Whenever I get a new pack of bean seeds I am always immediately compelled to open up the packet and inspect the beans. I used to play out this ritual with all seeds but years of seed purchasing and collecting has garnered a familiarity with certain seeds. It’s not that I’ve lost my love for seeds, but that it gets a bit repetitive. After all, while every tomato is different, the seeds are virtually identical. Yes, of course there are variations in size, shape, fuzziness, etc but those differences aren’t exactly interesting. At least to me they’re not.
Beans on the other hand are like beautiful jewels, each is unique in size, shape, color, pattern, and texture. Some are naturally shiny, others dull. There is even variation between seeds of the same variety. I’m a little embarrassed to guess at how much time I have clocked fondling a pack of 20 seeds, turning each one over in my hand. Actually, no I’m not. I think a lot of gardeners will confess to this same ritual. Beans are pretty.
And that is why I was able to spend an inordinate amount of time yesterday afternoon stewing in my own sweat inside a gigantic winter jacket and chatting with Colette of Urban Harvest about beans. She had some new varieties for sale this year, some of which she brought back from Slow Food’s Terra Madre Conference in Turin, Italy this past fall. And even though I already have more packs of beans than I can get into the ground within the next few seasons, I couldn’t help buying more.
Here’s what I got:
- ‘Christmas’ lima bean – You know, I’ve never grown lima beans. I’m kind of on the fence about them. I like them well enough, just never enough to bother growing them. Colette also confessed to a leave it attitude towards lima beans so when even she could speak so enthusiastically about this variety, I knew I had to try them. ‘Christmas’ is described as having a “nutty, chestnut-like taste and the texture of baked potatoes.” SOLD! They are also drought tolerant, which is handy since I will probably try growing them in a large bin on the roof. I probably would have hesitated and waited until Seedy Saturday in a few weeks to get them had Colette not mentioned that she only had two packs left and was probably going to save the last pack for herself. And once I had one pack of seeds in my hand the ball was rolled. And I rolled with it like the sucker I am.
- ‘Blue Jay’ bush bean – I’m not yet sure about the pods but was sold on this variety by the blue and white seed description. That and a general fondness for blue jays. Remember The Green Forest? That’s basically it. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: tell me a good story and I’ll buy your seeds. Although, this wasn’t even much of a story, but more about a personal sentiment that hit my weepy heart in the right place.
- ‘Tiger’s Eye’ bush bean – Another bean described as having a creamy, mashed potato texture. And… sold. I rarely worry about adding to my bush bean collection since I can usually find a container to grow them in.