I hate to admit it, but my green beans are AWFUL!
Is it me, or the kind of bean I planted?
Are you letting them grow too large?
I asked a similar question over on the legume forum and haven't gotten any replies. I think people assume that you're just waiting too long to pick, which is NOT the case with us. From the info I found on my own, I think our own problem was the temperatures being too high when the beans were setting Ã¯Â¿Â½ not so high as to cause the blossoms to drop, but high enough to make the beans tough, even when young. :( As soon as the weather started cooling off, they started producing beans that are much more tender. What I don't understand is why my Blue Lakes were doing this and the runners were not; runners are supposedly more sensitive to (dislike) heat. *shrug* Inadequate fertility or moisture can also cause problems with beans, but that's the case with most vegetables, so I'll assume you've covered those angles.
What variety are you growing?
Sorry, that gibberish was supposed to be a dash (second time today, oops)!
Kentucky Wonder Beans
I grew Kentucky Wonders two years ago. They continued to produce all summer, more or less, which was a big plus, but they would not stay on the vine even one day too long without getting tough. As the weather cooled, they became far more forgiving. Perhaps that will be your experience too.
Blue Lake bush beans are what I like to grow. They produce and stay sweet even when picked a bit large. Freeze well, too. I grew some pole beans and they did not freeze well, therefore I will not grow them again.
They've got a cross called Kentucky Blue.
We grew Kentucky Wonder last year and picked early or late they were uniformly awful--tough and chewy--so no I don't think it's your gardening ability just the variety.
And go figure, the Burpee seed package says that the Kentucky Wonder is "a customer favorite". I grew them, and they're not a favorite of this customer. They have been better off pickled.
Thanks all. I "Wonder" who grows these beans? Even my rabbits won't eat them. (They like the leaves though!) Well I guess I get to checked another thing off my "what I learned from gardening" list! 107 degrees here today. No beans for us.
I haven't grown either of these varieties for at least 25 years. However I have heard that Kentucky Wonder is rather picky about conditions. Haven't heard great reports about it from Oklahoma or much of the South or Midwest. Yet, when I was growing up in NJ, it was my parents' favorite. I remember it being very good.
For some time now I've been gravitating to Appalachian tender podded beans. These are old fashioned "string beans," in that they generally have a heavy string. However the pods stay tender right up until they start drying down for seed. Below is a link which does an excellent job of describing this kind of bean.
Macky77, I saw your question over on the Beans & Legumes forum. But I simply haven't had the experience of beans being tough from the get-go. I was hoping someone with experience would pipe up.
Here is a link that might be useful: Sustainable Mountain Agriculture Beans
For years we grew 'Kentucky' as it was considered to be the best.
Since then they came out with the 'Romas', still pole beans but have white flowers and are free of pollination problems. Seed from Johnny's.
We grow them and will never go back to the 'Kentucky' variety.
Thank you, George (macmex). :) I had been wondering if I asked some sort of weird question over there and everyone was rolling their eyes and just passing it over. Nice to know it's just a rare occurrence!
We got some nice, tender beans of the Blue Lake poles last week. This week, however, has been hovering close to 30 degrees (low to mid 80s F) and they're getting tough again. The tender ones were GREAT, but if this variety is going to be this sensitive, it's just not worth growing for me.
keski, were the pole beans blue lake pole beans? I ordered some for next year hoping they will be the same as the bush. Let me know please!
I grew Blue Lake bush beans. Have had them in since I came back to veggie gardening 3 yrs. ago. They were a favorite of my M-I-L. I have to agree with her on this one.
keski, My question was, were the pole beans that you didn't like Blue Lake or another variety? I have always grown the bush and love them. I don't want to plant the pole Blue lakes and be disappointed!
You mentioned heat. If you're growing bush beans, try one of the varieties known for heat tolerance, such as Brio or Festina. I know of no variety that will remain tender when temperatures are above about 105 degrees. The heat-tolerant ones tend to bear all at once. I just plan on switching to edamame or cowpea relatives when it's really hot.
Contender, which does well in spring in the South, gets fibrous (not stringy) in cool fall weather. Brio does much better in cool weather than Contender even though it's supposed to be a hot-weather variety. But I like to plant varieties that I can use as "shellies" in fall, in case cool weather makes the pods unusable. Black Valentine, Coco Rose de Prague, etc.
Romanette is the most heat-tolerant of the flat beans that I've tried. Romano Gold isn't too bad. Maxibel is the best filet I've tried for hot weather. Emerite pole filet is a complete waste of time here: in hot weather the beans are curled-up little leathery husks.
I was given some seed of Champagne pole beans, which are more tolerant of heat than most pole beans. Kentucky Wonder is more heat-tolerant than the Blue Lake or Filet types, but it is naturally kind of on the tough side. Some of the flat pole beans require perfect weather for good quality. I have gotten some beans on pole varieties in hot weather when grown on a fence with vining squashes, but they're more a surprise than a crop.
The pole beans were Kentucky Wonder. I've only ever planted Blue Lake as a bush bean so I can't speak to quality of the pole bean of that same name.
I picked some slightly over-mature green beans the other day and cooked and buttered them. We didn't finish them, so I reheated them the next day, and the most mature ones showed a tendency to split in half into two long bean halves, and had a distinctive somewhat meaty texture that I remembered from eating at the homes of my Tennessee relatives.
I seem to have a faint memory that a "mess of beans" back then was a potful of big, slightly over-mature string/snap beans cooked fairly long (for beans) with some bacon or pork in the pot, and that they did tend to split. These overmature beans are no good when they're cooked like more tender beans - steamed or boiled briefly to a glowing green and a tender snap between your teeth - but they can be good cooked longer with some salt and fat.
So maybe that's what Kentucky Wonder is good for. I'm planning to plant some next year to see.
Yes, Chickenfreak, a "mess of beans" is what Kentucky Wonders are good for. Remember to string them.
As my mother-in-law says, the Blue Lake types are "just green, they're not beans".
They used to grow and cook bush pintos this way. She's tired of stringing beans now, though. Her favorite stringless bean is Contender (grown in spring - not fall). She still wants them bigger than I would normally pick them.