Today I am glad I haven't made it out to do any sort of gardening, short of planning. Here is what it looked like out there this morning:
The main garden:
Brr. It's the afternoon and the fog finally lifted near noon...but I'm still cold. Can't wait until sunny spring!
Now, on to the topic at hand: Beans
Our bean of choice for the last few years has been the Royal Burgundy Bush Bean (pictured above in last year's garden).
Royal Burgundy Bush Beans are less attractive to bean beetles, which have in the past eaten our plants until they looked like plant skeletons, not to mention severely marring the beans themselves. We are in the midst of corn and soy country(and quite literally in the middle of a corn- or soybean field each year). If you live in town, it may not matter to you about the bean beetles. Toward the end of the season, we do have some damage, but nothing like it has been when we used other bean varieties.
The bush habit of Royal Burgundy Bush Beans means that I can plant them in a row and they will more or less behave themselves and stay in that spot. Because of their bush habit, they tend to produce a largish crop, and don't produce a lot after that, though you will get some here and there. I find that I have a few weeks where I have a lot of beans that I blanch and freeze in freezer bags, but after that, we only have enough for dinner when I go out picking.
Cherokee Wax Beans (pictured above with some of the Royal Burgundy's) were something I tried last year for the first time. They are quite similar to the Royal Burgundy (except in color, of course), though the beans got bigger and tended to get more stringy than the Royal Burgundy if I let them go too long. I think they did produce a little better than the Royal Burgundy's, but I still like the Royal Burgundy's best. I didn't notice many bean beetles on these plants, either.
We have not had a lot of luck with pole beans, due to the bean beetles, my giving the Royal Burgundy's ample garden space, and trying the pole beans out in the less-cultivated garden where they got neglected and the weeds took over and then production was negligible. I plan to try it again this year, both with the Scarlet Runner Beans(that I can use like "green beans" and as dry beans if I let them mature) and with regular ol' pole beans--probably Kentucky Wonder Beans.
The Jacob's Cattle beans are something we have been looking to grow for a couple years now. From what I have read, they are essentially Anasazi beans, which I love and have not been able to find in stores for years. Randy found a variety at Lehman's from Seedsaver's Exchange called Jacob's Gold and I think we will go with that this year, though it's not as pretty as the Jacob's Cattle bean, imo. This bean is also one that can be eaten like a "green bean" and/or allowed to mature and dry and be used as a dry bean.
I have planted black beans from a bag of dry beans from the store and had pretty decent results. I love black beans, but the rest of the family regards them with suspicion unless they are sufficiently camoflauged in something like Sweet Potato Burritos, so I am not sure if we will allocate space to those in addition to the other beans we are planning to grow.
When planting bush beans, I make a long hill for my bean row, and then I push the bean seeds down into the ground(read the package to determine depth) about an inch apart or so(again, read the package). Water, then wait for them to sprout up, and you will have beans in no time!