Beans for Oklahoma

macmexOctober 27, 2008

Hey folks, I thought Id start a thread on beans for Oklahoma (& surrounding areas). IÂd like to tell you my criteria for a great bean. There are many opinions out there. This is just mine. There are a couple of things I look for in a great bean. Some comments here are in response to IleneÂs in the "Another Frosty Night for Gardeners in NW OK" thread.

1) Dependability. I want a bean which will dependably produce under a wide range of conditions. For that reason both the Dragon's Tongue and our own family heirloom, yellow podded pole bean (Barksdale) don't make the cut. In my experience, though tasty, Dragon's Tongue is very prone weevil damage. Barksdale often won't set pods when it's hot.

2) Tender pods, even when old: Most modern beans become tough when the pods begin to mature. Most dry beans do this. Some dry beans' pods are simply tough from the get go. But there are some varieties out there which produce pods which are tender right down to when they start to yellow and dry. Many of those varieties also have strings. It seems almost to be indication that one has a tender pod variety, if it has strings. Anyway, my favorites have strings and stay tender for a LONG TIME. My absolute favorite green beans are these old timers when they have filled out shell beans on the inside. I string and snap them and cook them up. ItÂs like getting snaps and shell beans at the same time. Plus, with our busy life style, it's sometime difficult to process our beans soon after picking. These tender hull varieties last a long longer "on the shelf," before processing, than the tough hulled varieties.

3) Prodigious seed production: again, here is where Barksdale falls down. It is a struggle with this bean to produce much seed, and that which it does produce is often small and not very filled out. The best beans I know produce lots of nice, well developed seed. This is nice, not only because we like to eat the seeds, but we also like the ease of maintaining seed stocks, in order to share with others.

In the "Another Frosty Night for Gardeners in NW OK" thread I mentioned the three champions from this yearÂs garden (for me): Tennessee Cutshort, a mix of white greasy pole beans from NC which came to me with the label of "Long Cut Olde Timey Greasy Bean," and "Cherokee Striped Cornhill Bean." All three of these are pole varieties, which I prefer. But this is personal preference. A lot has to do with oneÂs style of food preservation. I do have to say that I enjoy standing while I pick!

Here are a couple other varieties which IÂve tried, which all seemed outstanding:

Tennessee Cutshort (pictured above): an heirloom we received from my wifeÂs great Aunt Clara and her Uncle Doy, back in 1985 (Salem, IL). They, in turn received their seed from a woman named Olive Stroup, who got her seed from her sister, who brought it home with her after a visit to TN around 1950. She told Olive that the variety was grown all over the South. JerrethÂs great aunt & uncle grew this bean exclusively until sometime in the 90Âs when their health no longer permitted. I get first snaps from this bean in 50 days and dry seed in about 87 days, though, this year I planted my first row on May 11 made my first picking in 56 days. I planted the last row on August 8 and not only managed to pick a good deal of beans from it, but even found some dry seed this last Saturday! I can actually plant this bean in the spring and replant, for a fall crop, using seed produce in the same summer. Pods are about 5" long and fill out to be pretty fat. They have heavy strings and stay tender almost to where one would rather save the seed for planting.

Cherokee Striped Cornhill Bean: I only just received this seed this year, from a Seed Savers Exchange member in OH. This is a true Cherokee heirloom, which is why I requested the seed. The seed looks identical to Genuine Cornfield Pole Bean, which is also a fine bean. Seed is beige with brown swirl patterns. Pods can reach up to 9" and have strings. The pods stay tender "to the end," like all my favorites; though they do have a bit stronger bean taste at this point. I only grew two hills of this bean, and that on corn. But I was super impressed with how productive it is. I intend to do a whole cattle panel of this one next year.

Long Cut Olde Timey Greasy Bean: I purchased this seed from a fellow on E-bay, back in 2006. He, in turn, purchased his seed from some old timers in NC, who raised and sold string beans in a farmers market. They were senior citizens who couldnÂt keep it up any longer. This is a mixture of white Greasy beans. All are vigorous climbers and prolific seed producers. They all have heavy strings. The Greasy bean has a little less substantial pod. It dries down faster than others. But it sure produces well. The seed is small, more round than long, and white.

Ruth Bible: An Appalachian heirloom with "Kentucky Wonder brown" colored seed. This heirloom dates back to at least 1832 and maintained for generations by the Boys family. Introduced to the Seed Savers Exchange by Jeff McCormick of the Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. Some descriptions say that this bean has 3.5" pods. But others say 5-6" pods, which is what I experienced. Ruth Bible has vigorous 10Â vines and white flowers. It produces pods a little later than our own Tennessee Cutshort, but apparently stands up to heat a little better. It seems to flower and set pods a little longer into the hottest part of the summer. I only grew this on in 2007 and it seemed to me that the pods might have toughened up a bit more than the Tennessee Cutshort. But with only one season to compare I cannot really say. I was however, extremely impressed with this bean. It is a true multipurpose bean (snap, shell or dry).

Childers Cutshort: This is a "look alike" to our own Tennessee Cutshort. I suspect that they are the same bean, having traveled through different families. I received this bean through Gardenweb member Gene Hosey, who I met in the Heirlooms forum. Gene got his seed from his mother in the fall of 2006, after she and his dad had raised the bean since around 1975. They received their seed from Eddie Childers of Merrimac, KY (Taylor County) around 1975. Like Tennessee Cutshort, Childers Cutshort has more round than long, tan/brown colored seed. Pods are up to 5" long and fat with strings.

IÂve heard great things about Jimenez, and intend to try it. But I hear it is prone to crossing and is difficult for seed production. Rattlesnake seems to bring rave reviews by many. But I think it has pods which toughen with age. RattlesnakeÂs claim to fame appears to be its extreme heat tolerance and productivity. Kentucky Wonder is a great bean. Its only disadvantage to me is that the pods get tough with age. There is no end to the variety available out there.

I hope this stimulates some discussion on varieties and preferences for beans in this region.

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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


What a great topic to discuss! I don't think beans get as much attention as some other veggies, like tomatoes and peppers, and yet they are such a garden staple.

We always grow more beans for green beans than for dry beans but we've grown all kinds over the years. Some years we grow more pole types, and other years more bush just depends on what we're craving when we are selecting our seeds for the spring planting season. I like trying new ones, sometimes as many as 8 or 10 new types in one year, so my 'favorites' change from year to year. So, I am more of a 'dabbler' or 'experimenter' with beans and often try new ones year after year after year.

Our favorites these last few years are any of the flat-podded Roma-type beans, and some of the best ones we've tried in recent years were purchased from Seeds From Italy, which is the U.S. importer/distributor for Franchi Sementi.

Some of our all-time favorite beans include Cherokee Trail of Tears, Christmas Lima, Hidatsu Shield and Hidatsa Red, Willow Leaf Lima, McCasland, Old Homestead, Jacob's Cattle, Royalty Purple Podded Pole Bean, Greasy Grits, etc. I also grow some of the newer hybrid bush green beans because of their high productivity, including Provider, Contender and Top Crop.

Several years ago I began trying some of the beans offered by Native Seed/SEARCH and have been fascinated with the many types, some of which have been grown for centuries, by the native peoples of North America. These are very tough, very hardy and for the most part very drought-tolerant. Quite often the tribal name is part of the bean's name, or their is a regional component to the name. A lot of these are really great for dryland farming or at least they are great on minimal rainfall in drought years.

And, I truly love growing some of the beans as ornamentals, particularly some of the runner beans (Scarlet, Painted Lady, Sunset, White), and some of the different hyacinth beans (dolichos lablab) including the purple-flowered and white-flowered ones. Although they shouldn't do this in our climate, the hyacinth beans often reseed for me.

Since you and I tend to mention a lot of beans not commonly offered in grocery stores (hee hee), I thought I'd mention my favorite sources for heirloom (and also newer hybrid) beans. If I miss any sources that you think I should have mentioned, I hope you'll add them.

Native Seed/Search ( This is a regional seedbank located in the southwestern US which houses approximately 2000 accessions of traditional crops grown by native persons in North America (including Mexico), and often handed down from family to family within a given tribe. About half of the seeds they have are from the traditional Three Sisters: corn, beans and squash. They do not offer all 2,000 seeds, but rotate growouts/offerings to keep all their lines viable and available. They offer an amazing selection of beans, but other crops as well including amaranth, melons, tomatoes, tomatillos, squash, okra, amaranth and black-eyed peas.

Seed Savers Exchange ( In this country, this is the organization most responsible for the preservation of thousands of heirloom varieties of seeds. It is a non-profit organization and you can join and become a member, or you can purchase from their catalog/website. Only a relatively small percentage of the thousands of seedsaver varieties are available on the website or in the catalog. If you join and become a member, you can purchase seed directly from other members (like George and Jerreth) and this gives you access to thousands and thousands of seed accessions. Among the bean seeds in the public catalog are Cherokee Trail of Tears, Hidatsa Red, Jacob's Cattle, Speckled Cranberry, Lazy Housewife, Christmas Lima.....I could go on forever. For the really rare ones, though, you need to purchase a membership and it is well-worth every penny.

When I first started growing heirlooms, it was SSE that introduced me to many of the fascinating varieties.

Southern Exposure Seed Exchange ( is the first commercial firm from whom I purchased heirloom seeds a long time ago, probably one year before I found Seed Savers Exchange. Southern Exposure is located in Virgina but their seeds grow well in most parts of the US, including here. They have a very good selection of heirloom beans, including Ruth Bible, Potomac, Turkey Craw, McCaslan, Blue Cocoa, Lousisiana Purple Pole, Willow Leaf Lima, Black Valentine, and many others.

Sandhill Preservation Center ( This is a small operation run by the Drowns Family and they offer an amazing selection, not just of heirloom vegetable seed, but also heirloom sweet potatoes and heirloom poultry. Some of the beans they offer include Greasy Grits, Carolina Red Lima, Frosty Lima, Honeycutt Pioneer Cutshort, Brown-speckled Greasy, and Red Speckled Fall Bean. Glenn Drowns, by the way, has been involved with Seed Savers Exchange for many years, and is the breeder of my all-time favorite watermelon, Blacktail Mountain.

Baker Creek Heirloom Seed ( This is a relatively young company and it has grown very, very rapidly. I think I've been buying seeds from them for probably 6 or 7 years now. They offer a wide variety of heirloom seed, not just from the US, but from around the world. They also offer heirloom seeds from the Missouri Ozarks. Some of their beans include Old Homestead, McCaslan 42, Jacob's Cattle, Cherokee Trail of Tears, Missouri Wonder, Red Rice bean, several types of Hyacinth Beans, Broad Windsor Fava, Aquadulce Spanish Fave and Sadie's Horse Bean.

Seeds From Italy ( This is the U.S. importer and distributor for seeds from Franchi Sementi. I've only ordered from them for the last 3 or 4 years, but have enjoyed trying their varieties, including Borlotto of Vigevano, Smeraldo Roma, Linqua di Fuoco (Tongue of Fire), and they offer several fava beans not easily found here, including Super Marconi, Supersimonia, and Early Purple Fava.

Victory Seed ( This is an outstanding firm that offers a terrific variety of heirlooms, including Riggin's Stick, Promise Half-Runner Bean, King of the Garden Lima, Appaloosa, Bolita, Raquel, European Soldier (you can see the little soldier on the bean!), and Rio Zappo.

Seeds of Change ( Although smaller and perhaps less well known than many of the other seed companies mentioned, they offer an amazing variety of heirloom vegetables, flowers, and herbs. Some of their beans include Aztec half-runer, Jack and the Beanstalk Pole Bean, Hutterite Dry Bean, Indian Woman Yellow Dry Bean, Cascade Giant Pole Bean, Guatemalan Fava, Edamame Sayasusume, and Mitla Black Tepary Bean.

Finally, if anyone is in an experimental-type mood and wants to grow a lot of types of beans without spending a fortune on bean seed, here's one way to do it. Go to a grocery store that carries organic food. I usually go to either the Whole Foods or Central Market stores in the D-FW metroplex. Go to the bean row and you'll find an amazing variety. Sometimes you can find a 'bean soup mix' that will have at least a couple of dozen different kinds of beans in the mix. Go ahead and plant a few rows of them. It is an adventure all summer long, seeing what grows from the bean mix, and seeing what you get!


    Bookmark   October 27, 2008 at 4:19PM
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Dawn, I went to Purcell Mountain Farms' website where they sell "gourmet beans" and bought several interesting beans. I had to buy them in one pound packages, however, and there were many of them that I couldn't find anything about on the web by Googling the name of the bean. I packaged some in little zip-lock bags and sold them at my spring garage sale, but they didn't sell as well as I expected. A couple of weeks ago took a cup of each kind of beans and poured each cup into a quart canning jar, soaked them, then drained and added enough boiling water to fill the jar and processed them at 10 pounds for 90 minutes as recommended to me by someone on the cooking forum. Now I've got 14 jars of cooked beans to try out to see which flavors I prefer. It was kinda hard to identify which beans were which after they processed because they all kinda ended up looking alike, except for size.

George, I planted some rattlesnake beans, but they didn't make it. My growing space is at a premium and I planted them amongst morning glories and dipper gourds and maybe they just got crowded out.

The yard long bean, and I know it isn't a true bean, just doesn't have that true bean taste, although they were fun to grow and pick. They were prolific seed-makers as well. I used a lot of them in stir-fry and I have canned some but we are still eating what I stuck in the freezer so I've yet to do the "taste test" of the canned ones. The aphids were really drawn to them and so consequently I ended up with a lot of ladybugs in my garden, which was fine with me. I haven't made up my mind yet about whether I will plant them next year. I do want to try Rattlesnake again and of course I will be planting Tennessee Cutshort. I have a red lima I want to try as well. That leaves room for only a couple more kinds, preferably not of varieties that will cross with what I'm already planning to plant.

I got so many beans off my Scarlet Runner and Painted Lady, I'm considering cooking some of them up. Was it you, George, who said that they were pretty "beany" tasting? I was raised on Pinto and those big white lima beans that are common in grocery stores, my favorite being the lima. DH was raised on Great Northern, which I'm not that crazy about, but I have cooked them in rotation with the other two for many, many years. I only recently discovered what a vast community of beans there are. It's awesome. --Ilene

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 8:34AM
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I looked at a picture of Rattlesnake at the Victory Seeds website (Thanks Dawn!). The seed seems similar to both Genuine Cornfield and Cherokee Striped Cornhill, both of which have strings. Does Rattlesnake have strings too?

I've grown Insuk's Wang Kong, a runner bean, for two years now. It does better than most runner beans, in our heat. But it still hasn't made enough seed for me to perpetuate it. This year we ate some pods; first by mistake, and then, just as the freeze was coming, on purpuse. They were absolutely delicious. One can grow runner beans, yard longs or limas between varieties of regular beans, as a barrier crop, to prevent cross pollination. I understand that both runners and limas are more crossing than normal (p. vulgaris) varieties. I only grow one lima per year, to prevent crossing.

I still have seed to White Seeded Potomac, which I need to grow out for renewal. This is an excellent pole variety which was carried over the Oregon Trail, to California. Later it was distributed by a newspaper, for use in WWII victory gardens. It's a good bean, and prolific. I do, however, prefer a tender hull/string bean. Potomac pods are about like a Kentucky Wonder.

You know, I'm positive that some beans, even p. vulgaris varieties are more or less prone to crossing than others. I've heard that Jimenez (one you might like, Dawn)crosses very easily with other beans. I've heard of a Cherokee mix of beans which come in many different colors, which crosses REALLY easily with other beans. But, for instance, I've never seen nor heard of KY Wonder or Tennessee Cutshort cross with another bean. After 1986 I started giving my beans a little distance for isolation and I have only had one cross (between cowpeas) since then.

Beans are one vegetable/staple which has a huge diversity, and which could be greatly helped by seed savers. One of my soap boxes is how good it would be if individual gardeners would adopt JUST ONE rare vegetable and keep it going for a long time. This is how most of my favorites made it to this modern age. When my kids are completely out on their own, perhaps upon marriage, each will receive, for instance, a small sack of Tennessee Cutshort seed. That's one of our family heirlooms.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 11:51AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Hi Y'all,

I forgot to mention Evergreen Seeds, so I've linked them below. They have a lot of oriental-type beans, including several of the runner types and a lot of the long asparagus beans too.


I enjoyed reading the thread about Jimenez and think it sounds a lot like Tongue of Fire. Maybe I'll grow it right beside Tongue of Fire next year and see if they look and perform the same. I was amazed a Zeedman's description of all the crossed beans he got from it....I've never had beans cross like that and I don't grow any of them in isolation really.

I wish my dad, grandparents and aunts/uncles who gardened HAD saved seed and passed it down, because it takes a lot of searching and experimentation to find veggie seeds that produce stuff as good as what I remember from my childhood! But, the 1960s and 1970s were an era with tons of new hybrids appearing (and disappearing!) every year and they were into trying all the new hybrids that promised better production and better insect resistance. (Sadly, as we all know so well by now, the hybrids often lack good flavor because they aren't bred for flavor.)

And, George, one of the reasons I love Victory Seed so much is because they try very hard to keep the histories of the various seeds straight and I appreciate that.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 12:32PM
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You're right about the value of the history. Also, it's been my observation that many of the old timers, and an even higher percentage of indigenous folk, simply didn't/don't think in the same terms as we're talking about. To these, the faithful guardians of so much of our world's genetic resources, a bean is... a bean. They just happen to raise really important ones. My wife's grandparents had maintained a yellow podded pole bean, called Barksdale, for nearly 50 years, when I first met them. Shortly after Jerreth and I married I thought to present them with seed to Georgia Long, a very nice heirloom yard long bean. They liked Georgia Long so much, that a couple years later, when we came through on a visit from Mexico, we discovered that they had completely dropped Barksdale: didn't have any seed left at all! It never occurred to them that something wonderful would be lost if they dropped this old bean. Fortunately, we had the seed and we'll grow it til we can't grow anymore. But it's really important that someone keep some of these older varieties around, even when sometimes they don't compete with the newest, best or most novel.

Barksdale Wax Pole Bean

I grow Calico Willowleaf Pole Lima, a sieva type lima, which I received back in 1984, from a SSE member in KY. Yet my family doesn't care for limas. Still, there was a time that I was the only one left with this seed. Sometime I ought to tell you folks the story on Calico Willowleaf Pole lima. That one got down to less than ten seeds before I brought it back.


    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 4:25PM
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Do tell the story of Calico Willowleaf!

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 6:53PM
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I was never a lima lover either until I tried this recipe. Now they are second only to pintos.

From Woman's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery

Beans, Creole Style
1 pound dried large Lima beans
6 cups water
1/2 pound bacon, diced (I sometimes use ham)
1 onion, chopped
1 green pepper, diced
1 Tablespoon all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons seasoned salt
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
2 teaspons prepared mustard
1 teaspoon Worcestershire
2 tablespoons brown sugar
2 1/3 cups (one pound 3-ounce can) tomatoes

Cover washed beans with water, bring to boil, and boil for 2 minutes. Cover and let stand for 1 hour; then cook until tender. Drain. Cook bacon in large skillet until crisp. Remove bacon and drain. Add onion and green pepper to fat in skillet and cook for 5 minutes. Blend in flour, seasonings, and sugar. Add tomatoes and simmer, uncovered, for 10 minutes. Add beans and heat. Sprinkle with bacon. Makes 6 ot 8 servings.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2008 at 8:43PM
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I'll see about trying the recipe sometime! Thanks!

I realize now that I was mixed up. Calico Willow Leaf (and that's the right way to spell it) came from NC. Here's what I have on this bean:

Calico Willow leaf Pole Lima

The Calico Willow Leaf Pole pole lima was one of the first seeds I got through the Seed Savers Exchange. I requested and received the seed from Jack Rice of Laurinburg, NC, in 1985. At the time we were living in Winona Lake, IN; and it was there that I first grew it. I requested it simply because I was relatively new at seed saving and had "collecting fever." I wanted to try everything and I didnt have a lima. I joined the SSE in 1984. Thats when my yearbooks start. From my perspective this one was only offered by Jack Rice in 1984 and 1985, before he dropped out of the SSE. I was the only other person ever to offer it, though Im sure I sent out a couple samples to other members. When we were getting ready to go live and serve in Mexico I sent samples of every rare/endangered seed I had, to the SSE headquarters.

Jack Rice had a huge collection of limas, both bush and pole. My guess is that he didnt use very good isolation. My first planting of this bean, in 1985 produced some plants which were not willow leaf and some which were bush. I selected according to the SSE description and after the first year it always bred true.

In 1985 I grew it in IN. In 1986, I had my dad plant it in NJ. In 1987 I grew it in Edinburg, TX (practically on the Mexico border). Interestingly, I found a note that even though we left to travel in Mexico, through the hottest months of the summer, those Calico Willow Leaf limas survived and produced on into the fall. That was an incredible feat of survival, as summer time temps regularly went above 110 F. and the plants received NO water during that time!

Sometime in 1987 or 1988 my father, in NJ, who had grown out almost every bean in my collection, mixed some of these seeds together and used them to make a lamp base. That lamp still sits on a table in my folks home. From 1988 through 1992 my family and I lived in Tlatlauquitepec, Puebla; at 7500 elevation in a high cold rain forest. Just during the first two years in Tlatlauqui we had to change houses/apartments 6 times. During those five years everyone in my family nearly died at least once, the kids, at least twice, due to serious illnesses. Gardening was hard. Most of my USA varieties failed. Seeds I carried expired due to extreme humidity, even though I kept them sealed in glass jars with silica gel. During this time I lost most of those seeds. Some of my tomato seeds survived until 1994, when I got to try them in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo (and they failed). For two years, in Tlatlauqui, I did manage to grow out the Warsaw Buff Pie Pumpkin. It was touch and go because of the coolness. Barksdale Wax Pole bean actually produced in Tlatlauqui, but a little old man ripped up my vines and ran off with them, effectively wiping out my last seed supply.

In 1993, after a year in the US, and not having a garden, we moved to Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. Ixmiquilpan is at 5500 elevation, in the Bajío, a slowly descending plain. There, though it was a desert climate, we had abundant irrigation and temperatures were more moderate. We had heat in the summer, though almost always cool nights. First frost was usually sometime in November and last frost around the middle of February. There, while teaching at a Bible Institute, in a nearby town, I got to put in a garden. It took a little time, but I soon discovered that I could grow beans and squash. Tomatoes never did make it in Hidalgo.

I should mention, every year when I receive my SSE winter year book I eagerly go through it. I no longer look for more seeds to grow. I look to see if anyone is growing any of the seeds I have contributed. No one ever listed Calico Willow Leaf Lima besides Jack Rice, and myself. My seed supply expired sometime before 1993.

Around 1998 I visited my parents, in NJ, and happened to be sitting in their living room next to that lamp. I spotted a few of the seeds, and it occurred to me that since my last listing in 1988, I had not seen anyone offer this bean! I asked permission, opened the lamp, and sorted through the seeds, which by this time were at least 10 years old. I managed to get about six of them. It felt kind of weird to be holding six little seeds in my hand and to realize that they might well be the last ones, of this variety on earth! I took them back to Mexico, and planted them in 1999. One or two grew. I was delighted! However, when the vines had green pods on them, I had to go away on a trip, and upon my return I discovered that some kid had yanked up the vines and run off with them! I was horrified! I was MAD! I decided to track that kid. Since he had run off, through a cornfield, breaking leaves and leaving foot prints in the soil, I was able to track him. Within a couple hundred feet I found about two feet of bedraggled vine with a couple of pods still attached. Eureka! I managed to save 10 seeds.

It took until 2003 for me to multiply those into a respectable amount of seed, and, once again, I started offering them through the SSE. Since 2003, I believe Ive gotten samples into the hands of about 15 people. I recorded the names and address of eight of them, the rest were members of the dairy goat club we belonged to, here in Oklahoma.

I cant lay hands on all the SSE yearbooks right now. But I think that only one other person has multiplied and re-offered this seed. I suspect that the Seed Savers Exchange will be re-offering it sometime, since I did send them another sample, and in recent years they have really been working on their organization.

From this story you can see why I believe it's important to maintain and grow varieties for a long time. One never knows how well others will do this. I also believe it important to keep records concerning who has received such seeds. On more than one occasion I've been able to recover a variety by requesting it from someone who got it from me.

Calico Willow Leaf Pole Lima is a very vigorous variety and produces LOTS of little sieva type beans. The whole plant turns into a cloud of flowers, which attract bees and other pollinators like crazy. The seed is reddish putty colored with black markings.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 1:17PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


What a tale! It is amazing what you have been through in trying to save this one type of bean.

Reading your story about Calico Willow Leaf Pole Lima reminded me that I forgot to mention one more great source for heirloom beans. It is much smaller than the other sources but it does a great job of documenting the histories of the varieties it offers. It is affiliated with Clemson University, so has a lot of heirloom southern varieties like SESE. It is the South Carolina Foundation Seed Association and I know that, for 2008, they had several lima beans, and I am pretty sure at least a couple of them were willow leaf varieties. Maybe they have one similar to yours?

I'll find it and link it below.


    Bookmark   October 29, 2008 at 1:38PM
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Here's another link. I have never ordered from Sustainable Mountain Agriculture. But if I were shopping for new varieties to try, I believe this is where I'd go first. Bill Best, the author, has the best philosophy in regards to what makes a great bean, that I know of. I'm providing the link to his article on beans.


    Bookmark   October 30, 2008 at 7:12AM
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I've been to Bill Best's site before. It's well done and very interesting.

You have had a very colorful life and your children have had experiences so unlike that of most American kids, who rush home from school to plant themselves in front of the game console, moving only to come to supper and go to bed. I worry about the future of our country sometimes.

I went to the seed saver's exchange site but it seems to be closed for reorganization right now. I wanted to find out how much it costs to join. My mother took out a membership many, many years ago. I seem to remember she found out about it from an ad or an article in Grit magazine, of which she and I were avid readers. I have gotten some of my best recipes from them. That may have been where she got the seed for a type of squash I've been looking for and have been unable to find anywhere. I wonder if it is one of the varieties that died out. It looked like an okra pod, in size and shape. The seeds were round and black, like okra. But it tasted like, and had the consistency, of squash. She would slice them and put them in stir fry and the slices looked like little "cogwheels" from a clock. I've had edible gourd suggested to me, and someone sent me some seed, but the seed doesn't look like I remember. I've bought seed from the SSE catalog but I don't remember what I bought from them now. I was working full time at the time and wasn't able to tend my garden very well. Whatever I grew that year probably died in the July heat.

When I presented a bag of sweet potatoes to the young man who treats our house for ants during the summer, and who does our termite inspections, he laughed and said, "Is there anything you DON'T grow?" and I had to say, well, yes... corn... watermelon... pumpkins... and lots more varieties of beans! I have not been using my chain link fence for anything other than keeping out the dogs that roam the park so I'm trying to build up the soil along it so that I can plant pole beans there. Having just a back yard to grow things in is very limiting and I do wish I had more land but I guess that's just not in the cards. I just have to be more creative in finding ways to grow things in the room that I have. I have one rectangular spot about 5'x 20' between the ends of my raised beds and my apple trees, where I can grow a stand of something-or-other. This year it was Cow Horn okra. The woman who sent it to me said it had been in her family for years and she just sent it as an afterthought in with some other things. I thought it was wonderful. The pods, even if they got huge, were still tender. Now I have enough in the freezer to last a couple of years, and some seed, although some of the seed turned grey rather than black, so not sure if that will be viable?? I still have zucchini in the freezer from the year before so maybe I can grow some corn or pumpkins there next year.

That's incredible that bean seed would stay viable stored in a lamp base! You'd think the heat from the bulb would've ruined them years earlier. You truly went the extra mile (or more) in keeping this variety alive. ==Ilene

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 10:48AM
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I remember that squash. Eventually, it'll probably "surface" and I'll be able to tell you more. Perhaps Dawn will remember right off.

Hey, one can grow A LOT in little space, when creative.

Our family believes, to this day, that living as we did, during the children's formative years, was a fantastic blessing. Every one of them is quite open in saying that they'd like to raise their own children (someday) in much the same way. There were many factors which made it a blessing. One was the fact that we were ALWAYS distinct from the people around us. This caused us to draw close as a family. While in Mexico we were foreigners. The same was pretty true when in the USA (especially for our children). One is richer for having relationships with people of other cultures. Every culture has something which is superior. The indigenous people in Mexico are very social and creative. They learn to do with what they have. They're inclined to work with their hands, even when sitting at leisure. Handicrafts are highly valued. Conversation is an art. The Mestizo culture also has its strengths, some of which bleed over (and between) it and the indigenous culture. Courtesy is an art. After being immersed in these cultures one learns how to show respect in little things said, and how they are said. There is pleasure in this kind of interchange, for both parties. There is little if any generation gap in these cultures. Old, young and middle aged freely socialize. Our children missed that greatly when we returned (of all places to the NE USA)!

Ilene, here's the info you need to join the SSE.


Seed Savers Exchange
3094 North Winn Road
Decorah IA 52101

Standard Membership: $35.00
Fixed income membership: $30
Supporting membership: $100
Lifetime Membership: $1000
Flower and Herb exchange: $10
Gift membership: $35

You can send a check or your credit card info (type, card #, expiration date & phone #), and you need to supply your address, for mailing purposes. I think you could do this on a sheet of paper and mail it in, no problem.

There is a note at the bottom of my form, which says that $15 of an annual membership is considered the cost of goods and services (for publications); the remainder is tax-deductable.

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 11:16AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

I don't remember a squash like that, but it does sound like one of the oddballs in the squash family, and there are a few oddballs.....including, bitter melons, luffa gourds (edible while small and young), snake or serpent gourds, cucuzzi or African winter squash.

I've been to Bill Best's website before too, but enjoyed reading his bean article. I am going to grow fewer tomatoes and more beans and other stuff next year assuming I have a garden at all. If the current drought, now in its 15th month, continues, I may not have a garden at all. Only 22" of rain this year so far, and we are at the point now that the ground is so dry that tree and plant roots will burn underground when we have wildfires.

If we don't get a lot of rain between now and February, I may not plant a garden at all. If rain isn't falling, irrigation just costs too much.


    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 1:39PM
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I've been sent luffa and cucuzzi seed, but they don't look the same as I remember. I didn't plant any of them this year because I had seed for dipper gourd and an egg-shaped gourd that I wanted to grow and I didn't want to risk crossing. The thing about the squash was that it didn't grow big like it would've if it had been one of the gourds left on the vine too long. It only grew to about large okra size or maybe just a little longer and then it started to dry out, making seed. I think it would've made an impression on Mom, and therefore on me, had the squash gotten really large.

As it turned out, the egg-shaped gourd seed didn't come up and I used all the seed I was given. The dipper gourd had a very short handle on it and wasnt quite what I was looking for. But it was interesting, nonetheless.

We lived in northern Indiana for awhile when our children were little. We bought a house in an area that we shared with Mexicans and Puerto Ricans. I enjoyed very much getting to know my neighbors. I remember one of my fiesty Puerto Rican women friends whose husband was doing his best to assert his control over her. Every morning before he left for work, he would take a wire loose under the hood of her car. And as soon as he was gone, Anna would go out and reconnect it and go where she needed to go, then disconnect it after she got home for the day. It was hilarious, especially since she got such a bang out of it. My Mexican neighbors and I visited over the fence a lot. They went fishing with DH and the kids. Ramon liked to experiment with garden oddities. He bought a Tomato/Potato plant one time that was just a tomato plant rooted in a scooped out sprouted potato. Ramon's Papa was a big Cubs fan and went to the stadium in Chicago a lot, even though he got "beaned" with a stray ball twice, it didn't discourage him from going. What I really enjoyed and maybe it was just them or maybe it was their culture, was their sense of wonder at things. We laughed a lot, over that fence.

Dawn, I just hate that you had such a disappointing year. Instead of "The Sun'll Come Up" maybe we should sing, "The Rain'll Come Down, TOMORROW!" I hope you're able to have a garden next year. But I know how you feel, because I felt that way, too with all the rain that we had early in the year. ==Ilene

    Bookmark   October 31, 2008 at 6:21PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


If only it had rained! If only rain would start falling now! November is the key month for us. If rain starts falling and filling up ponds and creeks in November, we can relax and expect a good winter/spring. If the November rains fail to fall, we are in real trouble here.

This is normally the time of year when I am reflecting on the veggie garden....what worked and what didn't and what changes I want to make this year. I start compiling lists and checking my seed supply and figuring out what kind of seed I need to get for spring planting. (This thread is making me want to plant a gazillion beans!)

The reality of this drought period, though, is that there is no point in planning a spring veggie garden if rain doesn't fall. Our October rainfall was a little over an inch, and most years we get 3" to 4" of rain in October, so I am concerned about that. We usually get quite a lot of rainfall here in Nov.-Dec. and we count on that. If we don't get it this year, I will not be ordering seeds for the veggie garden.


    Bookmark   November 1, 2008 at 10:00AM
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Dawn, I certainly do hope you get rain. I check your weather whenever we get rain, and am amazed how precipitation seems to avoid your area!

We ate the last of our fresh green beans yesterday. There are still some seeds to shell, out in the shed. My Black Greasys are so late to mature that I have to pull the vines and let them dry inside.

Also, the Oaxaca Cream (another greasy, but from Mexico) is just beginning to show signs of maturing seed. I took it inside for a couple days. But now it's back in it's normal site, next to one of our sheds, where it gets more sunlight. Oaxaca Cream was given to me by a Mexican friend with relatives in the Ixtlán de Juarez, Oaxaca area. There, they would plant this bean next to a smallish tree (like a lemon) and let it climb up into the branches. It produced an abundance of superb string beans and nice oval shaped, cream colored dry beans. Our friends once gave us a mess of these beans, which they were now growing in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. They were delicious. I forgot that they gave us a little sack of seed, and four or five years later (and now living in NJ), while looking for some Tennessee Cutshort seed, for a second planting, I came upon the sack of beans. It wasn't labeled, and due to oxidation, the seed looked brown. So, I planted it. The vines obviously weren't Tennessee Cutshort, as they were purple flowered. Anyway, that year we had an exceptionally late frost and Oaxaca Cream managed to mature to the point that I could dry the seed indoors. It looked a little shriveled, but it was viable. That was in 2003, and I have tried a number of times to grow it out again for seed, without success. So, last year I sent some seed to a SSE member in HI, and, this spring it hit me that I could try growing this one in a bucket. Both avenues seem to have panned out. I'm going to exchange some seed with the SSE member, so we both have more diversity. She is almost certainly going to adopt this variety long term, which is WONDERFUL!

Incidentally, here's a tip for you, if you ever find a bean, say in a farmers' market, which you really like, but whose seed is unavailable for whatever reason. Most of the time you can take snap beans, dry them and shell out the resulting little seeds. They won't last very long, perhaps just till next spring; and they'll look awful. But you can get viable seed this way.


    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 6:59AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I can't explain what is wrong with our weather, but it surely is "broken". We always have erratic rainfall and little consistency from one year to the next, but it has been just dreadful since August 2007, with 13 of the last 15 months having 'below average' rainfall. I wonder when we are going to have 'above average' rainfall so we can restore our averages to 'normal'?

You know, when agricultural 'experts' talk about hybrid veggies, they always talk about how they are better producers than heirlooms, but my experiences have been the opposite. Here in Love County, when the rains don't come and I stop watering because the water bill has gotten ridiculously high, the plants that continue to produce with no rainfall and no irrigation are always the toughest heirlooms.

If the current weather trends here continue into 2009, my garden will have nothing but heirlooms and probably a lot of okra, beans, black-eyed peas, summer squash and corn, and only a small number of heirloom tomatoes and peppers, and maybe an even smaller number of winter squash (Seminole grows great dryland), and muskmelons. If we have some winter rains, I will plant some cool season crops like onions, potatoes, carrots, broccoli and cabbage.

I need to sort through all my heirloom bean and blackeyed pea seed and try to figure out which ones would do best if rain doesn't fall. Prolonged drought takes some of the fun out of gardening!


    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 9:31AM
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George, that is good to know that the little beans will sometimes germinate. I've been throwing those away and maybe I could've had Fortex again next year if I'd saved the small shriveled seed. So much to learn. --Ilene

    Bookmark   November 2, 2008 at 10:17AM
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lakedallasmary(8 - North Central TX)


I requested some red willow leaf limas from SSE this year.

I hate to order stuff from that far north, since it may have gotten used to rain and cool weather.

I am comparing 5 limas this year. I will pick the one that grows best and grow that next year. I did not know no one is re-offering your willow. I know someone offered it this year, if might be sse. I am not sitting in front og my yearbook right now.

My personal belief is we should all share the responsibility of trying to at least re-offering it one time, if the variety did well.

I always re-offer what I can manage to get to perform in this harsh Texas climate. If the variety dies or is sickly, I of course can't re-offer it. Makes me pout to not be able to reoffer, but what can I do? I at least make the effort. I am new to SSE, so I guess I worry too much about not being able to reoffer. My first year to garden I requested 5 things. I was only able to reoffer 1 of them. I was so upset. But I had no clue, that gardening was such a challenge here. 3 things did not even sprout. and the other I re-offered after another try the next year.

The next year, I requested 1 thing and re-offered it plus a few things I got from elsewhere.

The next year I requested three peas. Can't reoffer since not a one of them set any peas. well, maybe a pod or two.

Anyway, I think a post like yours should encourage others to step up to the plate, and grow and offer this seed, especially since all that little seed went through.

As I said, garden is (or will be soon) full this year. but I will try to grow it within the next few years and reoffer if I can. I know limas cross easy so only will grow one type in seed saving years.

I have only been in SSe a couple of years, but as you said, don't see my seed being reoffered. Kinda wonder why as legumes are easy to save, if you can get them to grow in the climate you have.



    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 6:56PM
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owiebrain(5 MO)

What a wonderful thread!

I've not yet managed to devote much time or attention to beans, although I've grown them. I'd like to change that and have plans for it this year. I don't have many varieties at this point but would love to get a couple of good, multipurpose beans ordered this fall. Just like George said above:

"It is a true multipurpose bean (snap, shell or dry)."

So Ruth Bible fits. What about the others mentioned above?

By the way, this year I have to choose from the following that I have on hand:

Black Turtle
Jacobs Cattle
Vermont Cranberry
Blue Marbut(t)
Kentucky Wonder
Uncle Steves Italian

Any recommendations from those that come close to fitting the multipurpose bill? (And aren't Anasazi and Jacob's Cattle really the same bean? I think I remember reading that somewhere...)


    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 11:11PM
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Diane, I read recently that Anasazi and Jacob's Cattle are not identical. But I don't have experience growing Anasazi, and haven't grown Jacob's Cattle for over 20 years. I suspect that Uncle Steve's might fit my definition of multipurpose. Kentucky Wonder would also. I'm not sure about Blue Marbut. It might. All those I mentioned above, except, if I recall correctly Barksdale fit that description.

Mary, just keep plugging away. You'll figure out that climate and get to where you can re-offer more.

Gotta run for now!

George, in VERY SOGGY Tahlequah, OK

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 8:14AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I have read that many people think Anasazi and Jacob's Cattle are the same bean, but I am sure that's true. I haven't grown them side-by-side to compare them, though, so I can't say. Jacob's Cattle has performed better for me than Anasazi, but I grew them in years that had very different weather so that probably is not a great comparison either.

Of the beans you listed, I think both Vermont Cranberry and Kentucky Wonder (Old Homestead) are outstanding multipurpose beans. Does Uncle Steve's Italian grow well for you because I was under the impression that it doesn't do great in hot climates?

I like both Ruth Bible and McCaslan for multi-purpose beans, and I got a couple of different bean varieties from George at the April swap in OKC and I am looking forward to trying them if the soil ever dries up enough to plant them.

Hi George, For once in my life (and maybe the only time) I can safely say we probably are just as soggy as you are--we've had 13" of rain in the last week, more is expected today, and our place is a lake. I have no idea when the ground will be dry enough to plant beans, which is on my "to do" list for this week.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 8:56AM
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Well, I have planted beans in my raised beds and they are up. I hope they don't rot before this wet spell is over, but being in raised beds does afford more drainage than otherwise. So I'm hopeful.

I have two bean trellises, each made of a long stock panel. They are at either end of two of my raised beds, bent into an "upside-down U" so that both ends are fastened down into the side of a raised bed, and that makes a nice growing area for beans, over the walkway between them. I can stand under the "U" in the walkway and pick, though for the top of the hoop I have to have a step-stool. This also makes maximum use of my growing area. This year, on one trellis, I have planted red noodle bean, which is not really a bean, I know, but... , and Lazy Housewife. At the other trellis, I have planted Calico Willow Leaf and Tennessee Cutshort. I need to plant some rattlesnake somewhere and I need to find a place to plant Olde Timey Greasy.

I wonder if some of those Olde Timey Greasy are not Lazy Housewife, George? Didn't you say they were a 'mixture' of white beans? Some of them sure look like LH. BTW, I had a lot of dried up wrinkley Lazy Housewife that I tried, as an experiment, to see if they would germinate in spite of their looks, and they didn't. Fortunately I also had a stash of nice white ones left from a couple of years ago, and some of them are germinating.

I really love the Lazy Housewife bean. It's very prolific during early summer and produces a nice round string-free bean. But, like you pointed out, George, it does have a small window of opportunity for picking before it toughens. And once the heat of summer sets in, you might as well pull it up because it won't produce much in the heat and after it cools down the beans from the surviving vines pretty much are only good for seed, if that.

I planted some of Insuk's Wang Kong beans at the grape arbor this year. My grape vines aren't doing very well so I figured I might as well get SOME good out of the arbor. I also planted bushel gourd there. I was surprised when Jim sent the beans, to see that they look very much like the scarlet runner and the painted lady beans that I grew last year. While both these beans were beautiful, they didn't set pods until fall, and when they did the pods were fat and furry, so I didn't try eating any of the pods. I got a lot of dry beans, and some apparently wintered over, as I found a few sprouting this spring in the raised bed. That surprised me! So I'm looking forward to seeing if Insuk's bean performs any differently.

I don't plant beans that I can easily get in cans or bags at the store. It just seems a waste of time for me. Someone jogged my memory about the "speckled butter bean" that my mother would sometimes use when I was a kid. I haven't seen bags of that in stores for a long time. I don't remember what the bean looked like any more. They were either light brown with white speckles or the other way around, I think. Our local stores quit carrying them about the same time they started offering the black turtle bean, which was never sold locally when I was a kid. And I guess that makes a point for staying alert and not taking "common" beans for granted, as trends change and something you're used to picking up at the grocery may not always be offered.

Another point I want to make is that I mentioned in a post from last year about canning beans. I'm here to tell you that canning dry beans is wasted effort. The long pressure cooking time required affects the texture of the beans and takes something away from the taste. I won't be doing that again. It may be convenient to pop open a jar of cooked beans, but nothing beats crock-pot cooking for great-tasting beans, at least in my opinion. I also have found that since new timing rules have been put out for canning green beans, the end-product is not as good. This may be an unpopular opinion and they would flame me for the statement I'm going to make over on the canning forum, but I'm going back to how I canned green beans before those new rules came out. I've eaten green beans canned this way for 62 years. Only once in my life have I ever have food poisoning and that was from a bad frozen pot-pie, not the green beans. The new canning rules also ruins my dill pickle recipe that I've used since I got it from DH's mother. She used that recipe for probably 30 years. Add my 30 on top of that and that's 60 years of great pickles with no one being sick.

--Ilene, in SOGGY Dewey

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 10:06AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Diane, In my response I said "but I am sure that's true" but what I meant to say is "but I am not sure that's true"..Aargh....I need a proofreader.

Ilene, If the beans are up and growing, I think they are a whole lot less likely to rot or die. Of course, at the rate y'all get rain up there, I suppose they could die of waterlogging, but maybe they'll just grow like crazy insead.

Do you remember what color the speckled butter beans were once they cooked? I think Jackson's Wonder is speckled, and so are Henderson's Bush and Florida Speckled Butter Pole Bean. I'm sure there are many other heirloom speckled butter beans, but those are the ones I've grown.

Ilene, I am getting spoiled and hardly can anything at all any more unless I want to make pickles, jelly or jam. Between dehydrating and freezing, I spend so much less time in the kitchen! Of course, we don't have ice storms here that knock out our power for days like y'all have up there, so I don't have to worry about the deep freeze defrosting. If I did, though, I'd get a generator for the freezer. LOL

I hate it when they change canning procedures. It is hard enough for me to remember how to do it "correctly" to begin with and once they make a change, I never can remember it and have to look it up.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 10:38AM
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What a great thread! I missed it first time around. Thanks for the bump!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 1:25PM
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Dawn, it seems like the beans, once cooked, were a light brown. Oh, they were yummy!

I have a 23cf chest freezer but it seems like it's always full of meat and frozen veggies bought on sale, apple slices, shredded zucchini, strawberries bought in season, plum puree for future jam making, beef and chicken broth, etc., etc. This doesn't leave me enough room to store frozen tomatoes, peaches, pears, applesauce and green beans. So I can them. Everything but the green beans can be done in a water bath and I much prefer that method. Takes less time, once you figure in the bringing up and down of the pressure, and I think the end product is prettier. There's always some siphoning when I pressure can. I've tried all sorts of "fixes" but I never seem to be able to control it.

We were really lucky to have escaped the kind of damage they had only 50 miles to the south of us during that ice storm, a year or so ago. We lost power but only for the night. It's scarey going to bed by candle-light, knowing it's bitterly cold outside and not knowing if your water lines will be frozen solid by morning. We bought a generator after that, but have never used it. It's reassuring to know that we can at least keep our furnace blower and freezer going (but probably not at the same time) if something like that does happen to us.

I really enjoy making jam and pickles. The new procedures call for a BWB of 5 minutes for jam now. Which to my thinking seems to make it a little over-cooked. I never have trouble with my jam sealing, using a canning flat and a screw band. My mother used to seal her jam just with paraffin. Often there'd be a layer of mold right under the paraffin. She would just pry out the paraffin, scoop out the top layer of jam with the mold on it with a spoon and throw that part away. Then if the rest of what was in the jar smelled like it was supposed to we'd eat it! I don't think I ever saw her throw out a whole jar of jam. Maybe I'm just lucky to be alive. LOL

I made pickle relish last year, using good parts of green tomatoes that the birds or turtles had helped themselves to, some onion, my homegrown peppers, often also bitten into by some critter or other, and some spices. I didn't water bath it but it was boiling when I put it in the jar and it all sealed right away. We're not big relish eaters, but I always have some when we have hotdogs and I put it in my potato salad. I'm getting hungry for some good ol' bread and butter pickles and my cucumbers are up so maybe it'll happen this year! I'm kind of afraid I'm not going to have any peppers this year, though. I can't seem to get the seed to germinate!

But seriously, there's no reason to can dry beans except for the fact that, if you haven't planned ahead, it's easy to open a jar of them and heat them up. On the other hand, there's something really homey about coming in the door to the smell of a pot of beans simmering in the crock-pot and maybe some corn muffins in the oven. ;~)

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 1:44PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


It is a fun thread, isn't it?

I got some Insuk's Wang Kong from George at the swap and hope I can get mature seed from the plants to help him perpetuate it and spread the joy. I'm going to grow it well away from the rest of my veggie garden to reduce the chance of cross-pollination. I don't know if I'll have seed from this spring's plants by the fall swap, but hope to have them for the spring swap.


I think Jackson Wonder turns a tannish-brown once cooked. I bet George will know for sure.

I want a larger deep freeze so I can freeze more stuff. Since all the fruit trees bloomed early, set fruit early and the froze out, I don't "have to" get a bigger freezer this summer, but I still might try to go ahead and get one now so I'm ready for the fruit crop we'll presumably have next year. One good thing about gardening is that we always are sure that things will be better "next year". LOL

We keep saying we are going to buy a generator "one of these days" before we have something happen and we have to buy one. I'm just excited that I finally have the tornado shelter fully stocked with folding chairs, beach towels (cause you get wet running from the house to the shelter), snacks, bottled water, flashlights and extra batteries, candles and matches, etc.

I remember when people sealed stuff with paraffin too, and we all lived. : ) I know they have reasons for their new recommendations, but sometimes it feels like overkill.

Peppers need heat to germinate. Even on a heat mat, mine seem so slow in comparison to tomatoes. I didn't have very good germination rates with my peppers this year. I was gone to fires a lot, though, and none of the seeds and young seedlings got as much attention as usual. I still have plenty of pepper plants for our garden though.

I've never canned dry beans. I like cooking a pot of beans in the crockpot, especially in the winter. I feed the firefighters a lot of bean dishes and they love them. One day, after a big string of fires day after day after day--but right before that huge fire day--several firefighters were standing and discussing their favorite bean meal from that week--one liked the chicken-tortilla soup from Sunday night the best (I made it extra spicy and only threw in beans so I could spread it out and make it feed more people), and another liked the taco soup they'd had that day the best (I do use canned beans in it so I can make it in a hurry) while the third liked 15-bean soup the best. Until I was standing there listening to their conversation, I didn't realize I'd made them bean dinners three nights in a row. LOL They love the beans though, and I can start them in the morning and they're always done by the time the firefighters need dinner. The only thing that went over bigger than the beans? Cream-cheese brownies. I think all firefighters are big kids at heart--hand them a brownie and they're five-years-old again and tickled to death to have a brownie. One reason I make them beans so often is so the guys with blood sugar issues are getting the protein from the beans--it helps counteract the sugar in all the sweets.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 2:50PM
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LOL, I don't think it's just firefighters. I think it's a man thing.

It's really fun to cook for people who consider eating an adventure.

I like to cook, so I do it even though nobody makes a big deal out of it usually, here. I only know if it's good if they go back for seconds. I enjoy more cooking for DS than anyone because he will come to me and say, "That was THE BOMB, Mom!"

I had some extra painted lady and scarlet runner beans, I decided to cook them and see what they taste like. I just lifted the lid and smelled and I don't think I'm going to like them. But maybe they will smell better when the cooking is finished.

    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 5:01PM
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owiebrain(5 MO)

Thanks so much to all of you for the bean info!


"Does Uncle Steve's Italian grow well for you because I was under the impression that it doesn't do great in hot climates?"

I've not yet grown them. I just received USI and Marbut last month from Martin/Paquebot. I'll let you know how they do.

Now, I simply must have your recipes for both the tortilla and taco soups! I rarely follow any recipes but if you could give me general ideas for them, I'd be thrilled. Yum!


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 5:06PM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I've never cared much for the flavor or Scarlet Runner and I've never tried Painted Lady but I assume they'd taste somewhat the same.

I just grow the red-flowered runner beans mostly for the flowers for the hummingbirds.


Let me post the recipes on a separate thread so they don't get lost in the bean thread. I don't really cook "by recipe" either....I am more of a some of this and some of that cook, but I do start out (at some point) with a recipe and modify it as I go along. : )

These two recipes are great for the firefighters during the cold weather. In the summer, they usually get hamburgers, hotdogs or cold cut sandwiches because they are (a) easy to make and (b) easy to hold in your hand and eat while in a hurry.


    Bookmark   May 3, 2009 at 5:26PM
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Don't let the fuzzy pods turn you off to trying Insuk's Wang Kong, or Scarlet Runner beans as snaps. They are GOOD! My problem has been getting enough of them to actually eat. One of our daughters picked my seed crop of Insuk's Wang Kong (by mistake) and that's how I know they're good, ...sigh.

Ilene, I have a small packet of Speckled Butter beans. Last year I was browsing at the Burgess Farm Stand, here in Tahlequah. They sell bulk seeds which is so great! Anyway, I spotted what I know as Christmas limas and decided to pick up a handful, which is actually not many seeds, due to their size. When the lady packaged them she labeled them Speckled Butter Bean. If I recall, they do cook up a light brown or slightly reddish. I haven't grown them since the mid 80s. Jerreth doesn't like limas. So my limas seldom get eaten. If you would like, I can send you these seeds. But they can cross with Calico Willow Leaf. So you'd have to plant them at some distance.

I have no experience with Lazy Wife Pole beans. But Long Cut Olde Timey Greasy Bean seems pretty resistant to heat.I planted them late, last year and they came in during the dog days of July, producing right up to frost. Some of the variants in that mix don't look very "greasy" to me. But they are all good.

We're trying a small planting of Red Peanut Bean, from Sandhill Preservation Center. Perhaps I'll find a bush/half runner which will fit my multipurpose definition. For about 25 years I've grown Fowler's Bush Bean, which is a stringless snap. It is a terrific producer and widely adapted. But I struggle to get a lot of seed from it, and it's difficult to thresh. Neither is it a tender pod bean. If picked late, it's tough.

Finally, one comment on canning standards. My wife received a Joy Of Cooking Cookbook when she was a teen. That's still our main guide for things like canning. We've never gotten sick and don't plan on changing procedures. Having lived outside the USA for some years we've noticed that the American public is gradually turning neurotic/hypochondriac/panic aholic. Our children, when visiting in the US used to joke with one another. One would say to another, "How do you scare an American?" The expected reply was: "Sneeze on them." This latest propaganda on the flu seems to me to be just another example of such hysteria. Jerreth's sister found "Swine flu kits" on the Internet, the other day. They consisted of masks, GOGGLES and sterile wipes. They were only going for $59.00!!! Lawsuits too, seem to have contributed to this mentality in the USA. One has to be super cautious in recommendations, or else, someday... they will get sued.

Okay! I have to run again! Good to "see" you all.


PS. I think it rained all night, here again!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 7:16AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


Oh, goody, more rain! Do you ever have a day there when it doesn't rain?

I guess it is clear that drought season has ended for almost everyone in our state and that flood season has begun.

I won't be eating any of the Insuk's this year because I want to build up a supply of seed to share. I might try eating some as snaps next year though.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 7:43AM
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Well, the beans finished cooking, started smelling better, and I've tasted them. They're not bad at all. The flavor is kind of a cross between a lima and a pinto, but they are so huge once cooked that one bean is plenty to chew on at a time. They're kind of.... "mealy". I'm kind of tempted to mash them and make a batch of beef and bean enchaladas.

I can't say they would be a fave because I like the more tender beans. I guess that's why I like the limas, because they just kind of melt in your mouth. Yes, George, if you send me those speckled butter beans I'll refund your costs. Are they a bush or a pole? I don't know if I have a place to plant them now but maybe in the fall or next year.

After trying the new canning guidelines, I just felt that this would be an effective way to make people quit canning produce and make them revert to buying their canned goods. If a dill pickle isn't crisp, it isn't good, and I just haven't yet seen a recipe that results in a good crisp canned pickle using the new guidelines. I just can't understand how procedures can be reliabe for 60 years and then all of a sudden not be safe. I know people who have canned their own soups and now we're being told that if there's any fat in the food, it's not safe to can it. I don't understand that, since you can buy a can or a jar of, for instance, tamales from the grocery store, and there's a glob of fat right there on top.

Lots of people don't have a big freezer, and some people live in areas where electricity is not reliable. So for them, if they can't can things, all they have left is drying and keeping things in root cellars. Guess that brings us full circle back to beans!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 10:03AM
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Ilene, I believe this one is a pole bean. I could be wrong. But I believe it's a pole variety. I'll send it to you soon.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 2:13PM
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rookiegardener29(zone 6)

Very interesting story of the Calico Willow. I enjoy reading stories of that nature. I believe I am going to join the seed exchange. I hope that your children carry on all of your hard work. I would love to get my hands on the Calico. I would guard it with my life!
P.s. I can't believe you tracked the kid who stole your beans! Thats great!

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 3:42PM
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Kristy, I sent you an e-mail.
Tracking wasn't too hard in the soft ground of that cornfield (which surrounded 3 sides of my garden). I also grew up trapping, so I learned to observe.

When we moved to Oklahoma, in 2005, I misplaced my seed to Flossie Powell, another nice lima. This will be my last attempt to get old seed to grow, and to get it going again. Others have this variety, so it's not the end of the world. But I hate to lose varieties. Last year I found some of my old seed and got one seed to grow. Then a rabbit ate the plant! This year I dug up another half dozen seeds from 2002. So, we'll see.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:09AM
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What a wonderful thread - loved reading it - thank you for bringing this one back in up out of the shadows!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 6:13PM
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I'm going to have lots more room next year for a nice veggie garden and would really like to grow a nice variety of dry beans. Flageolets are one of my all-time favorites for cooking, and I was wondering if anyone has grown them here. If so, do you have any advice? I've looked around on this forum (which I love!)and haven't seen anyone mention them. I noticed SSE has them available and in stock.Thoughts?


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 12:45AM
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Dale, I have absolutely no experience with flageolets. But if they are beans of the p. vulgaris family, and I believe they are, they should grow well in Oklahoma. I'd give them a try.

Maybe Dawn will drop in and comment. Dawn seems to have tried almost everything at some time or other.


PS. I still haven't gotten some of our beans out. But I did do a large planting of Cherokee Striped Cornhill (pole bean). I noticed something else, notable, about this variety, I planted them when the soil was beginning to get a little dry, and they germinated and came up before it rained; and that, uniformly. It was a sight to behold.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 9:00AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7


I haven't grown flageolets either, but they are phaseolus vulgaris and you grow them the same way you grow any other bean. We're partial to Romano-style beans and I grow several varieties of them along with regular beans.

I think the type of flageolets that SSE has is the regular green ones? Johnny's Selected Seeds always has at least one type of flageolet although the odds are it will be a hybrid variety and not an heirloom.

If you like to look for varieties that are a bit different, you might enjoy looking at the selection of Franchi Simenti seeds offered by Seeds from Italy. I have grown some wonderful melons and beans purchased from Seeds from Italy. Some of their varieties are the same ones we have here, but there are a few that I've never or rarely seen offered in the U.S.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 12:54PM
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I have really enjoyed this thread! It makes me want to try all sorts of beans :)
I usually grow Italian flat beans, but don't normally have many to cook and eat; I usually just eat them while I'm out in the garden! This year we're trying George's Tennessee Cut Short to see what they do and how they taste.
I think I'm definitely going to have to expand my garden next year :) Too many good things to even think of passing them up and not trying them at least once!

    Bookmark   June 4, 2009 at 2:29PM
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I bought a bundle of very tender, green, shiny, string-less, straight, green beans from Sams Club... made excellent stirfry and my daughter liked it very much and ate all. I would like to grow them, could you please tell what type of beans they are? I searched bean picture online, one most closely resembling picture is shown below;

Appreciate someone tell recommend same type of green bean for Oklahoma which has great flavor, tender, stringless, and heavy producer.

Thank you in advance -Chandra

    Bookmark   July 13, 2011 at 3:01PM
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I just started growing beans last year. Learned this year that they don't do well in 110 degree heat. Too bad.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2011 at 10:59PM
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