Saturday, August 11, 2007

Beans, beans a beautiful fruit

Sometimes I like to try different things just for fun. It comes of having enough that you can play with your food. So when I went bean crazy, I tried a bean called Hestia. It is a scarlet flowered bean, like a runner, but bred into a bush bean. The flowers are truly beautiful. Some were red and white, or red and pink, or red and red. The pods were rough and thick and had a bit of a bitter bean taste. If they were young enough, they tasted ok, but they took about 10 minutes longer to cook than a Roma or regular green bean. I decided that they were passable for my taste and extremely pretty as plants, so I decided to save the seed for next year.
When I planted these beans, the seed was not remarkable. Frankly, I didn't pay much attention. So, as the pods matured, I started opening some of them to see how the seed was growing. I was shocked by what I saw!
At different stages of growth, the beans were bright, bold colors of Pink, Mauve and Puce. They had purple and white spots, or blue and white spots. They got an incredible size over time, as large as a broad bean. And as they dried, they turned a purple/brown with dark spots. In this picture, I am showing a bowl full of beautiful beans and some of the Roma and Hestia on the plate. The Hestia pod had between one and four fully developed beans. The pods could get very long, but not all the seeds would develop. If you let the pod age to a yellow/green, the seed might start to sprout in the pod (as some of mine did), so I started harvesting them early while the pod was leathery but still green. As they air dry, they turn brownish or purple and shrink quite a bit, but they still have the spots. I have not yet cooked or eaten just the beans. I am having too much fun looking at the pretty colors.
The plant itself is a bush type, but not like any bush type I have ever grown. Each plant made about 10 branches with flowers, leaves and pods about 2 or 3 feet long. Of the string of 10 or so flowers, only two or three would form pods. Of the pods one would have lots of beans and one would have only one bean. There might be two immature failed pods.

They take up lots of ground space because they don't run up a pole- they spread out. Two or three would fill a 5 gallon pot. So, I had planted them wrong. The Roma bush should be behind in the trellis and the Hestia should be in front to spread. But they were strong growers in our funny weather. They are still making a few flowers after 3 1/2 months. I have collected enough seed to last for a couple of years and I still have pods on the plants.
I will plant these again next year, and spend some time tasting just the beans at different stages. After all, they were supposed to be food, not just toys.

1 comment:

Rebsie Fairholm said...

Hey, you've started posting pictures! Those are beautiful.

I had a similar colour experience with some heritage runner beans I tried last year, which turned from bright pink to midnight blue to black as they matured. But they weren't speckly like yours!

Bean diversity is one of the joys of the garden, for sure.