2007 Bean Report
I grew several kinds of beans this last summer. Fresh eating bush varieties included Maxibel, Royal Burgundy and Pencil Pod Wax. I have long wanted to try growing beans for drying and chose Cannellini and Midnight Black Turtle Bean.
Things in the garden rarely go as planned.
The Maxibel, a haricot vert from Fedco, produced lavishly and boasted a remarkable flavor. The catalog cautioned to pick early and often, which is catalog-speak for lousy when over mature, so I harvested the Maxibels rather to the exclusion of the other fresh varieties. This left the wax and purple beans to swell with seeds, a bit of serendipity that gave me a chance to become reacquainted with what my southern raised mother called ‘shelly beans’. I simply couldn’t bear to toss those swollen pods in the compost.
And they are delicious. I found several recipes for a creamy fresh shell bean soup. I was a little leery, though; since the beans from the Pencil Pod Wax were dark I was afraid that the blended soup might turn out mud brown instead of the described ‘jade green’. So I opted for a hearty soup from roasted chicken broth, spinach, noodles, chicken sausage and, of course, a generous amount of shell beans. Yum.
The dried beans are almost ready to harvest. The plants are now permanently covered with reemay as we are firmly into frost season. And only one variety survived. Owing to my touchingly foolish belief that I would remember where each variety was planted I now have no idea which variety I am coddling through the vagaries of a Pacific Northwest fall.
But I like surprises. And it should be easy to tell! No risk of confusing cannellini with black beans.
Next year I will grow only Maxibel for fresh beans. I’ve tried for years to find a great fresh green bean and I think the search is over. And I am so happy to rediscover shell beans and finally try growing dried beans. There is much history for the heirloom bean varieties and I am looking forward to a little winter research into the subject.