Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit

This year I did a little bean trial.  Really that is gardener code for I planted too many varieties of beans (:

7 Bush Bean & 12 Pole Beans and 2 half runners all squashed into 2 13’x4′ beds.  A little hard to keep track of.  I had to plant the runners at the base of our cherry & plum trees because I ran out of room in the main veggie garden!


BLACK VALENTINE – An heirloom variety dating back to 1897, snap green or dry black soup bean.  Supposed to be good in cool temperatures. VERY prolific in my garden.  Saved more of this seed than any other black bean.  We also had a couple of meals as green snap – but mostly wanted the dried bean for winter.  This one is a definite grow again.

JACOB’S CATTLE – A beautiful dry bean.  Excellent in soups.  An East Coast variety (some say New England, some P.E.I, some Germany – a little more east). Also called Trout & Appaloosa. Very prolific and the earliest dry bean in the garden.  I only had 6 plants of this one & it produced TONS of little dry beans.  Another definite plant again.


ORCA – A striking black & white soup dry Mexican bean.  Matured almost as early as Jacob’s Cattle in my garden this year. Love the look of this bean. It will be a fabulous addition to soups.  Quite prolific for the few plants that I managed to set out! And what a surprise – another definite plant again.  So, I need more raised beds next year.

PURPLE QUEEN and ROYAL BURGUNDY –  Both deep purple snap bean.  Early in my garden.  Turns a very dark green when cooked.  I love the taste of this variety.  I grew it beside Royal Burgundy to try to figure out which I like better, as I usually alternate years.  I still don’t know.  They taste & look the same to me.  Purple Queen was a bit earlier but Royal Burgundy produced a bit more.  A toss-up. I guess that I will keep alternating.

TSUNETOMI – The only internet reference to this bean is Dan & Val (Grunt & Grungy)’s garden pictures.  Sadly both of these amazing gardeners have passed away, so no info… It out produced every other in the garden. I froze bag after bag of snap green beans.  I also have hundreds of seeds. Not my favourite taste but production means this is another to plant again.

YELLOW EYE – A dry baking/kidney type.  I can’t wait to taste this variety. They are supposed to be the best baking beans that you can grow (:  They grew very well in my garden. Midseason, very prolific & easy to shell. Related to kidney beans.  There are several “Yellow Eye” varieties: Maine, Stueben, but I am not sure which my variety is.  Another plant again.

POLE BEANS (where I got a bit carried away):

CAROLINA GREASY – Insane snap green beans!  They grew 16′ long & didn’t produce a single green bean until September – a problem for saving seeds – but when they started they were unstoppable. Bucketfuls every other day & bonus – my favourite fresh eating taste this year.  I only have a handful of seeds for next year, so I will have to start one very early indoors to try to get more seed (:

CHEROKEE TRAIL OF TEARS – Carried by the Cherokee in 1839 during a forced march to Oklahoma. Many Cherokee died of exposure along what was later named the Trail of Tears.  Used as a dry black bean or green snap.  This one was my favourite black in the garden. Very productive – and bonus tasty as a green.  Not doing a good job cutting back – this is a grow again.

FRENCH DUET – A french fillet type bean. I’m afraid that this one got lost in the mess of Malibu & Santa Ana. It took me a while to pull the vines apart & figure out which was which. In the meantime, I froze a lot of all 3.  Sadly I had bought a little gadget to filet the French beans, too late. None stood out more than the others. Finally – a not grow again next year.

GOLD OF BACAU – A Romanian yellow wax bean with 6-8″ long flat pods.  Beautiful taste, tender & easy to pick.  This is my favourite yellow bean that I have ever grown.  I love it.  It is a definite grow again. The pods started off the summer quite flat and slender.  By the end of the season they were still flat, but about 1.4″ across and very long, while still tender. Outstanding. Hmmm… Dang.  A grow again.

HIDASTA SHEILD FIGURE – A dry baking type from the Hidasta tribe of North Dakota. Wicked markings. Sadly this one is a bit too late for my garden. I got a small amount of seed before the frost killed the plant.  It also got a bit crowded out by its neighbour – Carolina Greasy pole. I may change my mind after tasting them, but likely a not grow next year! Whew…

JEMBO POLISH – Short wide pods.  Can be eaten fresh, but I found them a bit tough.  I may have caught them too late.  I left them to dry – but they didn’t produce much.  They are such an exceptionally  large dry bean, so I will try them again next year.  Maybe lack of quantity will be made up for by sheer mass. I love the look of them! I can’t wait to use them this winter.

LINGUA DI FUOCO – Also called Tongues of Fire bean.  An Italian flat green bean with reddish speckles and streaks.  It can be eaten green young or left to dry.  I really like the taste of this one, but it doesn’t stay tender very long in my garden. It also doesn’t produce much seed for me (tried the last 3 years).  I think that I will have to give it a pass next year.

MALIBU and SANTA ANA – Green snap beans. Both tender with good yields.  Tasty but I couldn’t really tell them apart. My 1st round of seed saving (the bulk of seed) I couldn’t tell it apart & they ended up mixed together.  I went back out a few days later & followed the vines up for enough to grow again.  I won’t grow them next year.  There are too many great green snaps to grow!

PURPLE PEACOCK  & VIOLET POD – I know the picture doesn’t match the rest of the post.  The seeds are at home, I am at work… whatever – great purple snaps!  I really enjoyed this both of these. They were very similar.  Violet Pod was earlier but Purple Peacock kept producing until the end of September. They tasted the same.  Purple Peacock has a better name (; It wins.

RATTLESNAKE – A beautiful green bean with dark purple streaks.  Fantastic tasting when used as a snap. I ate a lot of them out in the garden.  I also froze tons of this bean.  Also used as a dry bean.  One of the most prolific in my garden.  It did exceptionally well.  I ate more of this & Carolina Greasy as garden treats than any other!  It is a definite grow again.

So my bean trial worked out really well. Almost everything is a plant again next year & I am sure that I will come up with a few more varieties that I have to try.  So my game plan has changed. Instead of a bean trial to narrow down the varieties, I will now do bean trials to see how many more garden beds to build.  (:

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19 Responses to Beans, Beans the Musical Fruit

  1. HazelJ says:

    What a great summary of bean varieties! I’m especially interested in the bush dry beans: I’ve had trouble getting snap beans to the dry stage before frost in order to save seed but I had some success with ‘Magpie’ this year. It’s a really pretty bean, but I didn’t wind up trying any at the snap stage as I was growing out about 10 seeds. Perhaps I’ll give ‘Jacob’s Cattle’ a try next year.

    As for ‘Royal Burgundy’ vs. ‘Purple Queen’ I also grew both this year. I think I prefer the ‘Purple Queen’. I found it produced slightly more uniformly, was more drought tolerant, and I think the flavour is slightly superior to ‘Royal Burgundy’.


    • nicky says:

      I have to admit, with all of the other things I had going on in the spring the beans got ignored. Jacob’s Cattle was very early, especially considering my neglect (: I’ll pop some seeds in your exchange package next month if you like (: Nice website by the way – I have never seen it before!


      • HazelJ says:

        Great! I’m not sure where I’ll be up to work/CSA wise next year, so my plan for next year (in case I’m short on time for gardening) is to maximize “plant & pick” type crops like beans, winter squash, etc. where I can run the tiller between rows to weed efficiently and get a good harvest while keeping weeds from totally taking over.

        I like pole beans in the sense that they’re more space efficient, but I find there is a limit to how many bean teepees (and tomato stakes, and row cover supports) I can get put up in the garden in the spring. So I try to be careful with growing too many pole beans. This year I just did my favourite ‘Stringless Blue Lake’ which worked out well since I think I may not have harvested many seeds from the heirlooms I have banked. Let me know if you are interested in ‘Kahnawake Mohawk’ or ‘Mr. Tung’s’ Pole beans and I can put some in for you next month. I also have ‘Indian Woman Yellow Bush’ dry beans, also from 2011, though I never actually got enough to make soup, they are pretty… you may have a slightly longer season and have better luck getting them dry before frost.


  2. nicky says:

    Thanks HazelJ! I wouldn’t mind trying the Indian Woman Yellow Bush. I think we have just a bit longer season than your area, so it might work out (: I think that for dried beans Jacob’s Cattle was one of the earlies in my garden ever. For green snaps, Lewis was the fasted to mature last year.


  3. So, you want me to send you more Carolina Greasy seeds? Be happy to. Millard


    • nicky says:

      hey Millard! You found me (: Thank you so much for both the Rattlesnake & Carolina Greasy. I LOVED them both. I would love a few more, if you don’t mind. I held back 8 seeds from your package from last year, just in case I couldn’t get more seed this year. Some years our pole beans dry in time, sometimes they turn to mush hanging in my garage! Can I send you anything back? I know that you have a lot of breeding projects on the go, but if you have room? (:


  4. Do you have Nature’s Riddle tomato seeds? My friend Richard is looking for that one. I’m pretty much set on everything else.


  5. nicky says:

    Nope – saved lots of Rattlesnake this year! Thank you for the offer though… I will email the address.

    Congratulations on the release of Captain Lucky by Artisan Seeds! That is fantastic (: Just in case anyone else reading this would like to take a peek at the releases:


  6. Hey there! Nissy here… Just wanted to let you know that you won an award! Yoo-hoo! YOO-HOO! CONGRATULATIONS! Come on over to Nerissa’s Life and check out “cupcake city” to pick it up. purrs


  7. nicky says:

    Sweet! Thanks Marj! I am just a bit amazed that anyone reads my blog! (;


  8. Dawn says:

    Great post! I have discovered that I love growing beans and have started to collect different varieties. There are so many beautiful and prolific ones to grow, it’s hard to choose. Your reviews will help me decide which ones to experiment with and which ones to pass on, at least for now.


  9. Marj says:

    Nicky did you ever hear if Mr. Murdock got his tomato seed? I never heard from him, just wanted to know if they made it to him ok. Thanks Marj


    • I’m sorry, Marj. I did receive the tomato seeds from you and I passed them on to my friend, Richard. I thought he was going to contact you about them, maybe offering some seeds in return.


      • Marj says:

        Thanks for the reply Millard. I wondered if one of our Governments had grabbed them. Those agents must have great gardens. (ha ha)


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