November 22, 2017

Preaching Beans

Rattlesnake pole bean

Janine Pineo Photo | Rattlesnake pole bean

Ask gardeners about their preferences for a green bean and you are likely to hear a litany of varieties and why it is the only variety he or she will grow. Ask this gardener (hi, it’s Janine!) and she will say the best you can find is Rattlesnake, a pole bean. This heirloom is  a vigorous climber, with vines that can easily reach 10 feet in length. It is a steady producer, with plenty of lavender-hued flowers appearing over several weeks. With adequate moisture and regular picking of the round, purple-streaked beans, the plants will keep producing longer than bush beans. The seed within the bean also makes a good shelling bean, and it is the color of that which is the source of the name because the dried bean is tan with “rattlesnake streaks.” It even does fairly well in drier weather. This year in the Garden Maine plot, we’ve picked the 70 feet of plants three times and canned 38 quarts with more to eat for dinner each time. Also in store for future pickings: dilly beans, roasted beans and frozen beans. It all makes us understand why it may have its other name, which is common in the South: Preacher bean. We never tire of singing its praises.

Seed source: Fedco Seeds