The majority of beans grown as dry beans are bush types. Although there are many wonderful varieties of bush beans, we prefer to grow our beans vertically, preferably up a corn stalk or other support, which means we need pole-bean varieties. One of our favorite pole types is the Hopi Red dry bean. Often labeled, possibly incorrectly, as a Lima bean, the seeds of this wonderful legume are much better suited to chili and other Hispanic dishes. They have an almost nutty taste and because they are very high in protein, they make a wonderful choice for a Meatless Monday meal.
In general, beans are very likely the easiest plant to grow. We joke that you can give a 2-year-old child a bean seed to plant and if he doesn’t stick it up his nose or try to eat it, he can grow beans successfully. Hopi Red is an excellent example. It is a quick-growing plant, with pretty white flowers. Native to the southwestern area of the US, these plants prefer warm weather. Note that they did just fine here in our USDA Zone 5/6 northeast Pennsylvania garden. The pods first turn from green to red, but they should be left on the plant until they start to dry and turn yellow. After harvesting, remove the seeds and allow them to continue to air dry before storing them in a food safe container.
You can soak the beans overnight before cooking them, or just pressure cook them for a few minutes to save time. Be sure to set a few seeds aside to plant the following year.
Look for other varieties as well, such as the Hopi Yellow, Black, Purple and Mottled. So many options to choose from, it can be hard to decide.
Botanical name: Phaseolus vulgaris
Variety: Hopi Red dry bean
Days to Maturity: 50 to 55 days, plus time to dry.
Growth habit: Vining. Provide trellis or other support.
Gardening Jones is a Pennsylvania-based master gardener. Read her other Horticulture posts here and learn more at gardeningjones.com/.
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