Gardening Articles: Health :: Cooking

Heirloom Beans (page 3 of 4)

by Michael MacCaskey

Pole or Runner Beans,Three to Six (or more) Feet High

Borlotti. (105 days) A classic Italian pole bean, this medium to large bean is tan splashed with red-black or magenta streaks.
Flavor: nutty
Texture: firm

Black Runner. (105 days) A beautiful variant of the Scarlet Runner bean. A flavorful snap bean when very young, it goes on to produce long pods full of deep black beans.
Flavor: sweet and rich
Texture: somewhat firm

Giant Pinto. (105 days) This buff bean w Cooked, the flavor is very much like that of ordinary pinto beans. Unlike most beans, it retains its distinctive markings after cooking.
Flavor: rich
Texture: smooth

Madeira. (100 days) Brought to the U.S. by emigrants from Portugal and Italy. A large cranberry bean with distinctive light tan skin mottled with red-maroon. Three to four feet high.
Flavor: nutty
Texture: firm

Mauve Runner. (105 days) A color variant of Scarlet Runner, this bean is lavender with deep purple to black flecks. Young purplish pods can be eaten as green beans.
Flavor: potato-like
Texture: smooth and starchy

Scarlet Runner. (105 days). Named for its red flower, this bean has long been popular in Europe. It produces well under slightly cool conditions. Reaching 10 to 12 feet, it requires a substantial trellis. Immature pods are edible. The large bean is purple mottled with black.
Flavor: potato-like
Texture: smooth and starchy

YingYang. (100 days) This is a rare heirloom variety that Berry maintains in three separate color forms. (They require different cooking periods.) Half the bean is white and half is either red, yellow or black. A curved boundary divides the two colors, and there is a single dot of color in the white half.
Flavor: rich
Texture: smooth

How to Grow Beans

Wait to plant until soil is thoroughly warm, usually a week or so after the average date of last frost for your area. In the South, that means early April; in the North, early June.

Sow seeds about one inch deep and four to six inches apart. Plant smaller seeds 1/2 inch deep and four inches apart. Sow six seeds of pole beans around each pole, then thin to three plants. If your soil tends to crust, cover seedbed with a light mulch.

It's best if soil is kept moist one to two inches below the surface. This is especially important just before and after germination, and later when seeds are developing inside pods.

The Mexican bean beetle is the most troublesome bean pest in the East. These are copper-colored beetles with 16 black spots. They chew and consume soft tissue of leaves until only lacelike veins remain. The pedio wasp (Pediobius foveolatus) is a commercially available parasite of bean beetles. Spined soldier bug (Podisus maculiventris) is a helpful predator.

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