I never expected to like beans as much as I do. This picture was taken in July of 2010 and shows my new office after I quit my previous job. At the time I was growing wax beans, green beans and some soy beans for making soy milk. The bush type green beans would sometimes grow a long climber so that was a reversion to a parental type.
Then I started looking into how many varieties there were and wanted to grow some dry beans like the Pinto, Kidney and Lima beans. A simple way to get more was to go to the store and buy a bag of bean soup mix. Then my list expanded from the initial three to sixteen. Cranberry, Pink, Red, Turtle, Dark Red Kidney, Light Red Kidney, Blackeye Peas, Lentils, Northern and Chick Peas. Which I planted in the North Garden (the same year I was getting rid of the horsetail and renovating along that edge for water flows). Most did well, except the Lentils, Chick Peas and Blackeye Peas.
North Garden - Aug 19 2011 (765K)
The first few years of growing beans there wasn’t much cross-breeding going on and then I had one cross show up between the green beans and the pinto beans. I purchased or traded for more varieties: Appaloosa, Calypso, Coco, Etna, Edamame (Soy), Painted Pony, Money, Peregion (a blend of several types), Red Ryder, Greasy, Pink Tip and Yellow Eye.
I’m not including Navy (a smaller white bean). They were so common around here that they were almost all we used for cooking (I like them, but there is so much more variety out there to try that I don’t care to grow them or the Northern beans).
With all of these varieties growing and being open-pollenated by bees (small bumblebees seem to be the most common on the beans) cross-breeds started showing up. After a hundred I’ve stopped counting. Some of them I grow out to see if they are worth keeping. Many I have kept because they are unique and some are quite beautiful.
I also have several varieties of wax or green beans. I like to eat them when they are still crunchy out in the garden, but as you can see from the top picture I also turn them into bean salad and can them (with chopped onion and dark red kidney beans).
Almost all I’ve listed here are available for trade, but if you can find them by buying a bean soup mix locally it is cheaper far easier to do that and save the postage.
My favorite time of any harvest season in the late summer and fall is the dry bean shelling and sorting. It is magical to me, like picking stones off the beach, how so many can be unique and I also like the tactile aspect of the process. At times I get done sorting in the middle of winter and mix a bunch back together so I can sort them and see them again. OCD? Perhaps… 😄
The following are just a few examples of what I’ve grown. 2016 was a year when I only planted a few varieties. Most of my garden space was taken up by squash and I knew I didn’t have enough room for much else. Eventually I hope to have a good enough setup for the camera and lighting that I can get some good pictures of the many varieties I have here. The human eye picks up so much detail that is lost with a quick camera picture. To really capture it right needs some lighting and a really good close up camera lens.
Goats Eye Bean Tan - Sep 24 2016 (764K)
Red Beans Close - Sep 24 2016 (1149K)
Red Beans - Sep 24 2016 (1094K)
The 2017 growing season has started off fairly well with most beans sprouting that I planted. The only challenge has been to get the Edamame Soybeans to survive sprouting stage. The chipmunks have been eating them as fast as they sprout - which means I have only a few plants growing out of several hundred seeds planted. Some years nature gets a fair share earlier than I’d like. This season I planted between 50 and 100 varieties.
During and after planting I was trying to sort and combine containers to get the bean seed collection to take up a little less space. With few rainy days lately I’ve not finished yet, but I thought I would take a picture to show a version of the madness… The bigger containers on the shelves are the beans I have enough of to to eat. Many of the smaller containers have collections of similar varieties which haven’t yet been sorted out. I’ve no longer been counting or naming crosses - there’s just too many of them.
Sorting Beans - Jul 4 2017 (1527K)
The Scarlet Runner Beans are well worth the space on the fence for the color of the flowers alone.
Scarlet Drop - Sep 1 2017 (1623K)
Greasy Beans would like a little longer season here, but they do very well as you can see by how loaded those vines are with the heavy pods.
Greasy Beans - Sep 1 2017 (1551K)
Some of the first dry beans of the season. The colors don’t show up as well in this picture as I’d like, but this at least shows some of the varieties.
First Beans - Sep 7 2017 (1707K)
A bean I’ve been trying to cross-breed for the past five years. A hoped for productive and reliable bean combination (Red Ryder and Pinto). Lovely light pink pattern on these, it will be interesting to see if the color changes as they age (if it does at all), how they fare in terms of production and growth habit and disease resistance and if they are actually going to be stable.
Pink Pinto - Oct 20 2017 (1289K)
And another bean combination I’ve been trying to cross-breed for five years finally showed up. Thank you to the bees and Mother Nature. So very hard to see unless in direct sunlight, but these are from two very productive and reliable beans (Red Ryder and a tan/brown selection from a Goats Eye and other bean mix called Peregion). I’m looking forwards to seeing how they grow out next season. Given how difficult these are to see I’m going to have to go back through my cooking red beans and see if there are any in there from previous years that I just didn’t notice.
Red Goats Eye - Oct 20 2017 (1171K)
Now that I have a bit more time for indoor projects I can spend some time getting ready for the coming spring’s planting and sort through the beans to make selections for planting. One of the Yellow Eye cross breeds from last year I want to grow out has four selections from the early harvest to plant. What makes this cross interesting to me is that it finished a little earlier than the other Yellow Eye beans I had planted so I will be interested to see if any of these next plantings also finish a little earlier.
The first are the regular shaped seeds (very slight speckled to no markings at all):
Early Yellow Eye Regular - Jan 6 2018 (1250K)
The second are some seeds which have large speckles:
Early Yellow Eye Speckled Large - Jan 6 2018 (1065K)
The third are flatter with many small speckles, some have the solid color down the side:
Early Yellow Eye Speckled Flat - Jan 6 2018 (1214K)
The fourth are more round with many small speckles:
Early Yellow Eye Speckled Round - Jan 6 2018 (1285K)
Today’s selections are:
Yellow Soldier - Jan 7 2018 (1286K)
White End Pinto - Jan 7 2018 (1151K)
Red White - Jan 7 2018 (1035K)
White Black Small- Jan 7 2018 (1107K)
Two pictures from today:
Brown and White- Jan 8 2018 (1241K)
Mixed Bag - Jan 8 2018 (1250K)
In the sun you can see better:
Red Hints aka Sunset - Jan 14 2018 (1272K)
Yellow Hints - Jan 14 2018 (1250K)
Lavender - Jan 14 2018 (1276K)
Light Olive - Jan 14 2018 (1303K)
Red Purple White - Jan 14 2018 (1263K)
Four More Colors - Jan 20 2018 (1381K)
Multiple Layers - Jan 20 2018 (1381K)
Still Sorting - Jan 20 2018 (1460K)
Bean sorting season is here and so time to put up a picture of a new cross that showed up this season. Likely parents are the Tan Goats Eye beans I’ve grown for several years and either the Pink Tip or the various other derivations from the Yellow Eye beans (also known as Molasses Face). I usually plant those or some of the other yellow hinted beans that have shown up from crosses and the bees and Mother Nature did what they like to do. This sort of thing makes me so happy to see. :)
Lemon Slice - Nov 17 2018 (2569K)
A selection of beans from what was grown this season showing how easy it is to shift the shape of a bean within a few years time by selecting what you are after from crosses that show up. These are likely from a cross between Money and Appaloosa beans.
Shape Change - Nov 25 2018 (1324K)
Eleven groups of four each from the half beans. I do not have the yellow ones in this picture so there are more I have grown in my collection. You may not be able to see it easily, but each group is a different color from the others.
Half White Beans - Nov 25 2018 (1434K)
Another of the crosses that has shown up the past few years. I call it Yed because of the combination of yellow and red. What is so distinctive about these beans is the splotchy patterns they make.
Yellow Red Beans aka Yed - Jan 17 2019 (1408K)
Getting ready to go to a seed swap - how to decide what to take?
Sorting Beans - Feb 21 2019 (1394K)
Finally finished up the sorting and winnowing of beans down to a more reasonable number of future samples. I still have way too many brown beans.
Sorting Beans Finished- Apr 15 2019 (1493K)
The 2020 season has been pretty hot and dry the past several weeks. The beans are coming along but not doing as well as they would if we’d had a few more rains recently. This is one of the smaller bean gardens, mainly this picture is to show the first four rows from left to right of beans (and only the nearest half) was planted with four varieties of beans to see if they were the same bean or not. Purple Diamond, Purple Dove, Purple Rose and Purple Rain. So far they do look pretty much the same.
Some Beans - Jul 8 2020 (2993K)
Getting rid of some useless pathways and combining three gardens gave me room for some more bean planting. The gardens on the left is also pretty poor soil with a lot more sand than most of the other gardens I have to work with so I can do tests of how well various beans do in different soil types. These are doing moderately well. The gardens farther back and on the right are lower down and in our more normal mostly clay subsoil - some parts have been amended and turned and other areas were just lightly spaded to provide some pathways for roots to get down, but otherwise not turned or amended.
Combined Gardens - Jul 8 2020 (3008K)
The garden along the south fence and yes, more beans… Also views of part of the tomatoes, and in the background the cucumbers, more tomatoes and the smaller garden in between which has some chewed up broccoli and cauliflower plants, peppers and a cherry tomato plant.
South Beans - Jul 8 2020 (2877K)
The plants of each type of purple bean are the same growth/habit/size from the four purple beans I planted next to each other so I could get a good comparison in similar soil conditions. These are the pods from (P1) Purple Diamond, (P2) Purple Dove, (P3) Purple Rose and (P4) Purple Rain. Yes, there are some differences so this experiment is giving results. P1 and P4 are about the same with more rounded and narrow beans, P2 is flat and matte finish while P3 has flat and has a more shiny pod.
Purple Beans - Jul 29 2020 (2388K)
Purple Dove make excellent shelly beans, they are fairly easy to shell once the pod is full and starting to get limp. Also if you take some of the water off as it extracts the pigments from the skins it can be used as a pH indicator (use distilled water) which is similar to how red cabbage juice can also be used as an indicator. They do take a bit longer than some other beans to get the skins tender, but that is ok with us. For flavor these beans are like a Pinto bean but the flavor is not as strong and the texture is creamy.
Purple Dove Shellies - Oct 7 2020 (2414K)
I’m not sure yet of the parents of Purple Dove, but I’m starting to get a few clues (notice the lines).
So far in all of my shelling out of many thousand Purple Dove there is only one bean with the dark/odd mark.
Purple Dove Markings - Oct 7 2020 (2685K)