Bean Planting Folklore from Appalachia

planting green beans

We love to grow Greasy Beans, also called Greasy Back Beans. When I was growing up Granny and Pap mostly grew White-Half Runners. In the last several years Granny has decided Cornfield beans are her favorite to grow.

Someone sent me some Turkey Craw Bean seed so I’m anxious to try them this year. And one of Granny’s friends said she grew Rattlesnake Beans for the first time last year and just loved them so Granny wants us to give them a try too.

In my latest video I shared some of the bean planting folklore I’ve gathered over the years and we got most of our beans planted with the accompaniment of Chitter’s fiddle 🙂

Here’s the bean planting folklore:

*When planting beans press the soil with boot for good luck. (We always do this one. I love to see The Deer Hunter’s boot prints on the rows we plant-I used to like to see Pap’s too)

*Plant beans in the middle of the day for a better yield.

*Beans planted on dark nights will grow the best crops.

*Plant beans early in the morning if you want to have the crop come in earlier in the season.

*Plant beans when the elm leaves are as big as a penny.

*Beans planted during a leap year will produce more than usual.

*Putting bean hulls in the path will make vines grow profusely.

*Plant beans in new ground, or under a tree, and there won’t be any bugs on the vines. (Not sure how they’d do under a tree, but we’ve planted in new ground with good luck)

*Beans planted on the full of the moon will begin bearing at the ground and bear all the way up.

*Plant beans on a full moon in April.

*If beans are planted on Good Friday, they will grow well.

*Plant cornfield beans from June first to the fourth Saturday in June.

*Beans should not be cultivated during the dog days, as the beans will all drop off.

*It is bad luck to give bean seed away.

I hope you enjoyed the video! I’m thinking this year’s bean patch will be the best we’ve ever had—how could it not be when the seeds were started with fiddle music 🙂

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  • Reply
    May 27, 2021 at 12:33 pm

    Are the Yonce beans called by another name? I am not able to find them on the web. I would be interested in planting some.

    • Reply
      May 28, 2021 at 7:07 pm

      Anthony-According to our friend’s uncle they were also called Young Prince. I’ve never been able to find them for sale. I’m hoping Sow True Seed will try to propagate the seed and sale it.

  • Reply
    Bill Fleming
    May 4, 2021 at 1:09 pm

    Wheb I was growing up there wasn’t no other bean except the white half runner as far as my family was concerned. They were easy to raise, they dried good and would bear well. We used to set bushels out beside the road and put a sign that said FREE BEANS and don’t you know some people would want us to deliver them to them. It got to where my dad would put up the same sign and when folks would stop to ask about them my dad would say. “They are still on the vines. If you want them help yourself.” a fair number of people take them.. would drive off saying well, if you would pick them ad bring them to me, I’ll take them. Daddy would say if you want them you know where they are Of course if the folks were too old or too bad off to pick them then we would pick them and take them to them.

  • Reply
    harry adams
    May 4, 2021 at 12:50 pm

    After an uncle built a cabin in Burnsville, we were introduced to greasy beans. We planted some one year but went back to blue lake pole beans. Blue lake have no strings to strip. Snap each end off and break into pieces. Blue lake seeds were hard to find this year so we are planting the few left from last year and the seeds we saved. I think we are eating 2018 beans now so we really don’t need many canned.
    Growing up, everyone planted Kentucky Wonder. These are the worst for strings. I planted a row of these one year and not many were even harvested.

    I would have liked a close up of your row and the seeds. I think you pulled a furrow and then planted in groups but couldn’t tell. Packing the seed in with boot or hoe helps to eliminate air pockets around the seed.

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    May 4, 2021 at 12:39 pm

    Daddy taught us to cover seeds with our feet–sweeping with first one foot and then the other while astride the row. It takes care not to cover some too deep but it sure is easier and quicker than with the hoe.

    I remember seeing Mama’s hand print on the squash hills. She sure did love her gardens.

  • Reply
    William Flack
    May 3, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Will these rows have the cattle panel arches over them? Were these the greasy backs?
    What kind of bet did Katie win so that all she had to do is play the fiddle while y’all were working?

    • Reply
      May 4, 2021 at 9:07 am

      William-they won’t have arches over them although the beans will likely make an arch themselves as they grow beyond the panels. You can get Greasy Back Beans from Sow True Seed and I’m sure other places. 🙂 Katie did some work too but it was might fine to hear her playing for the bean planting.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2021 at 1:47 pm

    Greasy back beans are our favorite. They are delicious. This yr we planted a renter green/ bush bean. Their good to. We have had them before. My beans are fixing to poke out of the ground. My cucumbers looks good. Hadn’t loss any, so that’s good. Tomatoes are good to.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    May 3, 2021 at 1:26 pm

    I don’t step on my bean hills. First I drop the row of beans then I come back with the hoe and drag dirt across the hills. I use the flat of my hoe and give it a good thump. I learned that as a kid and that would be a hard habit to break.
    That hoe that Matt is using would kill my back. I use a little hoe that’s not much bigger than my hand. It used to be bigger but has worn down. It never was as big as Matt’s.

  • Reply
    Gayle Larson
    May 3, 2021 at 11:45 am

    I am sure those beans will wiggle themselves right out of the ground after hearing that fiddle music. Good job.

  • Reply
    May 3, 2021 at 10:20 am

    Green beans are my favorite vegetable. Mother canned many, many quarts of green beans which the family enjoyed all winter and into the next growing season. My oldest son wanted to record her canning green beans, his favorite too, so he video tapped her through the whole process. She would be 105 this July, we know we will see her again, but we also treasure this tape of Graandmother canning her green beans.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    May 3, 2021 at 9:50 am

    Of all the folklore on beans the only one I’m sure I heard of is planting beans on Good Friday. My wife’s Grandmother always planted on Good Friday and had good bean crops.
    An old friend who is long gone told me about his bean crop. He worked for the government during the depression spraying peoples gardens so naturally he kept his beans sprayed. One summer he was planting his beans when a neighbor came by and asked him if he was planting by the signs. He told him he wasn’t planting by the signs he was planting in the ground. The neighbor told him he would have a flower garden with no beans. My friend said he had an awful pretty flower garden and almost no beans.

  • Reply
    Bob Dalsemer
    May 3, 2021 at 9:30 am

    Hope you don’t have any “Little Burnt Potatoes” !

  • Reply
    May 3, 2021 at 9:18 am

    When I try new bean seeds, I always go back to white half runners. The bean seeds I planted this year were found in a half gallon jar in Mom’s freezer after her death with a 1989 date written on a scrap piece of paper. Several years ago I bought white half runner seeds at Southern States that did not taste or grow the same as the ones I was used to. I found out they were GMO bred in a lab. That makes a big difference in the taste. It’s a good thing I didn’t plant my beans on Good Friday. They would have been frozen several times, snowed on, flooded and damaged by hail. I step on the covered seeds to make good soil to seed contact.

  • Reply
    Catherine Spence
    May 3, 2021 at 9:13 am

    If giving bean seeds away is bad luck, then I’m in trouble: all the seeds I have this year were given to me! One of my relatives gave me some seeds from the beans that my great-aunt Loutie used to plant; Aunt Loutie called them “Texie beans” because she got them from her neighbor, Texie Lambert. My relative also gave me seeds for corn beans and one other type whose name I forget at the moment.

    I tried Turkey Craws one year and they didn’t do well for me. It might have been our soil – we have red clay and rocks. I keep picking rocks out and every time we have a hard rain, seems like more come to the surface like earthworms!

  • Reply
    Margie G is full of beans
    May 3, 2021 at 8:50 am

    Yours is the only bean planting video I’ve ever watched and I enjoyed learning more than I know about planting beans so thank you so much!!! Chatter is a great encourager with the fiddle music!!! I’d say she was charming those beans to grow like crazy. I bet it works! You all bring joy to my soul and I thank you for that!!!! May your beans grow like never before!!!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    May 3, 2021 at 8:27 am

    There are good reasons behind at least some of that folklore. But out of time as we are we can miss how that is. For instance, no bugs in new ground could well be because the bugs in question have not ‘found’ the new patch and/or had time to build up there. Not easily understood though unless one appreciates what ‘new ground’ meant. Same with stepping on the seed. Soil needs firmed around seed and plants to avoid air pockets which are too big to hold water. (One of the major reasons to break up clods also.)

    Some time ago in an online search for “cornfield bean” I reached a page for Turkey Craw bean which said it was a ‘real’ cornfield bean, meaning a short ~6 foot runner I suppose. There was also the story that its name came from its being found by a hunter in the craw of a turkey he had killed. I hope you tell us how it does for you because I am still looking for a shorter runner bean. I switched from White Half-Runner to Rattlesnake to get shorter runners and it did help but Rattlesnake runners still reach up to about 10 feet. I do think you all will like them.

    It seems to me that everything has bloomed especially well this year. The oaks were so heavy here they looked like they had leafed out when it was all bloom.

  • Reply
    Wanda Robertson
    May 3, 2021 at 8:11 am

    We have been planting rattlesnake beans for several years and they are their favorite. Love all the folklore! Mama planted two rows and stuck them meeting in the middle, so we had a green tent to play under on hot summer days.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    May 3, 2021 at 7:31 am

    I think the reason there is so much lore about the planting of green beans is because it was such a staple for eating all winter. My Granny always had more canned green beans in her cellar than anything else. I’ve also eaten green beans that were preserved in the freezer but they just don’t taste as good as the canned ones, the freezer ones just don’t hold up as well as the canned ones.
    I saw part of your bean planting and I have to say, it’s fun to watch you all working together to get the job done. Chitter playing the fiddle and accompanying comments makes for passing the work time more quickly.
    Families working together like you all do is a beautiful thing to see!

    • Reply
      Sherry Dobbs
      May 3, 2021 at 3:39 pm

      Has anyone heard of Peanut Beans?

      • Reply
        May 3, 2021 at 6:59 pm

        Sherry-I really like peanut beans 🙂

  • Reply
    Sheryl A Paul
    May 3, 2021 at 7:04 am

    Turkey Craw beand are my favorite!

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