Friday 10 August 2007

Green bean gallery

Caseknife, introduced before 1820

Caseknife pod. Shaped a bit like a caseknife, presumably.

I just had a comment asking what had become of my Spagna Bianco, so here it is. It does appear to be botanically a runner bean but instead of the characteristic long thin runner pods it has ... er ... these. There are only two or three beans per pod by the look of it but they will be huge, round and plump like butterbeans.

Purple Prince

Coco Bicolour, an old climber of French origin

Nun's Belly Button, a very old dwarf variety with several variants

Brighstone, from the Isle of Wight but of uncertain origin. Lovely purple flowers.

And after green beans you get other colours. This is Dog Bean.

I noticed some dark beans among my harvest of Mrs Fortune's last year which were almost totally purple instead of the usual tan with purple whorls. It was only three beans in the whole crop. I planted them separately to see whether they look different from the usual plants. And they do! They have more purple on them, the flowers are darker pink, and the pods develop a much deeper blue mottling. I don't think they've crossed with anything, I think it's more likely to be a spontaneous mutation or a hidden gene expressing itself. I will watch them with interest.


fluffystuff said...

I am very interested in your beans. I planted some Hestia, dwarf scarlet runner type, and the beans looked and tasted like regular runner beans- almost too strong a flavor, rough chewy texture, but the surprise was the bright pink bean with purple spots inside. As the bean ages, it becomes mauve or light purple with dark purple spots. Very pretty and exciting. Pictures later. Love

kate said...

I enjoyed the bean tour and learning more about heritage varieties. The names are interesting ... nun's belly button. That is a good one.

I listened to some of the clips on your website. You have an incredible voice. I liked the electric violin on the first clip. Do you play any mandolin on this CD?

Anonymous said...

Ooh put me on the list for nuns belly button .. want one, want one

Bryony xx

Celia Hart said...

Beans are really doing well this year. Your climbing varieties are so interesting - I like the ones with purple stripy pods. And the mature beans are so beautiful too - like beads.
How are your Vermont Cranberry Beans? Are the pods still green? I read that they should develop streaks of red like Borlotti beans as they are basically the same thing (do you know if this is correct?)


Anonymous said...

Like you said, the Nun's Belly Button has many variants and names! It's like every country has given a different name to this bean. In the US they are called Soldier Beans. Here in Holland they are called Holy Beans. I've also heard them referred to an abbreviated 'Nun's Navels'. I wonder how they ended up with all of these names.

I grew them last year and the year before, but was very disappointed with them. I ended up harvesting about as many beans as I planted.

Joanna said...

I bought a couple of plants labelled borlotti in the farmers' market earlier this year. They have grown like Jack's bean, but the beans themselves are a mild disappointment - we've been eating them as green beans, but now I'm going to wait for them to swell up huge so that I can dry some of them, and see if that's an improvement.

Next year, thanks to you, I'll be able to do better - this is the most fantastic post.

And I've been away, so have only just caught up with your flood blogging - what a time you've all been having, I hope it's all come back to normal now? You never can tell, because the news moves on as soon as things improve!


Rebsie Fairholm said...

Fluffystuff - I love the pictures on your blog! Amazing how beans change colour so dramatically as they mature.

Kate - Thanks very much for your kind words. I do play some mandolin on the CD but only the odd bit of atmospheric electric mandolin (which doesn't really sound much like a mando at all). However I have got a very skilled mandolin player on the album doing all the clever and complicated bits!

Bryony - I will save some for you!

Celia - my Vermont Cranberry has done better than any of my other dwarf beans, in terms of yield. It has now started to develop some red streaking on the pods, but it doesn't happen until the pods are very mature and have already turned yellow. Even then it's very faint, so it doesn't really look like a borlotti. But it may be a type of borlotti.

The coloured streaks on bean pods seems to be greatly influenced by the amount of sunlight they get. More light = darker and more intense streaks. My VC crop has not had that much exposure to the sun so that may be why the red streaks are barely there.

Patrick - yes indeed there are many names and variations of that bean type. The French version is St Esprit à l'Oeil Rouge. There are variations in the colour of the blotchy bit but I don't know how they differ other than that.

Mine have yielded reasonably well, but the pods drag along the ground where they fall easy prey to slugs.

Joanna - yes, we're all pretty much back to normal now thanks!

My guess is that the borlotti beans you bought are probably intended to taste best as mature beans. There are three ways to use french beans - green beans, shelled out fresh, or shelled out dry. Although they are all botanically the same, most varieties are optimised for one particular usage. There are some that are genuinely multipurpose, but generally the ones bred for shelling out don't have very tasty pods, and vice versa.

Matron said...

Just the sort of blog I was looking for! I've been directed to your blog of April 2nd (whoops)about cross pollination. Can you answer a query on my most recent blog? I thought that dwarf beans were self pollinating? can you help please?

Rebsie Fairholm said...

Hi Matron - I'll come and answer it on your blog too but the short answer is Yes. Dwarf beans should be completely self-pollinating and don't need any help from insects.

VirVack said...

I retrieved the black seeds from the flowers of my green bean plants. The seeds were encased in a pot after the flowers dried up. Does anyone know if these seeds will produce the flower plants, if planted.

VirVack said...

pod not pot

The Poet Laura-eate said...

Gorgeous piccies! I'm not a natural gardener but I love looking at pictures of other peoples'!