|Phaseolus vulgaris subsp. var.||Common bean, Green bean, Snap bean, String bean, Dry bean.|
- This page is about Common, Green, String, Snap, or Dry Beans. For similar plants try Lima, Broad/Fava or Runner Beans, and the List of beans.
Planted most widely, the common bean is also known as Green bean, Snap bean, String bean or Dry bean. They produce fleshy, tender pods which can be eaten fresh, while some varieties are also kept until the pods ripen and the beans can be collected and eaten fresh or dried and stored. Pods may be green, yellow (wax beans) or purple. The purple pods will turn green if cooked. Plants types are either smaller, self-supporting erect bush types, which produce sooner, or much taller pole types, which are vines that produce more over the course of the season, and need support.
Water regularly, occasional deep watering is better than frequent light watering. The latter can contribute to mildew. When plants are actively growing, you can fertilize them, then again when pods start to grow. Depending on variety, pods will form after 50-70 days. Harvest every 5-7 days. Once pods are allow to mature, production stops.
Plant seeds when the soil is warm, or indoors for a headstart, then set out when soil is warm. Plant an inch deep in full sun and good soil, which has been loosened a bit so the heavy seeds can emerge. Bush types can be planted 1-3 inches apart in rows which are 2-3 feet apart. Pole type planting depends on support system, but a wigwam of 3 or 4 8ft poles can have have 6-8 beans planted on each pole, and thinned to 4, as can single poles, 3 or 4 feet apart. Poles may be placed closer as well, just 1-2 feet apart, and seeds planted in rows as well, every 1-3 inches. You can also of course sow along a sunny wall, fence, or trellis and train the vines with light strings supported by wires or heavy twine. Water ground thoroughly before planting, and do not water again until seedlings emerge.
Pests and diseases
Snap or String beans
Most home gardeners raise beans for their pods, so these are the most commonly grown at homes, and have been bred for succulent, flavorful pods. 130 varieties are listed in Stephen Facciola's Cornucopia. Pods may be green, golden, purple, red, or streaked. Shapes range from thin "fillet" types to wide "romano" types and more common types in between. French Haricots verts (green beans) are bred for flavorful pods.
- Blue Lake (green)
- Golden Wax (golden)
- Purple King (purple)
- Dragon's Tongue (streaked)
- Red Swan (red)
Cornucopia lists 37 varieties of shell beans.
Flageolet bean varieties include:
- Chevrier (the original heirloom)
Borlotti beans are dried beans and are called by several names in North America. The bean is a medium large tan bean, splashed with red/black to magenta streaks. It is very popular in Italian and Portuguese cuisine.
The American cranberry bean or horticultural bean is quite similar if not the same as the Italian borlotti bean. Pinto beans are not considered the same as borlotti beans.
- True Cranberry (old VT heirloom with a more round shape like a cranberry), traditional ingredient of succotash
Pinto or mottled beans
The pinto bean is a type of mottled bean. Young pods may also be used as green beans. Pinto bean varieties include:
Navy bean varieties include:
- Rainy River
Other white beans are Cannellini and Great Northern.
Red (kidney) beans
The dark red skinned kidney bean was named after its strong resemblance to the organ of the same name, and is also known as the red bean, which may cause confusion with other red beans. Small red beans are noticeably smaller and darker than kidney beans, with a smoother taste.
Black turtle bean varieties include:
- Black Magic
- Sinaloa Azufrado
Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture
|Standard Cyclopedia of Horticulture|
Bean. A name applied to various plants of the Leguminosae. The word is commonly used for herbaceous plants of the Phaseolus tribe, but it is sometimes employed for seeds of leguminous trees and shrubs. The species of true beans (Phaseolus and closely allied genera) are yet imperfectly understood. The bean differs from the pea, among other things, in being epigeal in germination (cotyledons appearing above ground). Some of the plants to which the name is applied are really peas.
The beans chiefly known to horticulture are of five types: (1) The Broad bean (Vicia Faba), or the bean of history, an erect-growing plant, producing very large and usually flat, orbicular or angular seeds. Probably native to southwest Asia (Figs. 478, 479 a). See Vicia. These types of beans are extensively grown in Europe, mostly for feeding animals. They are either grown to full maturity and a meal made from the bean, or the plant is cut when nearly full grown and used as forage or made into silage. The Broad bean needs a cool climate and long season. In the United States, the summers are too hot and dry for its successful cultivation on a large scale, and the plant is practically unknown here. In Canada, the plant has been used with corn to make silage; and this combination has been called the " Robertson mixture." (2) Kidney bean (Phaseolus vulgaris; Figs. 4796, 480). This is the plant which is everywhere known as bean in North America, comprising all the common field, garden, snap and string beans. By the French it is known as haricot, and by the Spanish as frijole, and these words are often found in our literature. Its nativity is unknown, but is probably of tropical American origin. For inquiries into the nativity of the bean, see DeCandolle, Origin of Cultivated Plants; Gray & Trumbull, Amer. Jour. Sci.26:130; Sturtevant, Amer. Nat. 1887:332; Wittmack, Ber. der Deutschen Bot. Gesellschaft, 6: 374 (1888). (3) Lima or Sugar beans (Phaseolus lunatus, which see). Long-season, normally tall - climbing plants, producing large, flat seeds (Figs. 479 c, 481). Native to South America. See Bailey, Bull. 87, Cornell Exp. Sta. (4) Various species of Dolichos (as D. sesquipedalis of gardens), or closely related things. Vines which produce very long, slender pods and small, narrow beans (Figs. 479d, 482). Native to tropical America. (5) Soy, or Soja, bean (Glycine hispida). A bushy, erect, hairy plant producing small pods in clusters, and pea-like seeds (Figs. 479 e, 483). In this country used mostly for forage. Native to China and Japan, where it is much grown.
Aside from these types, there arc others of less economic importance. The Scarlet Runner type is a perennial phaseolus (P. multiflorus), grown in this country mostly for ornament (Figs. 479/, 484). The Tepary bean, now gaining prominence in the Southwest, is a form of Phaseolus acutifolius, a native species. Various other species of Phaseolus are also cultivated in various parts of the world under the name of beans. P. radiatus is prized in Japan, and has been introduced into the United States as Adzuki Bean (see Georgeson, Bull. 32. Kan. Exp. Sta.). Vigna sinensis, known in North America as cowpea (which see), is sometimes called a bean. The Velvet bean of the South is a Mucuna (which see), recently, however, referred to Stizolobium. The Jack bean is a Canavalia (Fig. 485). Recent American studies on varieties and types of beans are Irish, Rep. Mo. Bot. Card. 1901, 81-165; Jarvis, American Varieties of Beans, Cornell Bull. 260 (1908); Freeman, Ariz. Bull. 68 (1912).
The sea beans of the Florida coast are seeds of various tropical leguminous plants, and are transported by ocean currents (see Coe, in G.F. 7:503).
For botanical treatment, see Dolichos, Glycine, Phaseolus, Vicia, Vigna. L. H. B.
Culture of the bean.
For the purposes of the practical gardener, the various types and numerous varieties of the bean may be classified in two groups, in two different ways, namely, either as "field beans" and "garden beans," or as "bush beans" and "pole beans." Field beans are grown on a large commercial scale for the dry-shelled seeds, either as a farm crop in regular rotation, as corn and potatoes are grown, or at tunes as a subsidiary or chance crop, or side line, in young orchards, and so on, but are not usually found in the home- or market- garden, where highly manured soil would tend to stimulate growth of foliage at the expense of seed-production. Field beans belong mostly or entirely in the class of bush beans. The garden beans are more commonly grown for their succulent pods and immature seeds, and include both bush and pole or "running" sorts. The latter come almost exclusively under the head of "garden" beans.
The great economic value of the bean is generally recognized, not alone in respect to its high place as a farm and garden crop, but also as the most suitable material, next to animal products, in compounding a balanced ration for man, and to some extent for beast, and as a substitute for dear meats.
Beans are easily forced under glass, in a temperature suitable for tomatoes. They may be grown either in pots or beds. The bush varieties, as Sion House, are preferred. Keep them growing, and look out for red spider.
Ordinary field beans like a fairly good warm farm soil, such as will suit corn or potatoes. They do not draw very heavily on the fertility of the land. Belonging to the legumes, they are able to make use to a large extent of atmospheric nitrogen, and if given a good start will not only look out for their own needs in that respect, but may leave the land better supplied with nitrogen than it was found at planting-time. They will not thrive on wet or badly drained land; otherwise good strong loams, or soils resting on limestone, are considered most desirable, with sandy loams and gravelly loams next in order. They should have a fair but not excessive amount of humus. A few loads of fine old stable manure spread evenly on the surface after plowing, if possible supplemented with fifty or a hundred pounds of muriate of potash and a few hundred pounds of dissolved rock (acid phosphate) or other phosphatic manure, may be expected to give good returns. Or, in the absence of these chemicals, 200 pounds or so of a commercial fertilizer such as is usually applied for grain crops, and which analyzes about 2 or 3 per cent of nitrogen, 8 of phosphoric acid and 3 or 4 of potash, may be applied broadcast after plowing. Although the planting should not be done until after the soil has become warm, in the northern states not before June, the customary planting-time in the great bean-producing sections extends from June 1 to June 25; it is, nevertheless, of great importance to plow the land early and keep it worked with disk or other harrows until planting-time; this for the purpose of preserving moisture and getting ahead of the weeds.
Important also is the use of good hand-picked seed beans, not over one year old, and free from weevils and disease infection. The rows are to be made 28 to 36 inches apart, and for small areas, planting by hand or with a corn-planter will do. For planting on a larger scale, a regular bean- planter or a grain-drill with part of the tubes stopped up so as to bring the rows the correct distance apart should be used. If fertilizer is to be applied with the drill at ,the same time, it may be allowed to run from the hoe or tube on each side of each tube that discharges the seed beans. Among the varieties generally grown in field culture are the Pea or Navy, the Medium, Red and White Kidney. The Pea bean is small but early and prolific, and considered to be about as profitable as any other under ordinary circumstances. It is particularly recommended for the small or home grower. The harvesting comes when the pods have ripened and the leaves have dropped off, and is to be done with a bean-puller or harvester, taking two rows at a time, or in a small way by hand-pulling. The vines are put in small heaps, allowed to cure, and promptly stored out of the way of moisture, afterwards threshed with a bean thresher, or in a small way with the flail, cleaned, sorted by hand (in a large commercial way with the help of a bean-sorting device), and marketed.
The warm and fertile soil of the average home- or market-garden suits the requirements of the "garden" beans, as they are mostly grown for their tender and succulent pods and not for their seeds, or, as in the case of the lima and several others, for their seeds in an immature or half-developed state. The pods of all these garden beans should be picked promptly and clean in order to prolong the bearing period as much as possible. If the beans are allowed to ripen on the vines, the latter will soon give out. Only when these garden beans are grown for seed purposes is early and even ripening desirable, and in that case the pods, perhaps with the exception of the first setting if light, must all be left on. A good string bean has a thick, meaty pod which snaps off clean when broken leaving no string along the back. Many varieties which answer this description are offered in the various seedsmen's lists, both green-podded and yellow-podded. Early Valentine, with its many strains (Red, Black, Earliest Improved, and so on), is still in favor with growers for a green-podded variety. A newer good one is Stringless Green-Pod. Quite numerous are the yellow-podded sorts. Among them are Black Wax, Golden Wax, Davis Kidney Wax, Wardwell Wax, Hodson, and others.
Pole or running varieties of beans require especially fertile soil; and for that king of table beans, the lima of all forms, too much can hardly be done in the way of enriching the ground. Warm soil is one of the first essentials of success in growing pole beans. When poles are to be used for support, they should be set not less than 4 feet apart each way, before the beans are planted. Four or five beans are to be placed around each pole, 1 to 1½ inches deep. While it is a safe rule to put the seed eye downward, it is not a necessary condition of prompt and uniform germination. In case of absence or scarcity of poles, a serviceable, cheap and ornamental trellis may be constructed by setting posts firmly at proper distances along the row, connecting them with two wires, one a few inches and the other 5 or 6 feet from the ground, and finally winding cheap twine zigzag fashion around the two wires. Cultivate and hoe frequently. A top-dressing of good fertilizer, or of old poultry- or sheep-manure, hoed in around the plants, may be of great help in keeping up the productiveness of the plants to the end of the season. To have a continuous supply during the entire season, the pods, when large enough, must be gathered frequently and clean. Among the varieties used both for string and shell beans, are the Green-podded Creaseback, several wax varieties, Golden Cluster, and the popular Horticultural or Speckled Cranberry bean, besides any number of others. A very fine bean is the Dutch Runner (Fig. 484), which approaches the lima in quality and resembles it in habit of growth. The seed is of the largest size and clear white in color. Highly ornamental is the closely related Scarlet Runner, with its abundance of showy scarlet blossoms. This latter bean is grown in Europe for eating, but is rarely used for that purpose here.
Of all pole beans, the limas have undoubtedly the greatest economic value. They enjoy a deserved popularity, and are usually grown with profit by the market- gardener. The varieties might be classed in three types, —that of the Large Lima, the Dreer Lima, and the Small Lima or Sieva. Each of them has a number of sub-varieties or strains, and appears in both pole and bush form. The old Large Lima (Fig. 481) is a very large, flat bean, and yet largely grown for main crop. To the same type belong Extra-Early Jersey, King- of-the-Garden, and others. The pods of these are very large, and the beans in them somewhat flattened.
There are dwarf forms of both sieva and the regular lima. The Burpee Bush Lima is a form of the large lima type. The Dreer Lima of both forms is appreciated especially for its high quality. The seeds are more roundish and crowded close together in the pods, the latter being much smaller than those of the Large Lima. The seeds of these two types are light-colored, with a greenish tinge, but the Large Lima is also represented by red and speckled (red-and-white) sports. The Small Lima or Sieva, with its dwarf form, Henderson Bush Lima, seems to be hardier and earlier than the two larger types, but pod and bean are quite small. The color of this bean is nearly clear white, but there is also a speckled sub-variety of it. Wherever there is a place for the Sieva, its bush form will be appreciated. The bush forms of the two larger types, however, are not uniformly productive enough to take the place of the pole forms entirely. The latter will often be preferable when a season of continuous bearing is desired.
Lima beans require a long season, and therefore are not much grown along the northern borders and in Canada. They must be given warm and "quick" soil and kept constantly growing.
Three other members of the bean tribe might be mentioned in this connection; namely, the Black bean or cowpea of the South, the Japanese Soy bean, and the English or Broad bean. The cowpea takes, in some measure, the same place in the southern states that red clover takes at the North, being used both as stock food and as a green-manure crop. There are many varieties of it, early and late, some of strictly bush habit and some producing long runners. See Cowpea. Of greater value for the same purposes, north of New Jersey, seems to be the Japanese Soy bean, which is early enough to come to maturity almost anywhere in the United States. Its foliage is rather thin or open, however, which impairs its value for green-manuring. The dry bean constitutes one of the richest vegetable foods known, and its flavor seems unobjectionable to all kinds of stock. Sow one bushel to the acre.
Similar to this in value is the English Broad bean, several varieties of which, as the Broad Windsor, the Horse bean, and others, are grown and are popular in England and in some parts of the European continent. In most parts of the United States they are scarcely known, and in none generally cultivated. Only a few of our seedsmen list them in their otherwise complete catalogues.
Yet they are a decidedly interesting group of plants, and worthy of greater attention in the cooler parts of the country. Being about as hardy as peas, they may be planted much earlier than would be safe for ordinary beans. The Windsor is used in England in much the same way as lima beans are used in America; but the latter are so much better that in the United States there is no need of planting the former as a table vegetable. The varieties with smallish seeds are sometimes grown and used in parts of Europe for feeding pigeons and chickens, and under certain conditions might have some value here for the same purpose on account of the high protein content.
Insects and diseases.
The foliage of the various beans is rarely attacked by insects. A somewhat serious pest, however, which attacks the seeds both in the pod and dry, after being shelled, is the bean-weevil, a smaller brother of the pea- weevil, and having nearly the same general habits of development. If only beans free from live weevils are used for seed in a given locality, the product will be free from them also. For that reason, all beans to be used for seed, or for food, if suspected of being weevil- infested, should be subjected to the carbon-bisulfid treatment in the fall. It is simple, but care should be taken to keep the highly inflammable drug away from an open fire or light. Place the beans in a tight receptacle. Pour a quantity (half pint to barrel) of the bisulfid into a saucer or other flat dish, which place on top of the beans, and cover the receptacle tightly, leaving it thus for twenty-four hours or more.
Difficult to control is the bean blight, a disease which frequently affects field, garden and lima beans. Seed from an affected field should not be used, nor should beans be planted again on a field for several years after having been affected. For bean anthracnose, also called bean rust (erroneously) and pod-spot, which is easily recognized by the dark or brownish spots on the pods and occurs both on field and garden beans, there is one sure preventive. Plant clean seed and grow a practically clean crop. It is advisable for the grower to select his own seed beans, carefully rejecting every pod that shows the least sign of the disease. The true bean rust is not so often met with, therefore not so serious. T. Greiner.
Lima beans in California.
Lima beans delight in warm, summer weather, but if the relative humidity is low, they suffer in consequence. Along the California coast, which is the heaviest producing section, the fogs are remarkably constant in the night and early morning, and when for a week or ten days these fogs are lacking, the bean crop suffers markedly. The small pods that are just forming dry up and fall off without making seed. The heavy fogs which roll in may add a little moisture to the surface soil for a time, but not enough to reach the roots and aid the plants directly. The great benefit of the fog is in lessening evaporation and tempering the atmosphere, less water passing from the plant into moist atmosphere than would pass into dry atmosphere.
The profitable production of lima beans is limited to some extent by soil, though not so much as by climate. They ate grown on soil ranging all the way from sandy to adobe. The lima bean plant does not grow well on an acid soil; neither does it thrive on an alkali soil. California soils, being mostly arid or semi-arid, are not badly leached, and therefore lime is usually abundant, insuring freedom from acidity. But the same aridity and consequent lack of leaching is responsible for the accumulation in some lands of considerable amounts of alkali salts, enough to limit the area and the production in the counties where the bulk of the limas is grown. The amount of alkali which this bean can endure and still produce paying crops has not been definitely determined, but it is not high. However, experience has shown that the lima will bear more alkali than the Blackeye, Lady Washington, or other beans of the common kidney type.
The difference in time of maturity is very great between sandy and clayey soils, and still greater between dry and moist soils. A difference of a week may be observed in the same field, due to physical variations in the soil, and much more than this difference in time has been frequently observed within the distance of a few miles. It seems that the water-supply of the soil more than the texture is responsible for this difference in time of ripening, as irrigation on light soils causes the same lateness in maturity. Thus, a tendency is found toward the perennial habit which the plant maintains under the humid conditions of the tropics.
Soils with much nitrogen tend to produce late maturity; hence the limas ripen later on land which has been recently manured. On the other hand, the mineral elements tend toward early maturity. Limas require a richer soil than do the white kidney beans; the pole varieties require a richer soil than the bush varieties.
The standard preparation of land for a bean crop is practised. Growers have learned by experience that good preparation pays; in fact, very much more cultivation is given the soil before seeding than after.
Planting is from May 1 to May 25, at the rate of forty-five to sixty-five pounds per acre, according to the moisture condition and fertility of the soil. The beans are planted in rows 30 to 36 inches apart, 8 to 12 inches apart in the row, a single seed being dropped in a place. On the heavier and more moist soils, where the growth of vines is rank, the wider distances are given between rows. Two inches in the moist soil is considered the best depth of planting.
The beans are tilled while young, one, two or three times, the average number of cultivations being two or a little more. The fields are ordinarily kept free from weeds from the time of working in the winter till the vines cover the ground. Cultivation must cease when the vines get large, as, not being provided with supports, they spread across the row and would be badly injured by the passage of the cultivator. After the vines have made such a growth as practically to cover the ground, the mulch is not so much needed to prevent evaporation.
Irrigation in California.
As there is normally no rain on the bean crop in California from planting till harvest, the ground, of course, becomes very dry. Hence irrigation has been found profitable, the production in many fields being doubled by the use of water. The most common method of irrigation is by the row system. Furrows are made between all the rows with an implement carrying four broad shovels, furrowing between four rows at a time. Water is run in these furrows for the desired time, after which the land is leveled by a shallow cultivation. This prevents excessive evaporation which would take place if the furrows were allowed to bake in the sun. Usually only one irrigation is given, and that about July 1st, just before cultivation ceases. Two and one half to 3 acre-inches per acre are applied at this time.
Harvesting, and caring for the product.
In the sections of light and unirrigated land, the beans ripen from August 20 to September 10. In the irrigated parts and on heavier land, they ripen from September 10 to September 25 or October 1. These dates indicate the time the beans are harvested. Before the earliest date for each section there will be some dry pods in all the fields and at the latest date of harvest there are always green pods.
The beans are harvested by a seed-cutter with two runners 12 to 15 inches high. On the inner side of each a knife is set diagonally backward and toward the middle of the sled. A few inches above each knife is a bar of iron or wood set in a similar position. The sled-runners are such a distance apart that two rows of beans will pass between them. Hence each knife is drawn along the line of the row cutting the plants just below the surface of the ground. The diagonal position of the knife causes it to cut the plants clean without pulling up by the roots, and together with the diagonal bar above, pushes both rows to the middle, leaving them together in a windrow. These cutters are often mounted on wheels to bear the main weight of the sled and driver, the runner cutting into the ground just enough to hold it firmly to the row. Levers are provided to raise and lower the frame of the sled. A man with two or three horses, usually three, cuts from 8 to 12½ acres a day.
The vines, after lying in windrows for a few hours, as left by the cutter, are piled by hand with pitchforks. Three wind- tows are commonly placed together in one row of piles. Piles are 4 or 5 feet in diameter on the ground and 3 feet high. They remain in these piles till very dry, which is a length of time varying with the weather and the maturity of the beans, but usually from two to three weeks. A man is expected to pile about 5 acres a day, but frequently does not pile more than 2 or 3 acres. It requires from two to three men to handle the beans cut with one sled.
Threshing is done by itinerant machines, using for power either steam or gasolene engines. The machines thresh from 1,000 to 2,500 sacks per day, 1,500 being a fair day's work. In a few instances about 3,000 sacks have been threshed in a day. The charge is usually 25 cents a hundred pounds, equal to 20 cents a sack. The beans are stored in large warehouses until marketed, and are generally recleaned by a mechanical recleaner which is very satisfactory.
Yield and value of crop.
The average yield is about fourteen sacks, eighty pounds per sack, or about 1,120 pounds per acre. Some fields produce nearly three times this amount, but in the best section an average of twenty-five sacks or 2,000 pounds per acre is considered to be satisfactory.
Another factor which is of importance, and which has only recently come to be appreciated, is the value of the bean straw as rough feed. It is generally regarded that the straw is worth about $1 per ton in the field, loose. George W. Shaw.
The tepary is a small white bean native to the southwestern region of the United States (Phaseolus acutifolius var. latifolius), long grown by the Indians and now receiving attention from general cultivators. The first full acount is in Bulletin 68, Arizona Experiment Station (1912).
The development of artesian and dry-farming districts in Arizona, together with the increased use of pumped water for irrigation, have created a need for a leguminous crop which, used in rotation with grain or forage planting, will maintain the nitrogen and humous content of the soil and at the same time provide a money return which is sure and profitable. The experience of practical farmers throughout Arizona and New Mexico has for years demonstrated the fact that no crop so well fills this demand as the growing of dry shell beans. Being a countrywide food staple, they have a steady market which is little influenced by local conditions other than transportation charges. As corn in Illinois, cotton in Texas or wheat in Kansas represent to their producers products of staple value, so may the dry-farmers of the Southwest, and those irrigating with artesian and pumped waters, look to the bean as a money-crop which at all times may be surely and readily turned into cash.
Varieties of beans originated in the humid sections of the East are of but little value when grown in Arizona. They do not withstand satisfactorily the extreme aridity and heat of the air during the summer months. Out of a large number of varieties tested at Yuma, only those of southwestern origin were at all successful.
Among these southwestern varieties of beans, first tested at Yuma in 1909, certain ones were noted which gave yields far in excess of all others, including even the much-prized pink bean, or frijole. Subsequent investigations developed the fact that this group of varieties (known as teparies) was distinct from either the common kidney or snap bean. They were found to constitute a new species, hitherto unrecognized as a cultivated plant in botanical or horticultural literature. It has been described by the writer as a new variety of Phaseolus acutifolius. In its wild state, Phaseolus acutifolius is peculiar to the southwestern desert region. It may be found on the mountain-sides and in narrow valleys from the Pecos river westward across New Mexico and Arizona and southward into the adjoining states of Mexico. Domesticated from the neighboring canons and cultivated in small patches, attended at best by a crude husbandry and dependent upon the precarious summer rains and uncertain floods from the mountain washes for irrigation, the tepary has lost none of its native hardiness. It has been cultivated by the Papago and Pima Indians from prehistoric times and in all probability formed one of the principal food-crops of that ancient and unknown agricultural race, the ruins of whose cities and irrigating canals are now the only witnesses of their former presence and prosperity.
While growing, the tepary may easily be distinguished from the common garden bean by its more slender vines and smaller leaves. The leaves are also thinner, smoother, narrower and more pointed at the apex than those of the bean. The pods are smaller than those of the bean, averaging about 3 inches long and ⅖ inch wide. Being somewhat flattened and having thin, rather tough walls, the pods might resemble rather closely a small variety of the lima. Teparies, however, differ markedly from either the bean or the lima in the length of the stems bearing the first pair of aerial leaves. For teparies these measure only about ⅙ inch, whereas for beans and limas they will average an inch or more. The seeds of the tepary are smaller than those of the other sorts mentioned and there are a number of minor differences which suffice to give them a distinctive appearance at least to those who are familiar with the group. The seeds of the white variety are very similar to those of the navy bean, with which they would in all probability be classed on the general market. A convenient test for shelled tepary beans is to immerse them in water. They will wrinkle in five to ten minutes; while other cultivated species commonly require forty-five minutes to one hour.
The tepary as a food.
There is considerable difference of opinion as to the relative palatability of beans and teparies. Among the Indians and Mexicans, the commercial pink bean is preferred to the tepary, as they say it has a better flavor. These people, however, make the same difference between the pink bean and the white navy which is shipped in from the East. Teparies should be soaked twelve hours before cooking, during which time they swell to at least twice their original volume and more than double in weight. In this respect they markedly surpass other beans. Well-cooked teparies are light and mealy and have a rich bean-like aroma. Boiled and baked with bacon or mashed and added to soups, they form most acceptable dishes. To such as are fond of the onion, a small amount of this vegetable finely chopped and stirred in during boiling makes a pleasing addition.
Yields and culture.
The superiority of the tepary over other beans for planting in the Southwest is exhibited in its greater productivity when grown under similar conditions. This statement is not only true in irrigated sections, but even more marked in regions devoted to dry-farming. In nine experiments in Arizona covering almost every condition of soil, culture and water-supply, and extending over three years, the average yield of the teparies has been slightly more than four times the average for varieties of the kidney bean. These greater yields are due to the ability of the tepary to germinate quickly in the presence of a low moisture-content of the soil, with the resulting better stands on dry lands. The tepary is also able to withstand protracted seasons of drought without permanent injury, returning to full vigor immediately when the rains come. Other beans do not possess this ability to a marked degree. The tepary is also inured to the greatest extremes of summer temperatures and will bloom and set seed any month from May to November. On the other hand, when the blooming period of common beans happens to fall within a season of extreme heat, the buds will for the most part drop without setting pods. For these reasons the tepary is a more sure and dependable crop, often giving fair returns when beans are a total failure. With an ample supply of water, good soil and other conditions favorable, teparies should yield 700 to 1,200 pounds per acre. However, 1,500 pounds per acre have been reported from the Colorado Valley near Yuma. Under dry-farm conditions, yields of 450 to 700 pounds have been reported. On irrigated lands, teparies may be planted in southern Arizona any time from the early spring when danger of frost is past until August 10. The best crops however, are secured by early planting, March 20 to April 1, or by midsummer planting, July 12 to 25. In dry-farming, they are planted any time from the 10th to the 15th or 20th of July.
- Sunset National Garden Book. Sunset Books, Inc., 1997. ISBN 0376038608
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- Common bean QR Code (Size 50, 100, 200, 500)
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