Besides growing my usual must-haves, which are snap beans such as Emerite, Royal Burgundy, and runner beans to dry for winter cooking, I grew beans sent to me through Rancho Gordo's Bean Buddies project to trial in my garden this summer. Rancho Gordo initiated this project with gardeners in order to get feedback on the germination, growth, and eating qualities of selected beans.
Shown in the photo above, the seeds I received were: Rattlesnake, Madeira, Jackson Wonder (a lima) and Florida Butter.
I planted all of them, and all grew except the Florida Butter beans (I think I planted too early - not warm enough?).
My summer garden is waning now and I'm collecting all the beans seeds that I can. Since I received very few seeds I figured I would expand them to plant next year and then test them in the kitchen. My dried seeds are in the photo below. I only grew two Madeira bean plants. I had five seeds that survived the shipping, and planted three. I like to keep a couple of beans to compare my own dried seeds with.
Madeira beans have pretty cranberry swirls and the same rosy color on the pod; I'll bet it's a tasty variety for cooking.
|Madeira bean pods look like Cranberry bean pods|
I didn't eat any of the Jackson Wonder either as I had only a few plants. This one is a bush lima with lovely seeds; I'll save these and also do an expanded planting next summer.
|Dried beans clockwise from left: Jackson Wonder, Rattlesnake, Madeira|
The Rattlesnake beans are fantastic - wow. I ate a few as snap beans, but I saved most of the harvest for seeds. They have great rich flavor as a snap bean and are incredibly tender. They do have a bit of a string, unlike the beans I usually grow to eat fresh, such as Emerite. But they're so good it's worth bothering with the string. I won't have enough to eat as dry beans, but perhaps next season!
|Rattlesnake beans are mottled with purple|
The Bean Buddies project is a generous undertaking by the folks at Rancho Gordo. I loved getting a selection of beans in the mail; it was like getting a special present. I've never grown any of these before so it was a nice addition to my summer garden and I'm thrilled to discover new beans to grow and enjoy.
|My backyard garden beds with bean teepees and a trellis of Rattlesnake beans|
Photos: Patricia Larenas