Mennonite Dry Pole Bean

Originally acquired from Sauk River Seed, this is an heirloom bean, which I have been maintaining for some years now.  The Mennonite pole bean has proven to be one of my heartiest of the common pole beans.  Even under drought conditions, this bean has proven to produce more and be healthier than any other common pole bean in my inventory, if given a minimum of water and care.  Under ideal conditions, this is an outstanding producer.  Best used as a dry, or shell bean, The Mennonite bean has an excellent nutty taste, makes excellent eating, and is an excellent substitute for pinto beans.

Except for larger size, very like the Czechoslovakian “Honey” pole bean and another bean known in Minnesota as the “Swedish”, but outperforms both.  The young pods can be canned fresh, in the upper Midwest Mennonites, traditionally, allow them to dry on the vine until frost, then store them for winter cooking.

This bean is sturdy and disease-resistant, requiring a strong trellis or fence.  Continues to produce until the first frost.

Year Introduced: 1864

Status: Heirloom

Size: Very large; up to ½ inch.

Color: Light coffee or dark tan

Type: Dry/Shell

Good as Green Beans: Not Really

Sun: plant in full sun

Soil Type:  most soils are fine

Emerges: 7-10 days

Edible: in 69 days

Habit: Pole

Seed Shape: A compact almost rectangular

Pod Length:  9 inches

Vine Height:  six to ten feet

Maturity: 90 days

Genealogy: Phaseolus vulgaris

Plant

Sow directly in warm soil, sets of three, about 1 ½ inches deep, 4 inches apart, and with a row spacing of about 4 feet between rows.

Care

When plants reach 6 inches in height, side-dress them compost, manure or slow-release fertilizer.  Give plenty of water throughout the active growing season.  For Dry beans, reduce watering during the last month.

Harvest

As green Beans

Pick as pods reach mature length, but before large seed form, then de-string, and cook. They may, also, be blanched and frozen or canned promptly.

As Dry Beans

Before the first frost cop vines free from the soil to stop growth.  Allow pods to dry thoroughly.  If a hard frost threatens, bring pods indoors, in a warm dry place, to finish drying.  In long growing season areas, harvest dry pods, as they become available, shell, and store in a breathable container in a cool dry place, protected from direct sunlight.