Georgia Long Cowpea
Hey folks, Soonergrandmom, asked about this, and I thought I'd post in a separate thread. Here's a description of a long bean which I grow. There are others, which are good. But this one has a history with me and my family.
I received seed for this variety in 1984, from a Seed Savers Exchange Members Virgil and Hazel Johnson in Liberty, Missouri. They had obtained it from Faxon Stinnet, also a SSE member, who lived in Vian, OK. I grew it in Winona Lake, Indiana, in 1984 and 1985, with very good results. It proved to be a productive variety for snaps, shell or dry beans. It was also drought and pest tolerant.
In 1984 my wife Jerreth and I gave seed of Georgia Long, to her grandparents in Salem, Illinois (southern part of the state). They grew it every year from 1985 until at least 1997. Grandma passed away in 1995 and GrandpaÂs health was so poor, that in 1997 he presented me with a bottle of seed and asked me to keep it going from him, as he couldnÂt garden any more. He had forgotten that originally we had given the variety to them. While growing this "bean," Grandpa planted about 20 feet on tripods and had so many that he absolutely couldnÂt eat them all. He would put out his surplus on a picnic table in the front lawn and a sign advertising free green beans! (I still have some of that 1996/1997 seed, in the same bottle. It tested out at nearly 100% germination in 2007!)
We lost our seed sometime between 1988 and 1992, when we lived in a very high cold rain forest in the Mexican state of Puebla. Life was too unsettled to keep seed going, and most of our heirloom varieties were not suited to that climate. We got more seed from JerrethÂs grandparents in 1994, and grew it until 2000, in the Mexican state of Hidalgo, in an irrigated desert environment. It did very well in the desert. This variety likes heat and tolerates white alkali conditions.
Georgia Long is a climbing cowpea. Its vines may reach lengths of 20Â! It requires strong support and climbs like a pole bean. Pods are 24" long, born in pairs. Seed is "putty red" in color, and there are 8 beans to the pod. Flowers are yellow. The plant has attractive foliage and it produces until frost. This is an excellent garden variety!
It seems almost humorous, to me, that the farthest back I can trace this variety is probably to the 1970s in Vian, OK. We've grown it, carrying it around with us in our many travels, and finally landed in Tahlequah, only about 45 minutes away from Vian. Guess we brought it home.
Georgia Long taught me something about heirlooms and how fragil they can be. Jerreth's grandparents had grown and maintained a yellow podded pole bean for many years before 1984. That bean fits, almost to a tee, the description of the Golden Cluster Pole bean, which many believed to have gone extinct MANY years ago. Grandma and Grandpa Swalley liked Georgia Long so well, that within only a couple of years they let their other bean seed expire. This left the Barksdale bean (yellow podded pole) to us, to preserve. Many who have preserved valuable varieties do not necessarily have a great vision for preservation. They just like a "good bean." So, I am careful with I share seed with someone who had a family heirloom. At the very least, I try to get a sample of their seed (a swap) and take care that it is preserved, just in case....