Beanz Meanz …… a winter of hearty stews, casseroles and chilli


The bean filled raised beds in the vegetable plot

This year’s bean crop has been of mixed success. Some of the varieties I tried stopped growing at two leaves (e.g. Cherokee Trail of Tears and Cobra). I thought that something might have eaten them and I waited for side shoots to develop, but nothing more appeared and they didn’t look nibbled. I’ve never seen that happen before. Then my first two wigwams of runner beans were decimated by slugs. Repeatedly. However, since I know that I have trouble with slugs I always start runner beans off in pots to give them a fighting chance, hoping that if they get high enough before they go in the ground that they will out run the slugs. Not this year though. We obviously encourage high climbing molluscs. Luckily I sow spare plants, so I was able to patched losses several times before I finally gave in and just emptied the remaining dried beans in clusters of about ten at the base of each cane. That seemed to work and kept the successional sowing going nicely.


Runner bean wigwam last week …. still going strong

Good job I save so many dried beans! The reason behind that is partly sentimental, because my lecturer gave all his students black runner bean seed that he had selectively breed over the years. It seems only fair to keep them going and pass them on to others when I get the chance. In the end though, we’ve had an absolutely fantastic harvest from the runner beans. We’ve been eating them for over two months, I’ve frozen loads and they are still going strong.

The beans that were most steady in their performance were the Borlotti. They reached the top of the frame first, flowered first, formed pods and then basked in the sun, turning that lovely rosy, glowing pink. They have been looking good all summer.


Borlotti beans basking in the autumn sunshine

In this last week their leaves have begun to yellow and fall and the pods are turning a darker purple and are starting to dry on the vines. Since I mostly use them as a dried bean this is exactly what I want to happen, before it gets too damp and cold. If that does happen then I will need to cut the vines at ground level (leaving the roots with their fixed nitrogen in the soil) and hang them in the garage to continue drying.

Surprisingly, the other bean that has done well in the garden this year is a dwarf bean called variously Yin Yang, Calypso or Orca beans. It is surprising only because the slugs didn’t seem to touch them until they set seed. A few pods have been damaged, but for the most part they have escaped major losses. You can use the young beans as they form, but they are a good dried bean and are particularly tasty in chillis.


Yin yang beans. Cute aren’t they?

So now I am looking forward to an autumn and winter of delicious stews, casseroles and mexican meals. I have also decided to eat some of the frozen runner beans at Christmas. Can’t wait! As for the failures, I will get new seed in, try some new varieties (I’ve been mulling over cowpeas for instance) and next year I think that I will have to invest in some Nemaslug.


Best beans this year: Borlotti, Runner and Yin Ying

How have your beans been this year?


Orcas or beans?





About Frogend_dweller

Living in the damp middle of nowhere
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19 Responses to Beanz Meanz …… a winter of hearty stews, casseroles and chilli

  1. Lovely to have such a shot of colour and cheer on a grey day spent nursing a cold. Thank you, and for introducing me to the delightful black and white beans, I shall try them next year. Your killer whales made me laugh 😊.

    • Oh dear, hope that you are feeling better soon. It clouded over here too this afternoon. I had to do the comparison for my own peace of mind (and it was more fun than the Yin yang one).

  2. Fascinating post. Those Yin Yang beans are adorable. I have to grow them next year! I am sorry you’ve had such problems with slugs – with us its snails and they are even harder to eradicate (but make better missiles!).

    • Thanks, Yin Yang beans are works of art, just like they’ve been hand-painted. I am resigned to the slugs seeing as this area of the village is called Frog End (and we are surrounded by ditches), but I’ve heard good things of Nemaslug so I will try to be organised enough to use it next year. I now have a mental picture of you hurling snails into the sea!

      • You keep that image. It will fool my neighbours into thinking that’s where they go – not into their gardens 😉 Rather gruesome but if I hurl them onto the flat roof of our neighbour’s garage the seagulls come down and take them. That’s why nothings eats seagulls!

  3. Eliza Waters says:

    So glad to read all about these beans. I’ve been growing scarlet runners for years, but the Borlotti and orca look like something I would love to grow as well. The orcas would look so lovely stored in a clear jar!

  4. How amazing to have a wigwam full of flowers at this time of year. I’ve made a note to plant a second crop late summer 2016. Borlotti beans are a favourite not least because they look so spectacular and I must try the black and cream beans since dwarf French never seem to produce much of a crop for me.

    • Yes, I can’t quite believe it either, but I am still gathering more than I can cope with daily, hence the freezing. The other dwarf bean I usually get a v. good crop from, but for some reason didn’t grow this year, is ‘Early Warwick’. Have you tried that one?

  5. Christina says:

    I love the patten of the yin yang beans, I’ll have to look out for them. Bar lotto beans are lovely, I usually grow the dwarf variety rather than climbing, in our hot summers I can get two crops to ripen, people here use them fresh too, although to be honest they take almost as long to cook. My most successful beans this year were yard long, and some really were! They thrived in the very hot summer.

  6. Chloris says:

    I love all your beans. The borlotti look gorgeous and next year I think I will try the Yin Yang.

  7. Gillian says:

    Thanks for sharing your photos and info about your beautiful beans. It’s funny how slugs seem to target one group of plants isn’t it? I didn’t grow beans this year – usually I start them off in pots too. I think sturdy healthy plants help to ward off slugs somehow. I’ve heard that leaving wilted leaves close to your precious crops will attract slugs away but that didn’t work for my Cosmos this year. The Pink and White survived and thrived but the slugs ate every single orange one!

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