Beans Produce Lots of Healthy Meals

Seneca Bear Bean flowers
I like growing beans. Every year I plant way more than we can use simply because I like to see beans grow. We give lots away - I've found people will accept beans, or most vegetables, provided you pick them, put them in bags and deliver the produce to them. But try to get someone to actually pick their own, not many are willing! Anyway, the bean you see above is one of the Native American varieties I grow. This one is a good shelling bean, traditionally it was grown between rows of corn and allowed to vine up the cornstalks. That doesn't work as well with our shorter sweet corns most people grow now, so I grow these on trellises. They're worth growing just for the flowers, which look a bit like Scarlet Runner beans, but different.
White Dixie Butter Peas
Dixie Butter Peas are a prolific Southern variety known as "peas" rather than beans, although closely related. They're more like a lima bean, although limas don't do well in our hot, dry summers in the Midwest. The are a bush bean, producing lots of pods held atop the plants for easy picking.
Zipper Cream peas

Zipper Cream Peas are another bean variety I'm especially fond of, and also holds its pods up above the plants. While they may look like a snap bean, the word, "zipper" in the name tells you they have a string on the edges. Not an easily pulled zipper string. You have to let these mature until the peas inside are large enough to shell. Very small ones can be snapped, but not the larger ones. But they cook rapidly and the flavor is about the best of any bean/pea I grow. To cook: Melt a bit of butter (or for tradition's sake, fry a piece of diced up bacon) in a pan. Add the Zipper Creams and a small amount of water. Cook for about 6 - 8 minutes or until tender. They just melt in mouth!
Zipper Creams and a few Dixie White Butter peas on the right side.
The most prolific of all the beans I grow are the asparagus or long-beans. Every year I plant at least one variety of long bean, preferably the Chinese Red-seeded Long Bean. Baker Creek was out when I ordered in the winter so I bought the Chinese Green Long Bean, then later they had the Red-seeded in stock and I planted both. I have about a 10 ft long row and it produces so fast I have trouble giving them away.
Note the red line and marker on each end, showing the length of the row.
Just one day's picking, about 6 pounds.
The long beans produce about 6 pounds every other day. It's necessary to keep them picked in order for them to keep producing. If you keep them picked, these beans will continue producing right up to frost. When people ask me, "So what do you do with them?" I grit my teeth and hold my tongue. What I want to say is - they're beans, what do you do with any other green beans? But I keep quiet and give a simple answer. They are beans, green beans, you can snap, can, fry, freeze, steam, boil, whatever. Leave them longer than 2 days on the vine and they'll become shelling beans. They taste fantastic and anything you can do with any other bean, you can do with these. No strings, either!
Chinese Red-Seeded Long Bean flower
The long beans bloom in pairs and always set 2 beans off the same stem. Like lots of other beans, they're almost worth growing just for the blossoms.
Another Native American bean I'm partial to is the Potawatamie Lima, which I've grown for many years. It's a dry-shelling bean and comes in a pod that looks like a canoe. I leave them on the arbor until frost has killed the vines and the pods rattle like, well, rattles.
Potawatamie Lima beans
 They're a big-arbor bean. This one, below, is about 7 ft. high, 4 ft. wide and the beans cover it completely.
Potawatamie Bean arbor.

These aren't the only beans I'm growing this year, I also have Christmas Limas, Climbing Purple Royalty and another one or two, but they aren't big enough to show much of what they're like. Plus, a packrat had taken abode in the garden this past week and had been cutting down bean plants and hiding them in its nest. Thank goodness for Molly. The packrat is now compost.
Thank you, Molly!
Visit my website, we have several Summer Specials this week including Critter Ridder bug repelling soap, several of my books are on special and a few other things. Stay cool!


Barbara The Healthy Nut said...

I too, love to grow beans. Love to watch the vines and how quickly they grow , reaching for the sun. And I laughed about people wanting their veggies picked abd delivered. My friends LOVE my herbs but want them washed and ready to use!!

Lynn Rogers said...

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Lynn Rogers