A dilly of a bean

mauirose(11)February 11, 2010

i'd like to find a round podded bean that grows nice and straight, produces a good sized crop all at once and stays crisp when pickled.

i have tried Jade and Royal Burgundy but they are not as straight as i'd like. Might be me, not the bean ; )


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Kentucky Wonder fits the bill for dill pickles in our family.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 11:33AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

mauirose, I pickled the following 4 types last year:

Kentucky wonder (pole)
Gold or Bacau (pole)
Garafal Oro (pole)
Red scarlet runner green snaps (pole)

We found that the Garafal Oro and the runner beans did the best after pickling. They were flavorful, crisp, and had a meatier texture, also their natural flavor did not get overwhelmed by the spices. Neither has a round cross section though. The kentucky wonder was my favorite steamed, but I thought it was too delicate for pickling, even though they came out OK too. I actually pickled them together (same mix, same jars) to compare better. Another thing one could do is use less spices if doing only the KW, at least this is what I'll do if I find myself with an armload of KW this next spring (I better plant some soon!)

What you are looking for is probably Fortex. Tastes like the Kentucky wonder, round cross section, but it is about a foot long and very straight. I have not tried pickling it though, we only got a few last year. Planted them late and they got attacked by aphids, just like the cow peas. Since you are in z11, maybe the KW will also do better in your garden? someone else here must have experience pickling the Fortexes, hopefully they'll post.

If you want them to ripen all at once, then you are better off planting bush rather than poles. Kentucky wonders also come in bush form and they are pretty good.

    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 4:06PM
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Folks, you are barking up the wrong tree.

The request is for a crisp textured bean suitable for making dilly beans. There have been some selections over the years for just this trait, but the ones I am aware of are all pole beans with extended harvest. The best of them is Striped Bunch which produces a heavy crop of round straight 5 inch long beans that are perfect for making dilly's.

There are a few bush beans with the desired traits but most are not commercially available. I have not tried it for dilly's, but Festina is a recent release that just might work. My only qualm is that most of the commercial bush beans are relatively low on flavor which limits their use for dilly's in my opinion.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2010 at 11:38PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I'd recommend "Emerite", although it is a pole variety. Round, straight pods, with a very firm texture. Very high quality, especially for canning. Vines not as tall as most pole beans, you could grow them on a 4-5 foot trellis.

    Bookmark   February 12, 2010 at 1:38AM
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Wow, surprised, thought for sure i was looking for a bush bean.

Well, maybe it will be Emerite. Shorter vines are better i think because of the wind here.

Striped Bunch sounds interesting but i googled and didn't come up with a source. Didn't see it in SSE catalog either. I know where i can get Festina so maybe that one, too.

Cabrita i enjoyed your post on the beans you pickled last year. It's what made me start thinking about having my very own stash. But i do want a round podded bean. Easier to pack i think and also i like my vegetables to be attractive. Shallow, i know ; )

i have tried to grow Fortex three times in two different locations and that bean does not want to grow for me. i put it down to the wind. But now i am wondering if long beans make a good pickle!

Kentucky Wonder seems to be a very popular bean. Some vegetables seem to be popular because they are readily available so i am glad to hear two recommendations for this bean.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 2:51AM
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roper2008 (7b)(7b)

I grew Empress Bush Bean last summer. It is round and mostly straight.
I don't know how it would pickle, since i've never done that. Here
is a picture.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 4:07PM
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Mauirose, you've mentioned the wind several times now. What kind of wind? Is it hitting you from straight off the ocean, downdraft from a mountain, updraft from the lowlands, ?

Also, can you plant or erect anything as a windbreak? Used to see cyclone fencing with plastic strips like venetian blind forced through the openings at an angle, for privacy fences. Ugly, but maybe stronger than 1x6 board fencing, also impervious to termites. I guess any plant used as a windbreak would take up alot of room. Bamboo comes to mind but is invasive. Maybe a concrete wall, if you decide it's worth the cost.

Are there any old Japanese gardeners around who you could ask for advice? Those guys know a few tricks and workarounds.

    Bookmark   February 13, 2010 at 10:44PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Mauirose, if wind is a serious problem for your location, then you are looking for a bush bean.

"Emerite" and "Fortex" are both pole "filet" beans. I like beans of that class, because they are round-podded, firm, and slow to develop strings - great canners. There are also bush varieties in the filet class: "Nickel", "Maxibel", "Straight 'N Narrow", "Masai", and "Tavera" are some of them. These are all green-podded, but there are a few yellow-podded filet beans as well. I haven't tried any of them yet (I grow mostly pole varieties) so can't vouch for them personally. Johnny's, Territorial, and Vermont Bean are some of the sources.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 1:16AM
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Yes Happy, that's me, if i'm complaining about the wind i'm whining about the bugs LOL.

We are on a ridge on the windward side of the island so the trades smack right into us. Keeps things cool and comfortable but the constant wind can be a little dessicating for plants. Higher gusts can be downright damaging.

i planted a row of pigeon peas before preparing the garden area but the peas seem to be a short variety and probably are a little too far away as well. i am slowly replacing the pigeon peas with bananas and various shrubs which might help a little eventually. i also have a hedge planted at 90 degrees to the pigeon peas but it will take 3 or 4 more years to make a difference. i have considered putting in a fence but i don't want to create shade, the fence would have to be pretty tall to shield pole beans, and fences are not cheap.

i have a row of asparagus right in the main garden and it makes a pretty good wind break when the ferns are up. The leeward side of tomatoes provides a little shelter as well.

Zeedman thanks for the bush bean suggestions. i haven't tried to grow any of the varieties you mentioned, i'll take a closer look.

i did grow a few pole beans last year and enjoyed the ease of harvesting. Thanks to this forum i have seed for several more to grow out so i'll keep plugging along. Maybe i will try setting up some teepees in some more sheltered parts of the property ; )

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:29AM
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i was reading another thread and now i see where Striped Bunch might be available but not until next year.

Posted by fusion_power 7b (My Page) on Sat, Feb 13, 10 at 10:51

Another year down and beans are still on the agenda.
In 2009, I produced seed of Tobacco Worm, Blue Marbut, Old Time Pink & White lima, and a few cowpeas which were sent to Glenn Drowns at Sandhill Preservation. Take a look at his catalog and you will find a very nice listing of heirloom beans.

For 2010, I plan on growing Alabama #1, Striped Bunch, Goose
and Grandma Roberts Purple Pole. These are selected because they are varieties I know produce and perform over a wide variety of climates. They are also selected for a variety of traits that are not commonly available. Striped Bunch for example is a straight bean about 5 inches long and ideal for dilly beans. Grandma Roberts Purple Pole is a very productive purple pole bean with excellent production.

Good luck with your bean growing folks!


    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 2:10PM
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I'll make an offer for you and only for you. Send me a message with your address and I will send you a small package of Striped Bunch seed. I don't have much so can't make this a general offer.

I would appreciate if you could grow it and let us know what you think compared to other beans for making Dilly's.


    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 8:23PM
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Mauirose, if only you could find clear privacy slats to put in cyclone fencing, it would stop most of the wind, let a little through around the edges for the good of the plants, and let the sun through. Maybe this could be made from rips of clear plastic. Yes, it would be expensive, though if you could get the cyclone fencing second hand and install it yourself, you could do it for much less.

This place has windscreening fabric, wonder how much light it lets through.

    Bookmark   February 14, 2010 at 9:06PM
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Well Mr. DarJones i was all ready to wait until next year but that is an offer i will take you up on! Thank-you very much.

Happy i troll craigs list pretty regularly and occasionally stop by the Restore. Never know what you'll find!

Roper i forgot to thank you for posting the nice picture of the Empress Beans. i saw in another thread that you are planning to grow them again this year, they must be good ; )

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 3:06AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

I was just thinking that I needed some half runner to inhabit part of a short trellis I have.......after reading this thread and peeking in my seed box, I found enough seeds for Emerite! result of a recent trade with a generous GW member. I noticed they were very black and elongated, like the fortex but blacker. They look like the black valentines. I also put a few Fortex beans on the ground, perhaps they will like our long nice springs better than our very hot autumns. I planted a few other P. vulgaris in the last 10 days, the ones that gave me the impression they don't like heat. I might be too early, but I see them sprouting on their own (self seeding AKA volunteers), so I guess they are ready to go?

Emerite will be my replacement (or addition?) for the KW in the pickle jar. Thanks zeedman for the recommendation.

Mauirose I said bush beans because they tend to be ready all at once like you said you wanted, unlike the pole beans, that produce for a long time. If you have winds, then bush would be good for this additional reason too.

We have no family tradition of dilly beans, and the variety pack was a hit with all that tried it. It was a lot of fun to sample the different flavors, textures, colors and sizes. We did it to compare, but decided we will pickle mixed beans again (if we do have multiple varieties, let's hope we do). Also, I wanted to mention that if we do get Fortex and pickle them, we would have to cut them, there is no jar long enough to fit the whole thing. Was your problem black aphids? and ants? We did get enough of them to taste, but pests were a problem. Nothing seems to bother our pole KW by the way, and they produce from early spring to late fall, no kidding. I don't know if it is because we have been saving seed for several generations and they are well adapted, or is it that Kentucky Wonders are just more productive and problem free in the southern USA?

    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 3:45PM
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Kentucky Wonder is pretty well adapted to a hot humid climate and to a very long growing season. The only bean I've grown that is better adapted to heat is Rattlesnake though a few others are similar.


    Bookmark   February 16, 2010 at 6:08PM
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Good news on the Emerite Cabrita! i love it when things come together like that.

With beans i do not have too much insect troubles but yes, sometimes aphids happen. The rose beetles like to chew lacy holes in the leaves but do not bother the beans. With Fortex particularly the leaves become brown and crispy at the edges and the vines lack vigor. Maybe this bean would do better closer together, i understand the foliage is typically sparse in the best of conditions. In addition to not tolerating the wind very well it may be that they have a low tolerance to salinity. But it is all good, i will just concentrate on varieties that are a little better equipped to handle my conditions.

DarJones i emailed you through GW but i am always suspicious about their delivery system. Hope it works this time.

i think i will give Maxibel and Masai a try.

    Bookmark   February 18, 2010 at 12:03PM
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i think it is time for a quick first update.

Jade Bean.
Still had seeds so planted some more in January. Seems to benefit from longer days, plants grew taller and produced longer, straighter beans with a nice flavor and texture, good steamed. Needed to be trimmed to fit jars, keeps a nice crunch when pickled.

Striped Bunch.
What an elegant little bean! So glad i got to try them. i'll be pickling the first beans in the next few days so won't be sampling the dillys for a few weeks. Strong, uniform germination, good root development. i got to check the roots because Mrs. Pheasant, a bird with discriminating tastes, plucked the top off of each seedling, grr. Luckily Mr. Jones provided a generous sample. i pulled the little stumps and replanted with protection. Beans were resown March 28 and picking began about a week ago. The vines have bushy ankles, good leaf cover and climb the trellis very deliberately. Some beans sprint to the top but SB takes time to twirl repeatedly around each wire. Right now the viness are around three feet tall and loaded with beans and flowers. There are some longer runners reaching for the top of the six foot trellis. The bean pods are a pale shade of green, only 3.5 to 4" long, shorter than Dar described. i enjoy snacking on them as i pick, there is a 'floral' quality to the beany flavor. They seem a little delicate for pickling? i've only grown a few pole beans but yield seems to be good, about two pounds from about 16 plants in the past week with a lot more to go. Beans need frequent picking. Only complaint is that some of the beans get caught up in the twirling vines and don't grow straight. This is a very minor thing. Overall i am very happy with these beans, thank-you Dar Jones! Will report back after pickling.

This is the bush filet bean i decided on, mostly because they were in stock when i placed my order and because the description said that they don't need to be picked everyday like other filet beans. Planted April 11, just started flowering.

More later...

    Bookmark   May 17, 2010 at 4:19PM
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Ispahan Zone6a Chicago

Sorry to rake up an old thread, but did you ever decide which bean was better for dilly beans, Mauirose? I am interested to hear more about the overall performance of both Striped Bunch and Masai as garden beans and as pickles.

    Bookmark   November 23, 2010 at 10:32PM
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Since you bring it up, I'll update that I sent a generous amount of Striped Bunch seed to Sandhill. They will be available in 2011.

Folks, please keep in mind that Striped Bunch is a true half runner bean. The runners rarely get over 5 feet tall. It produces a very heavy crown set of beans with a smaller amount up the runners. The beans are just the right size to fit into a pint jar when tipped and tailed. Each plant produces between 30 and 50 beans so you need 100 plants to produce about 20 pints of dillys. Don't plant too thick, 2 or 3 seed per foot in a row is dense enough.


    Bookmark   November 24, 2010 at 1:46AM
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cabrita(9b SoCal)

Since I last posted in this thread we had the opportunity to try 'black valentines' as snap beans, and had an excess so we pickled a few jars. I can recommend the black valentines for pickling. They stayed nice and crunchy, they all seemed to ripen at the same time, and they are petite so they fit well lengthwise in a standard pint jar without having to cut any part of the bean. We also had a chance to pickle the Louisiana purple pods, and they were OK too, but I prefer the valentines. The other things I like about them is that we can easily get two crops in my climate, and if you have too many and want to dry some, they make the best black beans (dry) than I ever tasted.

I did not get enough Emerites to do much with them so I cannot comment on how they pickle.

We continue to pickle combination beans, so each jar has more than one type of beans. I did like the black valentines, but our favorites as far as taste and texture after pickling are still the runner beans! Those do need to be cut though, too long for pint size jars.

    Bookmark   November 29, 2010 at 4:10PM
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