What is everybody's favorite pole bean? I've always done bush beans but next year I want to try pole beans.
Tobacco Worm is the standard against which I judge all others, Debbie. It's a Kentucky/Tennessee heirloom not easy to find, however.
Among commercial seeds, Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake are the usual standards. And readily available. So you might want to start with one or both of those.
I have had exuberant success with Rattlesnake greenbeans: some are nearly 6 inches long, fat, and succulent!!! Real easy growers, but need lots of space to climb on. Tasty, too! gw
Rattlesnake and Purple Pole beans (Burpees sells the latter). Both are good producers, and not stringy like Kentucky Wonder can be.
By far my favorite pole bean is "Scarlet Runner". The blooms are not only gorgeous, attracting both bees & hummingbirds, but are also edible & a delightful addition to salads.
The beans themselves are of the flat "Romano" type & have an absolutely wonderful "beany" flavor - much more so than regular "snap-type" pole beans. You can pick, slice, & cook them young like green beans, or shell older pods & use as you would fresh limas.
The plant is lovely enough to do double-duty in any flower garden.
Breezyb said, 'By far my favorite pole bean is "Scarlet Runner".'
That was confusing because I had recently noticed that the Territorial Seed catalog lists pole and runner beans separately. But a search shows that scarlet runner beans are called pole beans in many catalogs. Apparently Territorial calls pole beans Phaseolus vulgaris and runner beans are P. coccineus.
I couldn't find a FAQ anywhere, can anyone explain (or point to an explanation) of the different bean types?
I found a site which has of very comprehensive list of bean species with their botanical and common names. Link is below.
Here is a link that might be useful: Species of Beans
Looking again at your post, I realize the link I gave you doesn't fully answer your question.
Runner bean, half runner, bush bean, dwarf bean and pole bean all refer to the growth habits of beans. Runners (pole beans), for instance, are tall climbers. Beans within a given species, say limas, can be pole beans or bush beans. The growth habit isn't necessarily linked to species.
Thanks, Jimster, that looks like an informative link.
Yes, after thinking about it, it became clearer that runner and common pole beans might be botanically different, but to the home gardener they have the same growing habit. So that must be why they are sometimes lumped together and sometimes split apart.
The legumes lexicon can be very confusing, because the same words are often used to describe different things; and the same thing often described with different words.
True Runner beans are a tropical perrenial grown as an annual. They are Phaseolus coccineus, and have distinct differences from common beans, which are Phaseolus vulgaris. For instance, runner beans will readily cross pollinate with each other while common beans won't.
However, in many parts of the country, vining plants are called runners, and the growth habit is called running---just as Jimster did above. So if somebody calls a bean variety a "runner," you have to make sure whether they mean an actual runner bean, or if they mean a pole bean.
In some places, though, if you ask if it's a pole bean they'll look at you strange, because---particularly in the mountains of the South, and in the Ozarks, they differentiate them as stick and bunch beans, rather than as pole and bush---which, btw, are called "dwarf" in England and some parts of North America.
Still with me?
Half runners add to the confusion. As a class they are common pole beans that have short vines. That is, they only "run" half as far as standard beans. That, at any rate, is the origination of the term. But it no longer is as descriptive, because many "half-runner" types have vines that easily go 8-10 feet. And there are many short-vined varieties---striped bunch comes to mind---that are not, and never were, referred to as half-runners.
I hope y'all been taking notes. There will be a quiz on Friday.
There is yet another group of vining beans. Those are the bush---er, bunch, er, dwarf---types that send up short vines. Used to be they were called "twining" beans, but that designation is rarely seen anymore. However, those short vines are commonly called "runners."
Uh, oh. There's that word again.
You bet I've been taking notes, GardenLad. You're a master of this and I'm but a neophyte.
Care to get into the lingo of pods and seeds? For example: are greasy, creasy and cut short synonomous? The author of a pretty good book I'm reading thinks so but, from what I think I've learned on this site, I would say there are greasy beans which are not cut shorts and cut shorts which are not greasies.
You've got it right, Jim, and whoever wrote that book is incorrect.
The group called "greasy" all lack the micro-hairs that cover most bean pods. This gives them a shiny look, as if they'd been dipped in oil. Thus, greasy. Near as I can determine at this point, there are about 30 distinct greasy varieties, and, literally, hundreds of strains and lines. Among them is the Black Greasy, perhaps the rarest, and, to my mind, the prettiest of them all.
Cutshorts are a group typified by having their seed very crowded in the pod. This causes them to deform and have (usually) squared ends, looking as if the tips had been trimmed away with a knife. Thus, cutshort. BTW, this trait is much more common in cowpeas, which is why they are often called "crowders," because the peas are crowded in the pod. Red Cutshort and Amish Nuttle are examples of cutshorts that are not greasies.
I'm not sure what is meant by "creasy." There is a group called "creaseback." Maybe that's what (s)he's talking about? Creaseback is another one of those words. It's sometimes used to describe the shape of the pod, and sometimes the shape of the bean. For instance, Leona Dillon has seed with a sharp bend, giving it a very distinct crease along the back of the seed.
There are numerous varieties that are greasies but not cutshorts. And many cutshorts that are not greasies. And some that combine the two traits, and become greasy cutshorts. For instance, Little White Greasy Cutshort combines both traits.
The basic point, however, is that those words are not synonyms.
Also keep in mind that when we say "beans" we are usually talking about New World varieties; that is, P. vulgaris and P. coccineus. But there is a whole group of Old World beans as well; the favas or broad beans. These are Vicia faba, and have different growth and culuring requirements because they are cold-hardy, like English peas. Favas also cross readily with each other. There are two subgroups of favas, which again leads to confusion, with some seeing them as species varieties, and others seeing separate species.
Another source of confusion can be found among the limas, P. lunatus. There is a raging controversy about whether or not limas and butterbeans are different beans. John Coykendall, who maintains a rather large collection of them, insists, for instance, that they are the same, while others say they are different.
There also is a heated discussion over whether the large limas and small limas are different species. There is some justification for this, because the large types and the small types have different growth habits.
Have you been lurking on the Gastronomiqe Foodie list? The same contoversy over Butterbeans vs. Limas has been raging there as far as "eating" quality. One of the senior members (80 years young) distinctly recalls butterbeans as being different from Limas. Both of which her folks (in OH) grew. Several other members concur, but I have yet to determine "what" exactly the butterbean of their recollection IS.
No, Carol, I'm not on that list. But the argument doesn't surprise me; the butterbean/lima controvesy has raged for a very long time.
The folks who assign scientific names contribute to the problem, because they are divided into two groups: those who want to separate things, taxonomically, as far as possible, and those who want to clump them together.
Thus, in general, Limas and Butterbeans are Phaseolus lunatus. But those who want to spread them out say that the small limas (which includes butterbeans) should be Phaseolus lunatus, but the large limas are Phaseolus limensis. As I said above, there is some justification for this because there are some distinct differences. One of them is actually an annual, and the other is a perennial that we happen to grow as an annual---just like peppers.
Note, though, that both the small limas and butterbeans are taxonomically the same. If it looks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it's a duck.
Gastronomically, I say this: what does it matter? All of them can be used interchangeably without noticably changing the nature of a dish. So you call them whatever you want, and serve 'em up on a platter.
Let me add to the confusion: There is also a "Dwarf Scarlet Runner", that behaves more like a bush bean. . . .
The word "dwarf" is semi-archaic in the U.S., but still commonly used in England. It's a synonym for "bush."
I made a passing reference to this, above.
I have to agree with GardenLad, Tobacco Worms are fantastic beans! I was lucky enough to receive some from a trade last year and will ordering more from Heirlooms.org this year.
Elysium left an "l" off the end of that address. This is the first time I've been to that site. Clever way to show the pictures.
Here is a link that might be useful: Bean List
A couple of comments on the SMAC list and Tobacco Worm beans.
First, the list has not been updated. Bill Best, at SMAC, actually has more like 300 Appalachian beans in his collection, rather than the 175 mentioned. Depending on last year's production, the list may be different this year. So it makes sense to contact them first before placing an order.
Second, a note on the NT Half-Runner. That's a variety Bill developed and bred himself. He spent more than six years stabalizing it. It's a half-runner that behaves like the original ones. That is, it does not get tough or fibrous the way modern half-runners do. It also is an astoundingly good tasting bean, which I rank right up there with Tobacco Worm and Barnes Mtn. Cornfield.
What I'm saying is that if he does not have enough Tobacco Worm to fill orders, the NT Half-Runner would be a very good second choice.
There are currently three members listing Tobacco Worm in the SSE Yearbook, all of whom got their seed from Bill. It's also available through me (contact me off-list at BrookBarb@aol.com for my seed list). AHSC (Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy) has it as an accession, but it's only available to members. Membership info is available at KentuckySeeds@hotmail.com.
There are quite a few private growers, some of whom are on this list, growing it out too. When I touted it in Mother Earth News, for instance, Bill filled about 250 orders.
All of which is very gratifying. I spent three years searching for Tobacco Worm before obtaining seed, and have spent a lot of energy publicizing it. It's always nice when one's efforts bear fruit.
I recently purchased North Carolina Greasy and Rose beans.
Thannks for the insight as to why they are called
"Greasy". Do you have any info or opinion about the Rose bean?
If you got the Rose from Bill Best, it's a family heirloom from the Rose family of Panola, in Madison Cty., Kentucky.
It's a large bean----pods go 9-10 inches or even longer. The beans are solid plum on one end, for about a third of their length, which then breaks into a frosting over ivory. It is, in fact, one of the prettiest of our mountain beans. The beans are very meaty and tasty.
Rose is grouped as a pole snap bean, and is often prepared with the beans starting to fill out. But I much prefer them as a fresh shelly, or even dry. They're not bad as a snap bean, but, IMO, there are others that are much better used that way.
Like most of the old mountain varieties, they tend to stay tender, with no fibers or woodiness. However, they do have zipper strings.
Thanks GardenLad. I did get both beans from Bill Best. I had planned to use them as snap beans. Will the NCLG make a good snap bean? In your opinion, what bean is a great snap bean? Any thoughts will be appreciated.
Tobacco Worm is really good. Striped Hull Greasy Cutshort is terrific but warning, very small beans max 4 inches long. Uncle Steve's Italian Pole is a hard to find but very good snap bean. Hickman's Snap is pretty good if you can find the 3 color one (has strings!).
There are many others that I would class as good beans but most are not commonly available.
Of the commercially available types, I like Fortex, Emerite, Musica, Rattlesnake, and Kentucky Wonder (the old fashioned brown seeded one).
Mudpye, I've never tasted the NCLG, so don't know firsthand. But, by the same token, I've never met a greasy bean I didn't like. My guess is that it's a great snap bean. And Bill certainly thinks highly of it.
As to other great snap beans, well, the list could include hundreds of varieties. Among my favorites:
Tobacco Worm (which I use as the standard against which others are judged.
Barnes Mtn. Cornfield.
Those three would run neck & neck for the title best in show, IMO. Others include:
Red Striped Greasy.
Bailey's Six Week Bean (a bush variety).
Trail of Tears (when harvested very young).
Among commercial varieties, Kentucky Wonder and Blue Lake are the standards. Personlly, I don't care for Blue Lake. And KW, while a good bean, is surpassed by some of the others.
Keep in mind, though, that local conditions can affect both productivity and taste. For instance, Corky (a West Virginia heirloom pole wax bean) did spectacularly for me. But it wasn't happy down by Fusion.
i sent glenn drowns at sandhill preservation some of uncle steves pole beans to try. hopefully, they will be less hard to find in the future. gonna have to try tobacco worm one of these days.
keith in calumet who needs some decent weather this year to resupply the seed stock
the uncle steve pole beans aren't the best canners because they come out on the soft side, but that turned out to be an advantage for us. they mash up easier for baby food. my 10 month old son is the newest generation to eat them...and like them.
keith in calumet
Sorry - my mistake. I just naturally call any bean that I can grow upright on a pole a "pole bean". Didn't mean to be confusing.
My "Scarlet Runner" beans reach 6'-8' high on a bamboo tepee. To me, that's a pole bean, unless you want to say that it's a runner running "up" - lol!
I have agreed to grow out enough of the Uncle Steve's Italian Pole beans for Glenn at Sandhill to offer them next year. If he doesn't get a crop, I probably will and that will put them into the available class.
I agree that they are very good snap beans.
way to go fusion!
i'm at the extreme edge of the growing range when it comes to saving seeds for the beans so i didn't want to be the only one growing them in case i ran into several years in a row of bad luck.
i'm looking forward to growing two of those nines.
A storm knocked over my support system for my pole beans. The plants weren't damaged but many of the runners were broken off. Will the plant make more? Thanks
yes they will.
I'd like to put in a plug for Lazy Wife (aka Lazy Housewife) pole bean that maintains succulence as it matures and tastes great, prolific etc...no too many pole beans stay succulent by the time the beans are swelling the sides of the pods
Peter, you're right. Lazy Wife is a good choice, particularly for those who don't want to bother pulling zipper strings.
However, I take minor exception to your comment about beans staying succulent. For many of the more modern varieties, that's true. But an incredible number of older types, particularly those from the mountain south, remain tender and succulent as long as they are green.
Many southerners, in fact, prefer snap beans that are filled out; often to what we'd think of as the shelly stage. For this to work, however, you can't choose a bean whose pods turn woody and fibrous as they mature.
Too True and no argument...we in australia do not have anywhere near range you guys have to choose from as one would expect ...and we cannot get them into the country legally anyway so we are limited and I find that Lazy Wife is one of those that does maintain a level of moisture in the pod well into the stage where the beans are starting to swell the pod out (that is what I meant by succulent) many beans (at least of those that are available to us) dry vey quickly as soon as the beans (seeds)begin to develope
I do not know of any group available to us which could be described as "snap beans" lucky you
Hope that clears up my meaning
What we have here, Peter, is a failure to communicate. Not surprising, with the built-in confusion of the legumes lexicon.
But to clarify: One way of classifying beans is by their intended use. In that nomanclature, "snap" refers to the whole pod, in it's green stage. They are eaten that way both raw and cooked. The word "snap" comes from the fact most people traditionally broke them into pieces (i.e., "snapped" them) before cooking or canning.
So your Lazy Wife are, in that sense, snap beans. Beans that are commonly called "green beans" or, in my mother's day, "string beans" would fall into the snap bean category.
Thanks mate...now I am clear
Here in Australya we don't have so many beans so we call em...bush or climbing and then subclass them into dry or green and thats it...at one stage we did call all beens eaten green as French...but thats history now
Keith, I'm growing those Uncle Steve's Italians as well this year. Devil of a worry at first as only 2 or 3 of 20 came up right away. Then another would pop up a few days later and so on for what seemed like forever. Finally pretty much filled out the row and now they are climbing over whatever they can find and fighting it out with a grape vine on their way up into a mulberry tree! Just noticed a few pods a few days ago so seed production is underway.
>at one stage we did call all beens eaten green as French...but thats history now At one time the sun never set on the British Empire. But that's history too. :>)
Seriously, in Jolly Olde they still use the word French to describe climbing (i.e., pole) beans. Your use of that word probably derives from there.
Here in the U.S., "French" refers to a style of preparing the beans. The pods are cut longways, in a thin jullienne. Often, when cut that way, they are cooked with almonds
To complicate things even further, in many parts of the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains, old timers forgo the use of "pole" and "bush," and prefer "stick" and "bunch." Which I think are much more descriptive; but they never caught on anywhere else I'm aware of.
In England, bush varieties are still called "dwarf," which once was common in the U.S. but is now archaic.
There is another plant type as well. There are quite a few bush types that send out runners. These usually are no more than 18-20 inches or so, and often much shorter. Those types used to be called "twining," but that's pretty much arcaic everywhere. Most bean growers have never heard the term.
See! I told you the legumes lexicon was confusing at best.
There is a third stage, between green and dry, called, variously, shelly, fresh shelly, and green shelly. That's when the beans have filled out the pods, but the pods haven't dried yet. The beans are shucked (i.e., shelled) and the pods discarded (traditionally they were fed to the hogs).
Do you eat beans in that stage down there?
I have never heard of anyone doing that...even dried beans ar not overly common...I have heard that Americans working on Oilrigs down here were inclined to eat more beans in their diet than they did meat...Aussies tend to eat a lot of meat
I have posted a request for recipes for dried bean based meals on another forum here and all the recipes were sourced from USA
There is only limited interest here in bean vars because of our quarantine regulations on importation...and lets face it you guys are the home of beans
One var of semi bush but vining tendency type beans I have grown is Double Princess which I found qhite good but not as prolific as most bush beans or even climbing beans...I grew them in amongst my corn stalks so they may have been unfairly disadvantaged
I also grow Azuki Beans and Soy Beans and barlotti beans as well as other bush types such as Black Turtle and the better performing (here)Canadian Black
Last year I tried growing Lima beans in a trial patch but had poor success...we have too many cold nights and often get dry but overcast days during summer (particularly over the last decade)
Are you able to grow peanuts of any var. with any success
Peter, I don't grow peanuts myself, but have friends who do so.
I tried them once, about 20 years ago. Didn't have a clue what I was doing (there are some interesting differences between peanuts and just about any other garden plant), and it didn't work out.
If you're interested in trying them, Mother ran an article a year or two back on growing peanuts. It's probably in the archives. Well worth tracking down.
I was just given a bag of "heirloom pole beans" by a friend. She doesn't garden, but her mother gave them to her and wanted her to try them. Then I found out they originated in Maine.
Since I'm in an area that gets stinking hot in the summer, I'm wondering how much I'll have to take the weather into consideration when I plant these beans. I assume it's too late to try to get a fall crop this year, but do you think my beans may be more tolerant of cold weather or less tolerant of hot weather, or is that taking the heirloom idea too far?
Best bet is to try some, Barb.
While there are some beans sensitive to climatic conditions (see my note re: Corky above, for instance), most of them are adaptable.
It might take a couple of years for those Maine beans to become happy in your area. So don't give up if the harvest is only so-so the first year.
Humm, I'm in the ozark mountains, and I've never heard of "stick" or "bunch" beans , We've always called them "bush" or "pole".BUT--the first time I was asked "for a poke to tote it in" I didnt understand that either.
Doesn't surprise me, ceresone. Most people have never heard those terms, as they're used mostly by the real old-timers back in the hollows.
They're more common, too, in the backwoods of the Appalachians than in the Ozarks. By I have heard the terms used in your mountains.
Sometimes when I use those terms I get a look, and a comment to the effect that "my mom used to call them that. Haven't heard the expression in years."
But the Ozarks and the Appalachians have a lot in common, in terms of how people lived and worked in the old days, and what they grew. Plus, much of the English settlement of Missouri came right out of Kentucky and, to a lesser degree, Tennessee. In fact, that's why the Appalachian Heirloom Seed Conservancy includes Missouri in it's region, even though it's not an Appalachian state. Often we find heirlooms with a Middle Ground connection there, for instance, which can no longer be found in the Appalachians per se.
Our most recent tomato accession, for example, came from a Missouri member who collected it from a now deceased Amish lady who had grown it for more than 50 years, ever since migrating from Tennessee where her people had grown it "for generations." Yet, to date, I cannot find anyone in western Tennesse who's familiar with this tomato.
By the same token, I find that the original Whippoorwill cowpea is still grown as a family heirloom primarily in western Kentucky and eastern Missouri.
Has anyone ever grown this bean?? Have talked to a few local "old timers" around here and they loved this variety but it has pretty much disappeared. Just curious what others experience has been with it.
They are still available:
There has been some breeding work with this variety and the improved version is called Cascade Giant.
I have only grown Oregon Giant and they are doing very well here in Britain. Very large seed pods, delicious beans. If the pods get too old, the beans inside are also good to eat. This variety is said to be frost resistant and up to a point that is true, but only at the end of the season. I had some plants that were killed by a late frost in June. On the other hand they are usually the last beans to be picked after the first slight frosts.
I always grow pole beans, since they are much easier to harvest, and they produce over a longer time. I grow them on a fence of reinforcement wire, and grow usually two vines up every wire.
I always grow a few Trionfo Violetto - a purple bean which is always the first to produce, though it is susceptible to rust, and doesn't produce for as long as others. Blue lake stringless is my favorite green bean - produces for the entire season (just harvested probably the last ones today!), and doesn't need picked every day; in fact, it can go 3-4 days without becoming tough and stringy, which happens to some after just one day.
A new find this season is Chinese Red Noodle - a long bean, dark red or maroon in color, which grows to over 30", and can also go several days without becoming hollow or tough, as happens quickly with other long beans I have grown. Incredibly productive and no diseases to speak of, and great flavor. Definitely a keeper.
I could swear I had planted stringless pole beans, either Kentucky Wonder or Blue Lake but I can't find stringless seed. Is there such a thing?
This was such a great thread.....so much information....I grow beans and peas and truly love them and am interested in all the info about beans ...
Does any one know any thing about the McCaslon or McCaslin Pole Beans? I got them from my grandmother in KY but can't find any info on them. Thanks cc
McCaslan is the name on the seedpacket I received in a swap a while ago. A very nice, large, flat snap bean which contains big white seeds which can be left to mature and used dried.
And Baker Creek are stocking it. Or rather a selection of the original McCaslan. They give the following information:
McCaslan 42 Pole
This is a selection of the old McCaslan bean that had been grown by the McCaslan family of Georgia since before 1900. This strain was selected by the Corneli Seed Company of Saint Louis in 1962. The dark-green pods are stringless and full of flavor. The white seeds are also great for a dry bean. This strain is extra productive and hardy.
Here is a link that might be useful: Baker Creek Seed's url
Thank you so much galina. I have been looking for information on these beens for weeks. cc
first time pole beans attempt. 5" deep 27" long planter box about 7 plants 3-4" apart they are now about 2' high /but some of them have white markings on the outer edges of the leaves. should I be concern about them?