of all the beans this one survived the weird weather swings we had in the spring the best. Almost all of the plants lived. It took quite a while for it to climb to the top though. Early on it seemed more like a bush bean but climb it did. Now it is trying to take over the melon trellis. I keep trying to beat it back. So far there are no flowers. Which isn't a good sign. I was hoping it would produce well so I could use it as a kidney bean substitute.

Bean 2 is 1 1/2' feet of something. It says Norridgewock, but that seed never germinated so I put in something else. I have of course forgotten what it is. It was put in late and is flowering white.

Bean 3 is 2' of Tabais. It is a very aggressive vine with large leaves. It flowers white and has set a total of two small pods. So far I'm totally unimpressed.

Bed 2 was all planted a bit late since it had my spring spinach and radishes.

Bean 1 is 5' of Trail of Tears. It has purple flowers and green pods that turn purple/maroon when they mature. There are pods set all up and down the plant. Trail of Tears if very productive.

Bean 2 is 4' of Ottawa Cranberry. This plant plays well with others. It reaches the top of the trellis, but don't get bigger. It has lavender flowers and its pod turns yellow with red streaks when it matures. It has set a good amount of pods but not nearly the quantity of Trail of Tears or Rattlesnake.

Bean 3 is 2' of Aunt Jean's Pole. It is a very sick bean. I hadn't even noticed it before. I tend to pretty much ignore the dried beans until their pods start to dry. I always get a little bit of disease, but if I just stay out of the patch it doesn't spread much. It has short pods that turn yellow when mature. I probably won't save these, but just toss it all because it is so sick.

Bean 4 is 1' of Lazy Housewife from Jane. It doesn't have numerous pods, but those that set are very long.

Bean 5 is 2' of Petaluma Gold Rush from Michelle. The plant is aggressive and has huge leaves. Sadly no flowers yet. Why is it always the aggressive plants that have no flowers? Well it had better get cracking if it ever wants to be planted again.

Bean 6 is 1' of Borlotto beans from Jane. It has very small light lavender flowers and poor pod set. The pods turn splotchy pink when mature.

To round up, my tried and true Trail of Tears and Ottawa Cranberry are doing well. Rattlesnake is looking very promising. Both pintos will have to wait until next year to be eaten since not enough seed will be produced due to the weather and old seed. Lazy Housewife might work out if it is productive enough. But I have a lot of beans that are creating foliage but no beans. They might be varieties that are just too long for my season. Around here it is best if the beans are drying in August since September can be drizzly. Not always, but some years. I was hoping for more successes, but so far I only have one - Rattlesnake. I'd rather have a whole bunch of beans to pick from so I can pick the ones I like in the kitchen best. I might be trying yet more beans next year.


  1. I think you'd better get over to my blog today and grab the name "Mrs. Beans"! Hey, that's better than "Mrs. Full-of-beans"!

  2. This is my first year planting beans. Some critter made off with the seedlings, so I tucked the last one into a planter on my deck.

    I was hoping to zap it with sesame oil, like I do with the string beans I buy in the store or farmers' market, but this had, well, actual beans in it :-) Did not taste good.

    Did I wait to long to pick them? Are string beans just immature green beans? Or do I have to plant a specific variety?


  3. I second Granny's vote and you are now crowned Mrs.Beans 2011...your prize is ...ummmm

  4. You have lots of beautiful beans ;)
    I was hoping to have more beans, I planted a lot, mostly bush but one that is suppose to be a vine, but it is not vining and is not very productive so far! The flowers on your first pic are just beautiful.

  5. Oh your bean garden is WONDERFUL!! I love beans too so I can really appreciate this post!! The Borlattos are not very heat tolerant and I have a very short window for growing them here. Interesting about the Petalumas - I haven't tried those yet. Your runners are gorgeous - I can't grow runners due to the climate but it's been hotter in your area than it ever gets here and your runners are thriving. Tarbais did so well for me during the winter months I'm bummed to hear they haven't grown so well for you. They're really delicious as shells. What a beautiful bean garden!!!

  6. Karen Anne, It is hard to know without seeing your beans. And yes you have to choose a green bean variety to get good green beans. Dried beans can have tough pods. A few can be eaten as green beans early on, but usually a green bean variety is better. And yes if you wait too long to pick them they will get really tough and start to develop little beans inside them. String beans and green beans are the same thing. They were called string beans ages ago when the beans all had to have the strings removed before being eaten. The string is a fiberous part of the pod that runs from one end to the other. You snap off the top (snap beans are another name for green beans too) and pull the sting off.

    Mrs Pickles, lol luckily I like that prize. But this year I won't be rolling in the beans. Too many are not flowering right now.

    Shawn Ann, I hate when pole beans turn out to be bush beans. Last year I had the opposite. I planted bush beans and they turned out to be pole beans.

    Jane, As to the Borlattos, we have had some really hot weather. They are probably hating it. And I've found that the runners grow just fine in the hot weather. They just won't set beans. I love runner beans as they taste great, but I'd grow them anyway even if they didn't set anything every year. I'm bummed that the Tarbais haven't set well either. But sometime things work and sometimes they don't.

  7. Wow, you are growing a large variety of beans. The red flowers in the first pic are beautiful.