Ingredient Page: Beans (Snap, Dry) (mattvonada.com)
Beans (Snap, Dry)

Culinary Usage:

This is a tough one to write - snap beans (e.g. "green beans") and dry beans (e.g. kidney, lima, black, pinto, navy...) are more or less the same plant. However, snap beans were bred to grow longer and have a thicker and fleshier shell, which is what we want for fresh eating. Meanwhile, dry beans were bred for the seeds/beans on the insides. If one would leave green beans on the plant, they'd see beans forming inside the pod, and people could possibly eat black beans inside the pod while fresh, but I can't imagine either is great. Generally, snap beans are the only ones eaten fresh, but they do come in several colors (not just "green").

Snap beans usually get boiled or sauteed here, no real recipe needed. Dry beans usually end up in chili or stewed alone. Someday, I aim to try baked beans, but have not thus far.

With dry beans, you need to re-hydrate before eating. Since they're normally eaten cooked, you can just simmer beans for a long time to achieve this. You could also soak in water in the refrigerator for a few hours (overnight works) if you know you'll be cooking them ahead of time.


Planting Time: Early MAY, JUL (in central Maryland)
Harvest Time: JUL-AUG (in central Maryland)

Spacing: 3" in row, 18" between rows

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Gardening Tips:

Snap and Dry beans are both included on this page because they're the same type of plant (Phaseolus vulgaris). Treat them the same in the garden up to the harvesting phase.

A larger set of differences in beans (for gardeners, at least) is whether you grow bush or pole beans. Bush beans grow only 2 feet high or so, set fruit, and stop producing. Pole beans (aka Runner beans) try to climb up something (like... a pole) and set fruit, but over a longer period.

The advantages of bush beans are that they don't need supports and you can plant multiple plantings in a season (if you pick them while fresh). Pole beans' advantage is that you can get more beans out of one planting.

I plant double-rows of beans, about 10" between rows in a double-row, 20" between double-rows. Reader's Digest suggests planting every 3 weeks for continuous harvest.

Bunnies and deer are a problem for our beans. The leaves are apparently like Cheetos to bunnies. Beans have actually grown fine, but perhaps I need to consider protecting them better in 2014.

People will try to sell you innoculants to help your beans grow - they're almost certainly not necessary, but I have used them. Perhaps I should do a study someday... my understanding is that they're a bacteria that helps add nitrogen to the soil.

Harvest snap beans when they get long but before beans swell in the pods or pods become bendable (they should 'snap', duh), harvest dry beans when the bean pods are beginning to dry.


Fertilizer Notes:

You don't need to fertilize beans - they actually add nitrogen TO the soil.

Reader's Digest does suggest a sprinkling of 5-10-5 when bush beans are 6" tall.


Preservation Notes:

Dry beans can just be kept in a cool, dry place after harvesting. No need to preserve in any special way.

Green beans can be frozen after a quick blanch. They may also be canned, but the flavor is altered, and I am not a fan.


Matt's Garden Notes:

Matt's 2013 Map

2012: green beans grew well, not many are needed for fresh eating here. Found it hard to keep up with picking 2 short rows.

2013: 2 14-foot rows of snap beans, 3 14-foot rows of black beans. Would like to try lots of different types - I eat black beans the most, but perhaps navy beans for white chili? Everything went in in mid-May (a little late) and snap beans were producing by mid-July.


Recipes using Beans (Snap, Dry):

Black Bean Chili
Not-so Refried Beans

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