Heirloom Bean Bounty
What a great vegetable beans are. They are one of my absolute favourites. With the huge selection of varieties available to grow from seed, it's difficult to keep to just a few types each year so this blog focuses on the heirloom varieties.
I first started growing beans because they are direct sow - a great way to start as a beginner gardener. Every year I still get excited when I see the first pale green shoot unfurling under the soil. It took me a while to realize that I needed to protect those tender new shoots from the predators in my garden. So I got creative and cut the top and bottom off some 3 litre juice bottles. I carefully wedge them into the soil around where I have sown my seed and then hold them in place with a couple of kebab sticks to stop the wind blowing them away. Ta dahhhh........the slugs and snails and the pesky hungry birds can’t get anywhere near the shoots and the baby plants are protected from the wind.
When it comes to making your bean selection, there are several questions to ask yourself:
- Do you want a climber/runner or a dwarf variety?
- What colour?
- Round or flat?
- Are you going to eat the bean or do you want to harvest as a dry legume?
|Variety||Runner or Dwarf||Colour||Round or Flat||Eat pod or Seed||Comment|
|French Garden Filet||Dwarf||Green||Round||Pod||Organic Haricot vert classic|
|Fin de Bagnols||Dwarf||Green||Round||Pod||Haricot vert classic|
|Blue Lake||Runner||Green||Round||Pod||Closest to Fardenlosa|
|Italian Flat||Runner||Green||Flat||Pod||Also known as Snow Bean|
|Rocdor||Dwarf||Yellow||Round||Pod||Organic. Black seeds|
|Gold Marie Vining||Runner||Yellow||Flat||Pod||Organic. Romano|
|Neekar Golden||Runner||Yellow||Slightly flat||Pod|
|Wonder of Venice||Runner||Yellow||Flat||Pod||Also known as Rheinegold|
|Purple Tee Pee||Dwarf||Purple||Flat||Pod|
|King of the Blues||Runner||Purple||Round||Pod|
|Yard Long Red Noodle||Runner||Burgundy||Round||Pod||Organic. Asian|
|Cannellino||Dwarf||Green||Round||Seed||Organic. White kidney bean|
|Jackson Wonder Pole||Runner||Speckled||Flat||Seed||Organic. Speckled lima bean|
|Lima del Papa||Runner||Green||Flat||Seed||Red speckled lima bean|
I know some of our customers agree with me, when I offer my opinion that the Scarlet Runner type beans have the most flavour. I realise some of you just enjoy the smoother texture of other beans and stringless varieties, but I have found that if we harvest the scarlet runners early enough, they don’t require destringing.
A couple of years ago when Gerard expanded the bean range to include Painted Lady and Sunset, I set up more trellis and grew all three varieties (scarlet runner types) together. The view from my kitchen window was amazing when they were all in flower - an added bonus. The beans themselves were all very similar with great taste, heavy cropping and good for freezing.
IS IT WARM ENOUGH?
Some of the varieties require a bit of patience before planting. The Asian style beans need soil temperatures to be at least 20°C and the Neekar Golden Runner needs warm soil too. So wait until November before sowing these in a nice sunny position in your garden.
RAW OR COOKED?
Do you always cook your beans? We eat a lot of raw beans in our household as I throw them in salads all the time. We also tend to stand out in the garden eating them from the vines and have found the dogs love them too. A wee while ago we received quite a few calls from concerned customers regarding some hullabaloo in the media about being poisoned by eating raw beans. This is the first we had heard of it so we did a bit of research and it appears you would need to eat a whole bucket load in one sitting for there to be any adverse affect, so my family will carry on eating them in our salads.
If like me, you reluctantly buy the beans at the supermarket because you crave a feed of them, and then find them terribly disappointing for taste, get some bean seeds sown now. Nothing beats the flavour of beans grown in your garden and picked on the day! Now, which one to choose?????