A post from the middle of a HUGE snowstorm here in Southern Ontario…. It is hard to imagine that the garden beds, now covered in up to 7 feet or snow will ever be ready to plant again. Since I haven’t started sowing quite yet & don’t have any seed swaps left to send out, I am feeling very non-gardeny… So I decided to post reviews of my 2013 bush bean harvests!
I grew twice as many bush beans this year and will likely add to that total next year! A favourite summer activity involves grabbing the dried pods and mixing them together. Later when I shell them, it is like a mini-Christmas, full of surprises. The only problem is that I had a couple of crosses & had to check which plant that they came from with subsequent harvests!
On to the variety reviews and photos:
A bush snap bean discovered and named by Russ Crow in 1977. Brought back from the brink of extinction by a few Canadian Seed Savers. There is a great write-up on Mr.Crow’s site A Bean Collector’s Window. The large, sturdy plant has beautiful blue/purple flowers with a fantastic yield of tasty snap beans. The harvest started early and they stayed tender for a long time. Bonus is that the dried seed is gorgeous!
A hardy, productive variety grown for green snap or dried black beans. It is fairly early for me. The pods are great to process – long and straight. This year I planted these for their dried bean yield. I have found them to be my most productive black bean, edging out Cherokee Trail of Tears (pole). I only had a dozen plants and managed to get 3 cups of dried beans. Not bad! Great for all recipes needing black beans.
There is no known history for these beans. All that I can say is that I loved growing these. The unusual colouring was my favourite to shell. They were early, foot high plants with a good yield. The bean itself is great. I ate them in an Italian peasant soup. That is just a tomato based soup with every leftover bit of veg in the kitchen! The bean plumped up well and held its shape during cooking. Another grow again!
I grew these for the 3rd year in a row. I like them! They are prolific, early and I love the shape and colour of the dried beans. I use them in chili. They don’t go mushy. The bean has a long history in Maine, with many different stories of possible origin. It is supposed to be a great baked bean. I haven’t tried it that way yet. Either way, I think that I will take a year off next year, but it will come back again in 2015.
Another return to the bean patch and another great soup bean. This was a last-minute fill in of a dozen plants when I couldn’t find where I stashed my seed for Mrocumiere, a rarer variety that I had planned on trying. My missing seeds showed up at the end of summer, right where I thought that they were! Anyway, Orca produces well for me. It is a tasty, dependable variety in my garden!
This is a Hungarian variety. It grew a few short vines, but nothing to long. I used it as a snap bean when very young, but I wish that I had left them on the vine to dry. It was good as a snap, but the dried bean is excellent! It is a plump odd-shaped bean that keeps its colour when cooked. It is lovely in stew, chili and soup. A definite grow again. I’m just not sure where I will fit all of my grow agains!
WOOD MOUNTAIN CRAZY
A ridiculously prolific green snap given to me by another crazy Canadian bean collector. I got masses of tasty, thick green beans with purple stripes. They are not as tender as some, but are very tasty. I made a little mistake with my seed saving & these got mixed in with my Rattlesnake pole seeds. Argh! So, next year I will have to grow them and thin out any that start to vine!
These are dark maroon Japanese dry beans. They are used as dessert beans or simmered with soy, or dashi soup. I actually threw them into a chili. They took on the chili spices & were very good. The next batch that I cooked to attempt dessert, I managed to burn beyond recognition. The plant was the earliest in my garden & produced & died quickly. Even with our not long season, I think that I could have grown 2 sets of plants!
A New England heirloom dried bush bean. You can use them as shelly types too (although I didn’t). I like them, but they did not produce in my garden at all. Since everything else did well, I don’t think that they will get another shot. Too bad, I love the dark pink colour of the seed and enjoyed shelling these ones! They stayed firm when cooked and were very tasty. Great texture for baked beans.
Another repeat crop. My favourite variety for baked beans. The texture is creamy and the taste is perfect for the sweetness of baked beans. Early, great yields, an all around excellent bean! They shoot out a few runners & I try to save next year’s seed from the less vining plants, but occasionally forget in my hurry to pick the dried pods. These are an easy bean to shell. Another to grow in 2014.
INDIAN WOMAN YELLOW
These extra small dried beans were an odd plant for me. The plant was like a miniature. It had smaller leaves, skinny pods, runner tendrils everywhere, but not great production. Had I know that the plant was so small, I would have squished a few more in & put them on the outskirts of the bed. They ended up dwarfed by the Yellow Eye and Vermont Cranberry on either side. I haven’t tasted them yet, but they are really cute!
In the end, I have more “grow every year” types and very few “don’t grow again” varieties. At some point I will have to narrow down my grow agains and stop adding garden beds. From the new to me plants, I recommend Piros Feher for dried beans, Wood Mountain Crazy for production of snaps, Blue Jay for its lovely history and Dapple Grey for its good looks! I am a shallow gardener, picking beans by their cuteness when dried!