Peas & Beans (2017)

This is a super low-photo post, but I hope to update you all once things start growing.


Initially, I planned to get the Peas sown around the beginning of May (as they can take a little cold and frost). But, as you can tell, I’m writing this post on May 22, and I just finally got around to sticking them into the ground yesterday.

I was going to sow a few different varieties. I do have a good collection of seed to pick and choose from. However, I stopped myself at 2 varieties because I was struggling to find homes for them all. I had some self seeded peas popping up, conveniently right where I wanted to put a little tee-pee. Since they are probably ‘Sugar Snap’, I sowed more ‘Sugar Snap’ around them.

The second variety is ‘Blauwschokkers Blue Podded Pea‘. I grew them last year, and while they are not the best tasting pea, they are beautiful. Plus, to give them the benefit of the doubt, I never got around to tasting them as a mature, podded pea.


Since I never got around to sowing any Beans last year, I wanted to make sure I didn’t miss them this year. Beans are one of my favourite garden treats. I sowed 4 different climbing/Pole varieties, and 2 different bush varieties. Since some of my seed is quite old, I over seeded in the hopes of good germination.

Bean Varieties this year (and some quick notes in the brackets):

  • ‘Enorma’ Runner Bean (green with HUGE pods, if you let them grow)
  • ‘Cobra’ French Climbing Bean (green beans… delicious taste, lots of beans)
  • ‘Trofino Violetta’ Pole Bean (beautiful purple beans. Personal Favourite)
  • ‘Scarlet Emperor’ Runner Bean (green beans, large pods if you let them grow….with beautiful red flowers)
  • ‘Royal Burgundy’ Bush Bean (deep purple, good taste, LOTS of beans)
  • ‘Gold Rush’ Bush Bean (yellow beans… First year growing them)

I am always amazed at how different beans are. Since my hands were covered in dirt, I didn’t manage to get a photo to show you just how different they all were, although I wanted to. I would recommend grabbing a few different kinds of beans for your own garden. You can grow a rainbow of varieties. You’ll never want beans from the store after you have grown your own. Bonus… they are one of the easiest things to grow.

Sometimes getting photos is hard when the feline is starved for attention. Such a good helper-cat. 😉

Someday I will have a HUGE garden where I can have more than a handful of each plant.


How to Start Gardening – Picking Seeds (Bean edition)


IMG_2786A few weeks ago, I posted a “How to Start Gardening” post. I wanted it to be an inspiring way to just start gardening if you never have. You don’t need a huge plot of land to start. We all WANT it, but you don’t NEED it. And if one day in the future you do get that plot of land to have a dream vegetable garden on – Starting now, by growing some lettuce in a pot by your front door, will give you more knowledge and confidence to take that land head on and make it productive for you. Even if you only get one salad all year from that bit of lettuce you grow, I am willing to bet that it will be the best salad you have ever had. Because you grew it.


Anyway, I’ll stop waxing philosophic and get down to what I really wanted to talk about today, and that is picking seeds. All the seed stands are showing up in the big stores right now, and its a good time to check them out and see what you may want to grow.

They can also be daunting. You just want to grow some beans, but which ones to pick? SO MANY CHOICES! Beans are actually a good first example for me to pick, because it is easy to narrow down your choices. First, are you growing them in a pot? If so, stick to ‘bush’ or ‘dwarf’ varieties. You don’t want it to say ‘climbing’ ‘pole’ or ‘runner’ if you are growing it in a pot. I haven’t had much luck with climbing beans in pots (not that I have tried much as I always have some ground to put them in), but bush beans seem to grow where ever I put them.

Basically, you can just pick whichever bush bean variety you want. I tend to grow different coloured ones. The purple ones are really fun, and not something you can usually find at the grocery store.


IF you have some ground to grow in… Beans are a great first crop to try out, as they can help improve your soil at the same time as giving you a crop. Because they are a legume, they have little nodules in their roots, that store nitrogen from the air. This helps turn it into nutrition in the soil for other plants. They also tend to grow almost anywhere making them a good confidence builder.

If you have the ground and something pretty tall for them to climb, and a pretty sunny location… Keep “Scarlet Runner Beans” in mind. They produce beautiful red flowers (that attract bees, butterflies and if you are lucky, hummingbirds!), and give you a great crop of delicious beans… The more beans you pick, the more the flowers keep coming. You can either find them in the flower area or the vegetable area of the seed rack.

Scarlet Runner Bean Flower

I will end this post with a few varieties that McKenzie seeds carries that I have had great success with. I am not sponsored by them or anything, they are just the most accessible seeds around here. If you are picking anything a little bit different, like the purple varieties, now is a good time to pick them up before everyone else does.

Purple Varieties:

Yellow Varieties:

  • ‘Kentucky Wonder Wax Pole’ – This is actually the only yellow bean that I have grown personally. It does well, but you need to check it often. It produces a huge yield everytime I’ve grown it.
  • This year, I picked up some ‘Goldrush’ (bush) beans from Burpee to try too. I’m sure I’ll let you know how they grow. Curiously, it is not on their website.

Green Varieties: (I have narrowed this list down to just a few favourites, but pretty much every green bean I have tried I have loved, so just pick one that sounds good to you and give it a go)


DRY BEANS. These are ones that you plant and let grow without picking the beans. You want the bean pods to dry on the plant, and then you harvest the beans inside. For these you need a nice long season to give them the required time to dry out. Typically, they are climbing/pole/runner type beans rather than bush varieties. Seeds for this type of bean are typically sold through catalogues or online and you can find some really cool heritage and heirloom varieties this way. If you are building your confidence (especially in a climate like mine), I would stick to the fast maturing bush beans. If you are branching out and trying new things, give these few easy to pick up varieties a try before venturing into heirloom territory:

  • ‘Rattlesnake’ These are sometimes sold as a “kids” seed pack. They look cool and grow well.
  • ‘Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco’ (Bush) – These are a GREAT one to try. You can eat some of the beans when they are young and green, and let the rest mature on the plant for some dried beans. They are a nice speckled red colour. They tend to sprawl out a bit rather than keeping to an actual bush habit, so keep that in mind when growing them. The beans in the photo above are from these Botlotto beans.
  • ‘Pinto’ beans. I have found these in the past from McKenzie seeds, but I can’t seem to find it on their website now. They grew so good for me last year, and I got a decent harvest (over 2 cups of dried beans) from only 3 plants.

Broad Beans– (or Fava Beans) These are way different, and I have only had success with one kind- ‘Windsor’. I also don’t LOVE the taste of them, but the flowers are gorgeous and the way they grow is fasinating. If you have some open ground to try them, go for it. They are fun to grow. Their seeds are HUGE. I won’t be growing these again until I have more garden space, or I find I miss their flowers.

I know I mentioned before, But I want to emphasize that I am in no way sponsored by McKenzie seeds. They just happen to be the easiest to come-by seeds around here. The varieties mentioned are also only suggestions that I have personally had luck with in the past. Pick something and experiment – The worst thing to happen will be it not growing… Then you just try again next time.

I know I started this post using lettuce as an example, and I will get to writing a post about which lettuce seeds to grow… I just wanted to pick something I thought was a good and easy place to start growing straight from seed.

This year, I will also try and get more harvest pictures of beans. I went through the archives and I have almost zero pictures of the hoards of beans I have harvested over the years. Probably because I am too busy shoving them into my mouth rather than taking pictures of them.



Peas & Beans Update (July 6/2015)

I just finished a 5 day break from work, but head back today, so I thought I would get a post in before I get overwhelmed with all the things that didn’t get done while I was away. Just kidding, I’m sure everything is fine there.

The Peas in the container are doing well finally and starting to put on some growth. I’m not sure on which variety is in here, but I know it is a shorter more winter hardy one… Possibly ‘Alaska’

The taller climbing Peas are almost up to the top of our window sill, and are just starting to put some flowers out. These are a mix of ‘Sugar Snap’ and ‘Wando’ varieties.

The Broad Beans are starting to make little Beans. They were not as covered in flowers this year, so the crop won’t be huge… Or maybe they are just getting a slower start, but hopefully they are doing what I really want them to do and fixing some nitrogen so I can just dig the roots into the bed in the fall.

The Climbing Beans that I started in newspaper pots are doing amazing. I will have to remember to do this again next spring, because it really gave me a jump on the season. The 2 left canes are ‘Enorma’ Runner Beans, the middle 3 canes are ‘Cobra’ French Climbing Beans, and the 2 canes on the right are the purple climbing beans that I grew last year, ‘Trionfo Violetta’.

The Pinto Beans are doing well. They are starting to get flowers down close to the base of the plants. I am questioning whether we will have a long enough summer to get these to dry out enough to store. But we will find out I guess.

Along the fence, I have ‘Kentucky Wonder Wax’ Pole Beans. I direct-sowed them, so there should be a good succession of beans throughout the summer.

In the fence bed, I also did a random row of Bush Beans that I had from the past few years. There are some ‘Royal Burgundy,’ ‘Green Crop,’ ‘Tendergreen Improved,’ and ‘Contender.’ I don’t know which is which, and the only ones I will be able to tell apart are the Burgundy ones. Which, in the end doesn’t matter, as long as we get beans to eat.

In the bed by the house, I also have more bush beans. Same varieties as above, but also a few ‘Borlotto Lingua Di Fuoco’ Bush beans. I have a semi-3 sisters thing happening in here with the corn and squash all near each other.

Well, that is all my Peas and Beans this year. I have a few things to change for next year, but that is always the case isn’t it? I hope the squirrel doesn’t like peas and beans as much as he likes Strawberries, otherwise I won’t have much of a crop to speak off.

Broad beans

 I planted out the ‘Windsor’ broad beans on May 8.

It snowed on May 11.

The beans are fine…

Broad beans are not my most favourite bean. But as a plant, they are very welcome in my garden. Their nitrogen fixing nodules on their roots will help my soil. Their early flowers will make the bees happy. The early harvest of something from the garden is also a welcome inspiration to keep working in the garden. Plus, I really like sowing the giant seeds. They (along with runner beans) have a magic bean feel to them… Always good for your inner child.


I also planted some Fava bean seeds at the same time. The broad beans are around 6 inches tall, but only 2 of the Fava’s are starting to germinate now. I think I’ll stick to the broad beans from here on out.


OKAY… I realize that Broad Beans and Fava beans are really the same thing, and mostly differentiated by UK and US English… BUT, from the same seed company, I have Fava bean seeds and I have Broad Bean seeds, which is why I make the distinction between them here. The Fava’s that I planted are probably better for warmer climates like the Southern States, where as the Broad Beans originating from England are more adapted to our colder temperatures and number of daylight hours.

If you are interested, I wrote some updates with pictures about some of my Broad Beans last year(2014) Here on June 13, and Here on June 28. I also made a quick video on my youtube channel of the ants that patrolled them.


Beans – Varieties I’m Growing in 2014

Last year, I wrote a post about the beans I was going to be growing… Which ended up not being a thing, because life got a little difficult with the shoulder out of service (tore part of my rotater cuff in my right shoulder and was basically one-armed until August)… This year, I am ACTUALLY growing them. They have all been planted, so I’m not even jumping the gun on this one. The first plants are starting to poke their heads through the soil, so I thought this would be as good of time as any to write a dedicated bean post.

Lets start with the bush beans, which were all sown on June 4th.

Contender – I picked these ones for the picture on the seed packet. The beans are a beautiful green, and nice and straight. The back of the packet states:  “Contender is a definite prizewinner. A short season variety ideal for cooler climates, this bush type produces abundant quantities of stringless pods. Pick pods when 5-6″ for best taste.”


Amethyst Purple Stringless Filet – I picked these, simply because they were purple. The packet describes them as “Beautiul oval shape beige seeds in a dark purple, smooth, straight and long 5-6″ pod. Stringless. High resistance to Bean Common Mosaic. Dwarf Bush habit. Very popular is soups and salads. Has a creamy texture and also good in salsa.”


Greencrop – I picked this variety because they grow a little longer than the others, and are great for a wide variety of things. “An abundant crop of tasty beans on prolific bush plants. Long 6-8″ beans are perfect for fresh use, canning, freezing or frenching.”


Tendergreen Improved – I’ve had these in my seed stash since 2012. I can’t really say why I chose them, because it was so long ago. The back of the package says ” Tender, smooth, very meaty green bean. Extremely popular with gardeners because of its resistance to disease, heat tolerance and prolific yields. 6″ long, straight pods make this an ideal candidate for fresh table use or for freezing.”


Borlotto Lingua di Fuoco – These looked interesting, so I figured I would give them a shot. “A great tasting bean variety. Straight pods with splashes of red and yellow make it a perfect selection. High yielding!”


So far, there is not a lot to say about them.  Next year, if I really like them, I will probably pick up 2 packages of the Purple and Borlotto varieties, as there was not a whole lot of seeds in the package. Hopefully we have a bumper bean crop this year.

Do you have any favorite bush bean varieties that I should try for next year? Put them in the comments section below.


Onto the Runner/Pole beans now.

Scarlet Runner – (Sown on May 31) McKenzie Seeds sells this both as a a vegetable and as a flowering vine. The vegetable version of the package describes it as “Very unique! Brilliant scarlet flowers that attract hummingbirds contrast attractively against the dark green foliage. All this and edible too! The vines provide an extremely high yield of delicious 8-10″ snap beans. Very tender when cooked. Seeds can also be dried. Harvest when young. Climbs 6-10′.”  The flowering vine version of the package describes: ” This full leaved vine is a vigorous climber bearing beautiful brilliant scarlet flowers that attract hummingbirds. Excellent for covering fences, arbors and poles. Harvesting the delicious young beans encourages flowering. Beans are very tasty and tender when picked early.”

(sorry I forgot to add a picture of these before I tossed the empty seed packets.)

Kentucky Wonder Wax (Pole) – (Sown May 31). Why did I pick this kind? I wanted a yellow bean variety and these were the ones my hand reached for. Package describes: “A delicious home garden variety, best when pods are picked young. Pods are round, 8″ long with a creamy, light yellow color. Use fresh or frozen.”


Pinto – (Sown June 10). I picked these just because they are pinto beans. The seed packet description: “The pinto bean is an oval, multicolored bean often used in Mexican cuisine. Easy to grow and provides excellent nutritional value. Grow in full sun and well drained fertile soil. Incorporate organic matter into the soil at planting and fertilize again as flowering and bud-set begins. Dry bean do require a longer growing season as you harvest them at full maturity. Use either fresh or dried. Staking is recommended (pole type).”


Trionfo Violetta (Sown June 14) – I chose these because they are another purple variety. McKenzie seeds describes them as: “A very popular European variety. This stringless variety produces deep purple pods measuring 6″ long. Beans turn green when cooked.”


Smeraldo (Sown June 14) – One look at the picture and you could tell I picked these because they are so different from the others I am growing. The back of the seed packet states: “Smeraldo produces an abundance of medium flat stringless pods. This terrific bean has a very distinct and wonderful flavor.”



Last but definitely not least, the Broad Beans.

Windsor – I picked these up, because of all the English YouTube gardeners I watch. Everyone raves about Broad Beans. The package description reads: “Prolific yielder. Long 6-8″ pods with 4-6 large, flat beans inside. Delicious when cooked, slices, used in soups or casseroles. Tolerant of frost, so can be sown as soon as ground can be worked. Pick when plump and cook like peas or Lima beans. Fragrant flowers.”



If you have any tips or tricks, or recipes, especially for the broad beans, please leave them in the comments section below. I could use all the help and encouraging as possible. Here is to 2014 being the year of the beans (and tomatoes, and corn and pumpkins and carrots and leeks and parsnips and all the other things I am trying this year).  I will try and make a bean-specific follow-up post to this after they have done some growing, but until then, follow along in my “greenhouse garden” updates.


One last little piece of information. All of these seeds are from McKenzie seeds. This is not a sponsored post. They probably don’t even know I exist. They are just the most available seed company, since they have seeds in nearly every store. Also, because they are based in Manitoba, I have a little more faith that these are chosen to withstand the prairie weather.