November 11th, 2009


09 lessons – All beans are not created equal

When looking for beans to plant this year, I was late to the party and had no idea what I wanted. Honestly, I think this led to a large portion of the mistakes this year, but learning from success unusual, so I’m counting this as a teaching year. Sounds better that way.

My main criteria when looking for plants was that they not require any extra hardware. We didn’t have the budget for it, and bush plants were easy enough to come by. Little did I know that there was a good reason for that. I grabbed the Venture beans because they were a bush type that should work well in our climate and the Xupars because they looked interesting. Yes, that was science and planning.

Both sets came up pretty strong and produced beans all summer from a single planting. They also kept producing well into October, which was great as our CSA box stopped giving us beans about August. We love those little guys steamed and in stir fries, we’re huge fans of the young crisp bean.

Late September was when I figured out that we won’t be planting the Ventures again. While they’re prolific and great young, it’s a shelling bean. If they go too long, they’re hard and flavorless when used in our preferred methods of cooking. They really need to just be left alone at that point until you’re ready to shell and dry them. And while my husband loves cooking chili, there’s no way I could stand shelling that many beans. One of us would die if that ever happened.

So next year, I’ll be looking for another bush bean, something that stays small and tender like the Xupars did. If you have any suggestions, let me know.

Oh, and if you want to try a Xupar, go to a good Chinese food restaurant and order the beans in black bean sauce. And save me some.

Originally published at my blog. You can comment here or there.