Butterbeans and a southerner's amusement.
I don't often post to garden web unless I have a specific question or feel I have something definite to add to a discussion. I do however like to read various threads and posts and often get amused by the discussions on topics that I feel I do know something about.
One of these topics that I as a native born son of The Heart of Dixie, Alabama for those not blessed to be from there, is butterbeans. I grew up eating out of a quater acre garden as did everyone else and butterbeans were just one of those things everyone grew without much thought going into it. Yes, there were different varieties but to us it basically boiled down to pole or bush, pole most common, and speckled or regular butterbeans.
Most of us bought our seed each year at the feed and grain but some did save seed but that was the exception. Speckled beans were generally requested as bush (jackson wonder) or pole large or small (christmas or florida) plain butterbeans were either pole (seiva or seiva type) or bush (fordhook or henderson).
It was only when I came of an age for my own quarter acre garden that I started paying attention to the exact varieties and understanding the finer points in the differences between them.
Don't get me wrong though to a natural son of the south they are all still butterbeans, lima being a term used by yankees and the closest aproximation to that term being understood to mean a small green butterbean harvested young and tender and prepared as found in the cans at the grocery store. Funny though the most common way we picked and preserved butterbeans was exactly that, picked as green shellies and blanched for two minutes and frozen for a very similar end product on the table.
I shouldn't get so amused at all y'all folks struggling with butterbeans. I guess it's just an eye opener to really appreciate one of those garden vegetables I have always taken for granted.
Well to get this thread to a point I'll list my preferred cultivars and open the floor to comments.
If I had just one favorite it would be the one I grudgingly call a true "baby lima" by my understanding, the best small green butterbean I have ever tasted is hands down Baby Thorogreen. Yes, I know everyone says Cangreen is the same thing but I beg to differ. Similar and a suitable substitute but not as sweet and tender. I attribute this to the fact that there are multiple strains of Thorogreen/Cangreen and they all came out of Henderson Bush. To me the Cangreen taste leans more to the seiva type, drier and starchier. I know the seiva well as that is my mother's favorite and what Dad always planted "just for your mama". Dad is a big fan of speckled butterbeans and always planted Florida for himself.
For pure unadulterated speckled bean flavor I have Jackson Wonder on about a three year rotation. It is hands down the strongest flavored I have grown, many find it to be obnoxious. I grow it on a three year rotation as I to find it to strong for a regular diet but grow and put up enough to satisfy the occasional craving for a strong tasting butterbean.
Both the Florida and Christmas are milder and I have a sneaking appreciation for the Christmas bean as the milder of the two giving good butterbean flavor with the strength of a good speckled bean.
Here I'll digress and explain my feeling on pole versus bush. If it were up to me to pick the beans I'd grow all pole because at 6'2" with a back and pair of knees feeling the effects of forty plus years of hard labor it's much easier to pick standing up compared to squatting or scooting on my butt to pick bush beans. I know it is much more work to set poles and I hate it more and more with each passing year but fortunately I have a better solution, a younger and shorter wife. ;) She much prefers bush to pole as I have a tendency to set poles for my height and not hers so I am going to all bush where ever I can and let her do all the picking.
On the seiva types I have tried I like the form of the Willowleaf but just prefer the flavor and bush form of Thorogreen.
King of the Garden is a real nice large butterbean but the large pole form and slow to bear just isn't for me.
One that has recently been added to my every year rotation is Dixie Butterpea for it's flavor and meatiness that falls somewhere between Thorogreen and Seiva in flavor to me.
The speckled form is good as well just not enough for me to bump something else to make room for it.
This year I'll be trialing Burpee's Improved in my search for a large butterbean for dried beans.
So there it is, I'll post this and see where it goes.