Out of a can, green beans are a boring vegetable, but they get real exciting when you start investigating garden beans to grow at home. Suddenly you’re faced with an amazing array of options, and they’re not all green! You’ve got heirloom varieties with catchy names, and exotic sounding seed listings from all over the world. Furthermore, there’s really enticing pod colors to consider as well… yellow, red, purple, and even two-colored variations.
Some of them are so beautiful between the flowers and fruits – you might just be tempted to let them run amok across your porch or balcony roof. Yes, you could get away with growing veggies in the front yard! The food plant in disguise the plant that will quickly cover a decorative arch. In fact, there are a good number of pole beans that you could pull off growing as part of your landscaping – just be sure to choose selections that have pretty flowers for weeks and weeks 😉
1 HYACINTH BEAN
These garden beans originate in Asia, and many perennial nurseries have sold them as purely ornamental for years. However, they are safe to eat. The leaves, flowers, and young shoots can be eaten raw. Young pods with immature seeds can be eaten cooked. The dried beans and root are edible too after a lot of cooking. So why do they say that they are poisonous? They are, once the beans in the pods mature – unless cooked properly. People have been eating all parts of this plant for thousands of years! Learn more HERE.
What you have been told for years was only pretty is actually packed with great nutrition too:
“The leaves are more than 28% protein, 12% fiber, 7% minerals and 7% fat, eaten freshed or dried. They are an excellent source of iron and magnesium as well as a good source of phosphorus, zinc, copper, and thiamin. Beyond that, sprouts are edible and the cooked root is full of edible starch. You can even ferment the beans as with soy or make tofu.” — Eat The Weeds
Fast growing, and prolific, the vines will be swamped with purple blooms as the fruiting stage begins. But it’s not over in a flush. They continue blooming all summer, and unlike many bean varieties, their bright purple pods are extremely ornamental on their own. Your homeowner’s association will be none the wiser if you don’t pick the plants clean. There is a red-leaf version available too (pictured above), which transforms your hidden-in-plain-sight garden beans from pretty to outstandingly stunning. It is a perennial in zones 9-11.
2 Blauhilde Bean
While they will turn deep green after cooking, this color is sensational. Great tasting garden beans that are excellent picked young or up to 10 inches long. They also make a great shelling bean for drying with reportedly great flavor in soups and for refried beans.
Highly prolific, Blauhilde pole beans are compact at about 6 feet tall, but continue bearing from July through October… weather permitting. They do well in many climate zones, though gardener reviews from Texas do say they aren’t as good in summer heat as other pole bean varieties. Still, from Canada’s maritime regions to the humid eastern and hot prairie US states growers have great things to say about the performance of this variety.
In case you’re wondering, the dried beans are black, so your refried beans will be dark too. Perhaps as dark as black beans, because it’s the skin of the dried bean that determines the finished color of frijoles. They’re all the same color inside!
3 Red Swan
Excellent garden beans for growing in pots. These are a bush bean, which means they’re fast growing, and mature all at once. Your harvest is ready in just 60 days from seed, so it’s very doable to finish 2 complete crops in a single season outdoors – even in the north – if you start your first plants early indoors. A great tasting choice for anyone with a really compact urban garden, and pretty enough to enjoy watching food grow on the sunny balcony or patio.
Red Swan plants mature at just 10 inches wide and 15-20 inches tall, but don’t crowd them in your container garden too much. Remember you need sunshine to reach all four sides for the biggest possible harvest.
The pods are best picked while the inner beans are flat and immature. Don’t wait for the dusty rose pods to round out – this is a flat bean at the tender eating stage. It’s purely a snap bean that’s ready to pick at 4-6 inches long. If you leave them on the plant too long, they will develop a string, becoming too tough and fibrous for good eating quality. Enjoy them fresh, or quickly blanched and frozen for storage. Reportedly cans well.