Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Comparison of the Heirloom Beans I Grew 2012 Part 2

As I said in my previous post, this year I decided to grow several different types of heirloom beans. What I wanted was to find at least one bean that I loved enough to plant every year and save my own seeds.

I grew Scarlet Runner beans, Mississippi Cream peas, Pink Eye Purple Hull peas, Lazy Wife beans, Good Mother Stallard beans, Ruth Bible beans, Louisiana Purple Pod Pole beans and Trail of Tears beans.  I reviewed the Scarlet Runner beans, the Mississippi Cream peas, the Pink Eye Purple Hull peas, the Lazy Wife beans and the Ruth Bible beans in the previous post. 

Good Mother Stallard Beans for seed
Good Mother Stallard beans: These are common beans. They will cross with other common beans, but not with cowpeas or scarlet runner beans. By the time I got around to planting these beans I had grown weary of counting beans, so I only counted the number of seeds I saved. The harvest was not very large for the amount of beans I planted, but I did get enough beans for seed. for spring. I saved 187 beans for seed in spring.

With these beans I like the flavor so much that I threw out the productivity component. I plan to plant them in spring even though production was very low compared to the other varieties I tried. The leaf rollers and the bugs that eat the seeds did attack this planting much more heavily than any of the other beans I planted all year long. That may play into the low number.

According to a post on the Seed Savers Exchange forum, one should expect 120 beans per bean planted. I got substantially less than that. I planted 40 beans, and about 28 of them grew. If the expected harvest worked, I should have gotten something on the line of 3360 beans. I got 187.

I am going to plant them again in the spring in another location. I really like these beans and want to use them for dried beans. They have a rich, meaty flavor that is so good that I served my family beans and cornbread and that is all for supper when I was taste testing the beans. (I ordered several varieties from Rancho Gordo, because I wanted to taste beans to see if there was anything outstanding enough that I should plant it.)

I hope for a better return if I plant them in another location. I have to have about 800 seeds to make a pound of Good Mother Stallard beans. I don't know if I will be able to get what I need to have meals of these beans or not. I guess if worst comes to worst, I can order them from Rancho Gordo.  I hope to work it out so that I can grow my own.

Lousiana Purple Podded Pole beans
Louisiana Purple Podded Pole bean flowers-- a stunning two-
tone purple 
Louisiana Purple Podded Pole Beans: These are common beans. They won't cross with cowpeas, or  runner beans, but they will cross with any other common bean. These were the last beans I planted this year. I planted them on a whim, because I had just purchased the seed and was excited to see how they grow. I planted them so late that I am sure I didn't get a good reading on productivity.

I didn't bother to count the beans of this variety, either. I did get to taste them. They are wonderful. They are also exceptionally beautiful. The stems are a deep, stunning purple. The leaves are bright green. The flowers are a gorgeous two-tone purple. Surprisingly, the flowers have a scent, a wonderful flowery aroma. They would be a great addition to a front yard garden, where they would work great as edible landscaping. They are vining plants, so you would need a trellis, but that can be done tastefully.

I planted 40 of them and about 20 grew. I was able to save a little bit of seed from my own garden and have some seed left over from that I purchased from Seed Savers Exchange. I definitely plan to have these in my garden next year. I love the color. I love the taste. I love the flowers, and the form of the plants. I love that the flowers have a scent. They are rather rare, so it will be a pleasure to help maintain a variety that is threatened. I hope to have a bigger planting next year.

Summary: I learned what type of beans my family likes and what types produce the best for us. The best producer was by far the Ruth Bible beans. The best tasting green bean for our family was the Louisiana Purple Podded Pole beans. The whole family agreed that their flavor was superior to the others. The best story definitely came from the Mississippi Cream peas. The most unique flavor was the taste of the Good Mother Stallard beans. 

So, next spring's bean choices are made. I will plant Ruth Bible beans, Louisiana Purple Podded Pole beans, Mississippi Cream peas and Good Mother Stallard beans. Now to organize my garden so that each bean is isolated enough to give me pure seed. 


  1. I'm growing Tiger's Eye beans next year because I like them so much. They just aren't a productive bean though. For me it is the texture that is so good.

    1. I can certainly understand growing something because the taste is so good. I'll have to remember Tiger's Eye for a future year. Thank you for letting me know. :)

  2. Great review. I seem to have mucked up my bean planting this year. I have quite a few pole bean plants producing - Purple King which looks similar to your purple beans but all the others I planted either too early or too late and none are doing much yet.