How to Grow Lima Beans

lima beans

Some beans like it hot, and Limas are the perfect example.
Grown either as a bush or a pole type bean, they are quite prolific as long as they get the heat they love.

Plant when the weather has warmed up and the soil is dry; Limas are picky that way.
If you soak them in warm water for a few hours, they will sprout quicker.
Plant the seed about 2 inches deep, and 6 inches apart for pole types and about 1 ft. apart for bush varieties. Lima beans are a very good example of the advantages of vertical gardening.
Note though that if you are planting a pole type, such as “King of the Garden” be sure to give them a good tall trellis, as these vines can easily grow over 8 feet tall.

lima beans

Lima beans can be harvested young as used as a snap bean. For the tasty innerds, pick when the seeds inside begin to get plump. As with others in the bean family, harvest often to encourage good production.

You can also let some of the pods dry on the plant and harvest those either for replanting or for use as a dry bean.

The most common variety of Lima bean is the Fordhook, which we plan on trying.

Well maybe, since we like reusing the seeds from our own.
Some folk swear they are the best though.
Have you ever tried them?

Botanical name:Phaseolus lunatus
Hardiness: Limas like hot weather and needs about 3 months to grow. A good plant for a greenhouse in colder climates.
Height: 2 ft. for bush varieties, 8-10 Ft. for pole types.
Yield: One seed grows one bountiful plant. Each pod will produce an average of about 4 seeds, depending on type.
Storage: Pressure can, freeze or dehydrate. Wonderful with corn as succotash.


Categories: Beans, How to Grow


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How to Grow Cowpeas

This is the first time we have tried growing cowpeas, also known as black eyed peas, and found the experience to be quite delightful.

Semi-vining and larger gray speckled variety.

The larger gray speckled variety.

They are a semi-vining crop, and did well both with a trellis and without. We tried two varieties, a Grey Speckled Palapye that is described by Baker Creek seed company as one that is well suited for the North; and Risina Del Trasiorfino, an even smaller bean coming from a more compact plant.

More compact Risina Del Trasiorfino.

More compact Risina Del Trasiorfino.

They are easy enough to grow. Plant after all danger of frost. Put seeds in twice the depth of the size of the seed, about an inch. Water.
Care for them the way you would any beans.
Trellis or let them sprawl.

We planted the gray peas with the corn, and they are almost done producing and just shortly after the corn had finished. Good timing to try some mache or shut the bed down.

Dried in the pod.

Dried in the pod.

You can eat the beans fresh like a snap bean or allow to dry on the plant.
We chose the latter as we are looking for a supply of dry produce for the winter months.

Compared to a very shiny quarter.

Compared to a very shiny quarter.

The only problem we had with growing cowpeas is that the seeds are just so tiny. You get a lot per pod, but still it seemed as though they did not give us the yield we are used to getting from other types of dry beans.

But then we haven’t eaten them yet, and are wondering if the flavor compensates. If you have any insight on this, please let us know.

Botanical name: Vigna unguiculata
Hardiness: Can take the heat and lack of water, perfect for growing in warmer climates but did well here in the North.
Yield: One seed will produce many side shoots bearing 2 long beans. Each bean then provides many seeds.
Storage: Can be frozen as snap beans. We preferred to allow to dry in the pod. Store in an air tight container.

Categories: Beans, How to Grow



How To Grow Chick Peas

A veggie by any other name.

A veggie by any other name.

AKA Garbanzo Beans or Ceci beans, these legumes are actually neither a pea nor a bean.

They are not often found in the home garden, especially this far north. The reason is they prefer much hotter temperatures and lots of rain.
We are just getting our first beans now, partly because of the weather but also because the rabbits got to the plants early in the spring, setting them back a few weeks.

As we understand it these are delicious fresh, so of course we had to find out for ourselves.

Plant like you would any other bean, waiting until the ground is warm and after all danger of frost.
Put the seed in the soil twice as deep as the size of the seed, about 1/2 inch.
Rather than purchase seeds, we just bought some dry beans at the market.
Same thing, but cheaper.
And that way, we know we will have chick peas no matter what.

Chick peas don’t have to be staked, but they do fall over a bit when they get taller. If you prefer you can grow them along a support and tie as needed.

They really are a pretty plant, with delicate leaves similar to some ferns, and pretty little white flowers.

As for the taste? Give us a few weeks, and we’ll let you know first hand.

Botanical name: Cicer arietinum
Height: 10-18 inches
Days to Maturity: 75-90, depending on whether the rabbits find them or not.
Hardiness: Prefer heat, but will grow in cooler climates with lower yields.
Yield: One plant will provide a number of pods, each pod will produce 2-3 peas.
Use/Storage: Eat fresh, cooked, or let dry and store as a dry bean.

Categories: Beans, How to Grow, Odds & Ends, Peas


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Pole Beans, Bush Beans, and Say What?

Pole beans are the most noticeable beans that the home grower plants. The gorgeous way their tendrils gracefully grab onto a support and the sheer height they can achieve makes them a focal point in any garden.

Red Runner beans and the purple podded pole types are some of the most colorful examples you can add to your garden.

For fresh eating pole types are great, because they produce a smaller quantity of fruit at a time, but continue on until the frost. Since they grow vertically, they take up less space than their bush type counterparts.

Pole types can easily grow 8 ft. high and more.

Pole types can easily grow 8 ft. high and more.

There are more varieties of bush beans to choose from than pole; and if you plan on succession planting and/or preserving your crop, they may be a better choice for you. Bush beans will produce more beans in a short period of time than pole beans do, so you have enough for canning, freezing or dehydrating.

If you like to have a selection of beans to store for winter meals, look into bush beans. We especially love dry beans which are easy to grow and a cinch to store.

Bush beans with nary a tendril in sight.

Bush yellow wax beans with not a tendril in sight.

Probably the most confusing thing for gardeners planting beans, is when the packet describes the plant as a bush type and they find tendrils growing.
“Why are my bush beans trying to climb?” is a question we not only had to find an answer to ourselves, but since then have been asked many times.

Some beans are what is known as ‘Half Runner’ beans, simply a bush type that does produce a tendril, albeit a short one. Often the plants will cling on to one another for support, and really there is nothing you need to do but let them grow.

We planted this bed with beans after the voles took off with all but one cantaloupe, and unfortunately never took the time to note which bean seeds they are. We are suspecting it is the Black Valentine, as they are a half-runner type.

Half Runner beans produce a short tendril, confusing many gardeners.

Runner beans produce a short tendril, confusing many gardeners.

Yeah, keeping better notes… another lesson learned the hard way.

Categories: Beans


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How to Grow Soybeans

edamame or soybeans

Also known as edamame or soya, soy beans are one of the oldest known crops. They are often served at Asian restaurants as an appetizer. Home grown podded beans, lightly steamed, are a delightfully sweet treat. Many consider it unsafe to eat soybeans raw.

Plant the seeds after danger of frost, about 1 inch deep and 6 inches apart. We learned the hard way that the rabbits love these tender plants, so be sure to give them protection.
Depending on the variety of soybean you choose, you should be able to harvest about 2 1/2 to 3 1/2 months later.

edamame beans

We grew Envy, a green short season variety. According to the Johnny’s Select Seeds catalog, although they are an earlier variety they are not as flavorful as one called Butterbeans. They also describe the variety Toya as an early bean with good flavor, and Black Jet as the best for using as a dry bean. We have grown Black Jet in the past with good success. It might be a tough decision choosing a variety for next season.

Unlike many other legumes, soybeans produce the majority of their crop all at once. They grow upright, making harvesting a simple process. You can simply yank the plant out of the soil and pull all the beans off.

Soybeans can also be allowed to dry on the stalk. Harvest by removing the plant when the pods have lost all their fresh color, place upside down in a paper bag, and ‘thrash’ by shaking the bag about. Most of the beans should fall easily from the plant.

Be sure they are completely dry before storing. Soak to reconstitute the same way you would any dry or ‘soup’ type bean.

edamame or soybeans

Botanical name: Glycine max
Yield: Envy produced 12-20 pods per plant, with 2 seeds per pod. Some varieties produce up to 4 seeds per pod.
Plant height: 2 to 2.5 ft.
Harvest: Fresh when the pods are swollen, or dry on the plant.
Storage: Dry or freeze.

Categories: Beans, How to Grow


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The Versatile Tiger’s Eye Bean

Some vegetables are so demanding.

Kohlrabi: “Pick me now! Pick me now or I’ll get too woody!”
Lemon Cucumber: “Pick me now or I’ll get too seedy!”

Then along comes the Tiger’s Eye Bean: “Well… you can pick me now and enjoy me as a snap bean, wait till my seeds get plump and taste my buttery flavor as a shell bean, or well go ahead and take your time and I’ll turn into a dry bean. Either way, I’m good.”

You got to love it.

tigers eye 002

And it’s really just that simple.
Pick in the green stage, before the seeds get plump, and not only will you have a nice green bean, it will encourage more flowers to form.

Did you ever find a huge green bean that somehow you missed picking?
That won’t happen here.
As the seeds swell, the pods turn yellow. Easy now to find, and you can then just remove them from the pod to enjoy.

tigers eye bean

Or just let the seeds set out.
Give them a few days to become completely dry, then simply store in an air tight container.
Come winter these will be a nice bean soup or a delightful pan of baked beans.

As the season comes to an end, just harvest any that remain on the bush.
Oh, be sure to save a few of these to replant as well.
Yep, its an heirloom bean.

And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better.

Categories: Beans, How to Grow



Buy Dry Beans Once, Grow Them Forever

You can purchase some dry bean seeds from your favorite seed supplier, or save some money by getting some ‘soup’ beans from the grocery store.

We did this back in 2010, and have not had the need to buy seed since.
Dry beans like those pictured below from the local grocery were a little over $2 per pound, about what you would pay for a packet (1/8 pound) of seeds at your local nursery (or more through the mail with shipping charges added).

What?” you may be thinking. Yes it’s true…and it gets even better:
Since the beans are seeds, we had enough seed left from the harvest to plant the following year, and so on.
For approximately $5 we have enough dry beans for the rest of our lives.

What???” You may be shocked and amazed ;-) but it’s true.
These beans will never become soup, but their kids will.

dried 'soup' beans are a acheap seed source

(no soup for you!)

Dry beans are easy enough to plant.
When the weather is good and warm, just drag your trowel through the soil to make a small trench.
Throw in beans. You can take the time to carefully set them in but we don’t. They seem to handle overplanting very well.
Cover the trench and water.
Even easier, plant before a rain.

beans after only 1 week

Only a week after planting.

Beans are a very healthy source of protein and are high in fiber, good for a lot of what ails you.

We really love them too, most especially as hummus. You can use a variety of beans to make it.

Some beans you can pick young for fresh eating, then let the rest dry on the plant.
Beans produce more the more you pick, so have at ‘em. Dry or fresh you just open the pod to get the beans.

This worked so well that we did purchase a few seeds to add additional color to what we grow. Now we harvest a wonderful assortment each year, without having to buy any more seeds.

We have also learned that you can get an even bigger harvest by warming up a bed simply by clamping plastic on it, and keeping the seeds/seedlings warm until the weather is better for them.

Here they come, a full month early.

Here they come, a full month early.

Note that most dry beans are bush types or semi-vining, meaning they cling on to each other. If you buy beans in the store, chances are you won’t have to trellis them. Check a seed catalog first for more specifics on their needs.

The Video
More on growing Dry Beans
Homemade Hummus
Other seeds from the market

Categories: Beans, How to Grow



How to Grow -Fava Beans

fava bean bud

Fava bean bud.

Trying something new in the garden always makes it that much more fun, and this year Fava Beans, aka Broad Beans were a first.

fava tiny flower bud

Tiny fava flower bud.

And most certainly, not the last.
Our plants began producing beautiful little white flowers with a tiny spec of black on each one.

fava bean flower

Fava bean flowers.

Beans in general are self-pollinating, which only means they have both male and female parts on the same flower.
In this case, insects can help with the pollination.

fava beans from the buds

Fava beans from the buds.

The fava bean plant can get pretty tall, so it’s best to plant them close together for support.
They can easily be overtaken by weeds.

fava beans growing

Fava beans growing.

We also found that the rabbits really like them.
Really, really like them.
And since we had a very mild winter, we have rabbits and weeds in abundance.

fava beans in the field

Fava beans in the field.

This ended up being our entire harvest, but wow were they good!
So good in fact that we are trying a fall planting to see what happens.
If nothing else, they make a good cover crop.

fava beans

Fava beans.

In the meantime, we’re hoping the chickens can scare off the darn rabbits.

chickens protect the crops

Go Ladies go!

Botanical name: Vicia faba
Yield: Many beans per plant, if the rabbits don’t get them.
Planting time: Same as peas, they can take temps down as low as 10 degrees F.
Spacing: 4-6″
Days to Maturity: 75
Harvest: I hear you can eat them whole if you pick them small, but usually they are harvested when the pods become plump. They can also be left to dry on the plant.
Storage: Blanch and freeze whole bean, peel before eating.
Pests: They attract aphids.
Seeds: Considered to be open pollinated and heirloom, you can save the seeds.

Wikipedia on Fava Beans

Categories: Beans, How to Grow


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Pole Beans Vs. Bush Beans

bean flower

beauty at a higher level

When planning your garden, whether to grow pole beans or bush beans is more often a decision that’s based on what variety of beans you want.

If you are looking for a basic table green bean, then you have to make a decision.

beans seed packets

good to grow up

Pole beans will generally yield more veggie per space they use.
You can buy numerous types of supports, use your own fence or trellis, or hand make a simple teepee style to grow your beans up.

I’ve also seen some wonderful lean-to’s, a simple square wooden frame with screening attached.
When used at an angle with support, lettuce will grow well underneath and benefit from the shade the frame offers.

beans seed packets

more choices

Other than green beans, the variety of bean will determine the growing method.
Yard-long beans are a fun to grow pole bean.

bean seed packets

and let's not forget

In the Jones’ garden you’ll find more shell beans planted than anything else.
These are typically bush beans, but they do produce well for the amount of space they take.
Since they dry on the plant, they are easy to harvest and store.

beans seed drying

drying shell beans

However, in an effort to waste no space- if you look behind the asparagus growing by the fence, I’ll bet you’ll see some type of pole bean growing up.

What’s your favorite bean to grow?

Categories: Beans, Gardening


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How to Grow – Beans

garden gnome

There's a gnome in my beans.

As you’re planning your garden this winter, consider growing a variety of beans.

They are highly complicated and have exceptionally particular growing requirements. Here’s what you’ll need to do:
Put the seed in the soil, cover, water. Walk away.

Just don’t go too far, they grow fast; they are actually that easy.

There are two main types of beans: fresh and dried/shell beans.

The fresh beans are, simply, the ones you eat right from the plant; green, wax, footlongs, Italian flat, etc. You eat the whole bean shell and all.
I’ve seen some of your pictures of footlongs- WOW!

These beans are either “pole” requiring support, or “bush” types.

Which you choose depends on a number of factors.
Pole beans need a structure such as a bean pole, fencing, trellis or netting for support. They are said to have a better flavor and to produce more.
Harvesting is easier because they are not crowded, and you can grow veggies below that like a little shade.

Bush beans don’t require anything but soil and water.

Dry beans are the soup types that dry on the plant and are harvested at that stage. What you eat is actually the seed.

They are high in fiber and protein and simple to grow.
Generally they have a bush type growing habit.
Dry beans can be stored over the off season easily. Be sure they are completely dry.

bean bed

Holding back the bean onslaught.

For all types, plant when the soil is warm and there will be no more frost. Some people like to sprout their seeds indoors first, there’s no real need to do this.

Beans add nitrogen to the soil and do well with corn and winter squashes. You can in fact grow pole beans up corn stalks.

Harvest fresh beans as they ripen, dry types as they dry in the pod.

The Fresh Bean Exceptions:
Soybeans: all the beans ripen at the same time, what you eat is the pod “Edaname” or the seed.
Fava or Broad bean: plant as soon as the ground can be worked, they can handle the cold. Again, you eat the seed.
Lima Beans: eat the seeds.
Fresh Shell Beans: many of the Dried/Shell beans can also be eaten fresh. Eat the seed.

Botanical name: Phaseolus vulgaris
Except Lima beans Phaseolus lunatus Soybeans Glycine max and Fava beans Vicia faba
Yield You will get many beans per plant, one plant per seed.
Store Be sure Dry Beans are completely dry before storing. You can run them through the dehydrator to be on the safe side. Fresh beans can be pressure canned, frozen, pickled or dehydrated.

The YouTube VideoDry Beans
Growing beans on the skinny.

Categories: Beans, How to Grow


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