What Beans to Save as Seed?

When planning your garden, and planning to save your own seed, crossbreeding is always a concern.  All beans will cross, even between bush and pole varieties within their respective subgroups (e.g. common, Lima, Runner, Fava).  Planting more than one variety of the same subgroup is not recommended.  Beans do not generally cross the subgroup boundaries, so, planting a variety of beans from different subgroups in close proximity is not a problem.

Seed savers should plant an additional ten feet or more of dry bean row and then select the best non-hybrid dry bean as seeds for next years’ garden and a few extra as reserve seed in case of crop failure.  As a general rule bean seed, should be chosen for:

  • Seed quality: seed should be mature, air dried, and not be moldy or have started to sprout
  • Size: the larger seed is generally considered to have been an indication of healthy growth.
  • Shape: choose seed that has a shape consistent with the norm for the variety of bean.
  • Color and Pattern: seed that has the color and pattern consistent with the norm for the variety of bean.

How many beans to grow in the Garden?

With the gardening season nearing, it’s time to consider what to plant and how much to plant. When considering how many beans to plant, follow these general rules.

As a rule, when planning for how many beans to plant in a season, you will need:

  • fifty feet of row per person for bush beans, or
  • thirty-five feet of row per person of pole beans.

Many gardeners make a distinction for planting amounts between varieties (e.g. common Vs. lima) or usage (snap Vs. dry), but this is not necessary, the rules hold up.

If you plan to dual-purpose your beans, to use and consume them both as snap and dry beans, then double your row footage per a person.  Additionally, mark which rows will be used as snap or dry beans is recommended to ensure the best possible quality and sufficient quantity for each use.  Keep in mind that snap beans are harvested while young tender and dry beans need time to mature and dry on the vine.

Seed savers should plant an additional ten feet of dry bean row and then select the best dry bean as seeds for next year’s garden and a few extra as reserve seed in case of crop failure.

Related References

What are pulses?

Pulses, simply stated, are dry legumes.  Pulses are the dry beans, peas, lentils, and other members of the legume family biologically characterized by seeds being carried in a pod (legume) and having distinctive five-petalled flowers. Their species compose the 14,000+ members of the leguminosae family, which can be found most of the world.

What are Lima Beans?

Lima Beans (Phaseolus lunatus)

Originally thought to originate from Brazil, a wild, primitive form of lima bean (Phaseolus lunatus) (also, known as butter beans) has been recently discovered in Guatemala, leading scientists to believe that the bean’s origins may actually lie there. The name “lima bean” originated from the discovery of the bean by European explorers in Lima, Peru. Its development includes three main courses of travel:

  • First, through Mexico into our Southwest, then over to Florida and up toward Virginia.
  • Second, down through Central America into Peru (this is where larger pods developed rather than typical lima beans of North America).
  • Ans, finally, eastward through the West Indies and Southward toward South America.

Lima beans are one of those foods I have always eaten but did not really appreciate, until, I started living in Texas where these heat-loving drought-tolerant beans thrived.  This hearty bean, despite their reputation, can be very flavorful and bountiful.