Appalachia Gardening

Let’s go to the Bean Patch – It’s a Magical Place

The magic of the bean patch

Walk to the bean patch with me-I think it’s a pretty special place to visit. There are two long rows filled with: Greasy, Glenwood Cut Short, Greasy, WNC Market, Red Striped Greasy, Greasy Long, and Kenneth Roper’s White Half Runner greenbeans.

Fragrant wild phlox in appalachia

You can enter the tunnel between the rows from the north end or the south end. At the north end you have to push aside a lovely group of phlox to clear your way.

bean flowers brightens the dark

Once you’re inside it’s dark shady. A place where you can pretend to hide from the sun, for a few minutes anyway.
The white to yellow bean blooms decorate the shade with pops of brightness.

Beans hang abundantly waiting to be picked by one of us. I’ve found greenbeans of any variety like to try to hide from you.

Shotgun shell

You never know what lies waiting to be discovered in the bean patch. Looks like someone has been shooting a shotgun nearby.

Buddy in the bean patch to keep me company

There’s critters to keep you company while you pick beans. Various bees, bugs, and the occasional terrapin find the bean patch an amicable place to hang out.

Bean vines reaching to hold hands

Sometimes the beans reach across the aisle to hold hands and you have to duck under them or force their friendship to end abruptly.

Bean vines will wrap around you too

And if you stand still with your head in the clouds for too long, the beans will try to hold onto you.

Growing sow true seed greenbeans

By the time you reach the end of picking the first row your bucket is overflowing with greenbean goodness.

Blueberry in appalachia

A blueberry bush ripe for the picking is waiting for you as you come out of the south end of the rows. Handy for a quick snack before you start to work up the greenbeans.

Thank you for going to the bean patch with me-I hope you enjoyed it!


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  • Reply
    August 7, 2015 at 5:25 am

    Oh Tipper, you have the bean patch of my beany dreams 🙂
    I planted 4 kinds of pole beans this year, and am just beginning to see flowers and adorable tiny beanlets on a few plants. Hoping for some good eating soon!

  • Reply
    b. Ruth
    August 6, 2015 at 10:42 pm

    Loved your post today. I love homegrown green beans…Maybe next year we will have more beans to talk about. However, the magical beans that Ken provided the seeds for us did wonderful all by themselves with no extra effort from us…
    We love Roma green beans, great flavor and light on the strings..a bush bean, similar to the store bought Allen’s Green beans. Also we have grown Kentucky wonders, climbers and not. White half-runners THE STRING BEAN OF THE SOUTH that is if you love to string beans, good flavor. I got spoilt on Blue Lakes..bush..a stringless bean that is straight as an arrow and great for pickling in a wide-mouth quart jars…yummm! Love them pickled…Turkey Craws a small green bean very good…Shelly’s that we shell and put with our green beans…adds more flavor…Many more that I can’t think of at this time…We’ve tried them at some time during or gardening lives…
    Tipper, loved the phlox…one of my very favorite electric pink flowers of summer.
    PS…Blueberries didn’t do to well around here…this year. Even our dependable Muddy Pond folks had a decline in their blueberries…What we had mostly fed the birds since we were not here to pick them…

  • Reply
    Ruth B
    August 6, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Really enjoyed the trip through your bean patch! Since I am not a gardener, I must rely on the supermarket, where beans have been $1.49 a pound. Last week’s sale price of 99 cents prompted me to buy a few more than usual. I know you enjoy the bounty of the land, and I have to admit to a bit of jealousy!

  • Reply
    Rev. RB
    August 6, 2015 at 3:40 pm

    Neat! Thanks for taking us to your magical place.
    I remember picking green beans and being cautioned not to step on a runner or everything growing from where you stepped out would die. Don’t know if that’s true or not, but it made us careful in the garden.
    When I was a kid, the magical place was in the corn patch in the back acreage, the sumac growth down over the bank and lilac bushes in the yard. We made paths all through them. You could really get lost in there.
    God bless.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I just clicked on Chris Smith’s
    name and it took me to Sow True
    Seed, founded by Carol Koury. Chris
    is one of several who believe and
    work at Sow True Seed.
    I’m glad we got local folks who
    stress GMO-free and open-pollinated seeds…Ken

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    Great walk Tipper, thanks for sharing! Just picked a mess earlier for supper tonight. We love fresh green beans, taters and cornbread any time!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    Your garden is beautiful. I never
    knew there were so many types of
    beans. I’ve planted Kentucky Wonders(bush bean), and Greasy Cut Shorts before. But me and my old friend sure looked silly on step ladders once, when I put Nantahala White Runners with Hickory Cane Corn. I won’t do that anymore! …Ken

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    August 6, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    I’ve never planted runner beans. I think I will try to plant some next year and train them on the fence around the perimeter of the garden. Is there any reason they have to climb? Can they not grow sideways? I’m looking for a sprint not a pole vault.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    August 6, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    How delightful was the trip through your green bean patch. I relived the days when I, too, went to the bean patch to pick beans, both from the “runner” kind and our commercially-grown “bush” beans that we had to bend over or scrounge along on the ground to pick a large load to take to the Georgia Farmer’s Market as one of our cash crops. But we had those “white half runners” and “cornfield” beans to can and provide for green beans all year long until next year’s crop came in. Thanks for the pictures, the description, the wonderful essence of the bean patch, productive and enticing, and awaiting delicious meals from the gardener’s hard work.
    I wish I could be at Vogel State Park on August 8 to hear Chatter and Chitter play and sing! Vogel is only about 4 miles where all the gardens and bean patches of my childhood grew near the peaceful Nottely River, in Choestoe, that Paradise on earth! Best wishes, Pressley girls!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 6, 2015 at 11:42 am

    You might not ought to go look at Bill Best’s heirloom seed site (the fella at Berea). It is officially called the ‘Mountain Sustainable Agriculture Center’. Unless I miss my guess, you would want to try some of all and he actually has a ‘bean medley’ that is just that. Dangerous ! But he has some great stories about his beans and tomatoes also that I expect you would enjoy.
    Not trying to tole you away from Sow True as you all have a great relationship. I could just tell that you would like his site for a variety of reasons; perhaps especially his ‘read me’ page where he uses the expression ‘don’t know beans’ Compared to him, I’m certainly guilty.

  • Reply
    Chris Smith
    August 6, 2015 at 10:38 am

    The beans are looking great!

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 9:46 am

    This has been a wonderful walk through the bean patch. I like that there are other plants who seem to enjoy the space. To be honest, I have never known that there were so many varieties of beans. I now wonder about the taste of each Yummy!

  • Reply
    Pamela Danner
    August 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Magical indeed. I love your photos with the beautiful colors and light and shadows and the cute little bug.

  • Reply
    Henry Horton
    August 6, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Oh what a delightful trip to da bean patch. So envious. Due to !!! no beans in ground here this year, but next year for sure. Gonna try the ones you have listed. Especially the greasies.

  • Reply
    August 6, 2015 at 9:30 am

    This is the first year I tried growing Trail of Tears and yard long beans in addition to my white half runners. I even built a trellis about 100 feet long for them to climb. And climb they did! They grew to the top and back down again, while blooming their hearts out with not a bean in sight. I asked a visitor from WV what happened. She said, “Honey, you planted them when the sign was in the bowels.” I’ve been meaning to ask Pap and Granny if they agree with her.

  • Reply
    Paula Rhodarmer
    August 6, 2015 at 9:06 am

    Tipper, I loved your awesome post about the bean patch!

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    August 6, 2015 at 9:05 am

    This year, I planted a double row of Ken Roper’s Nantahala half-runners. I used cane poles for climbers, and leaned them against wires strung between poles at both ends of the rows. The result is a covered tunnel.
    There’s enough of a slope to the cane poles that the beans tend to hang down under them, making it significantly easier to do the picking. And you can also go out in the middle of the day to pick and still be in the shade.
    I planted some heirloom pumpkin seeds provided by Christine Proctor. One of her Chambers Creek pumpkins decided it liked the shade, and grew a fine specimen right in the middle.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    August 6, 2015 at 9:04 am

    Ah me, nearly 3 weeks without rain finished off our beans. Yours look so good.
    I align my rows roughly north-south and my production is affected by the rows shading each other. I estimate I easily lose 30% and probably more. It probably wouldn’t be so bad but I just do get 6 hours of sun to start with so I have no margin.
    I found out this year that ‘half-runner’ means runners of ‘only’ 10 to 12 feet as opposed to ‘runners’ that go to 20 feet or more. A chronic problem I have is not enough – and not long enough – bean sticks. I really need some ‘quarter runners’; if there is such a thing, that only reach 6 to 8 feet.
    I can’t remember his name right off but a fella just east of Berea, KY grows heirloom beans. His URL is:
    He plants his runner beans in a circle around the base of a tall pole on top of which is mounted a bicycle rim. He runs strings down from the rim to the ground. Appears to work great but he picks the upper beans from the top of his tractor lift. If any of you all are curious,
    Hope you all have a blessed day.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, PhD
    August 6, 2015 at 8:19 am

    The only thing that makes me sad about this post is your beautiful blueberry show. Something bad happened to our blueberry bushes and we did not get any this year! We usually have a dozen quarts put away by now. Guess we will give up on them.
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Steve in tn
    August 6, 2015 at 8:04 am

    Wish my garden was that clean. And moist. I live in “purple hull pea” Tennessee but love and grow a few green beans. Only canned for me. Slow but sure.
    Nice trip to the garden.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    August 6, 2015 at 7:57 am

    Tipper–Mighty impressive, especially when my beans are basically made and done with. I prepared leather britches this year (using monofilament fishing line to string them) for the first time in ages, and I’ve got October beans drying on corn stalks now. However, I’ve got to suggest a correction. If Ken Roper’s Nantahala runner beans are white half runners I don’t want to encounter their pole bean cousins. Those things rival kudzu in rapidity of growth and I know for a fact they’ll run at least 14 feet high. Don has some on cane poles that length and the vine has turned to the side seeking additional support.
    Right now my garden is at its late summer ebb. Plenty of tomatoes but squash have largely petered out, as have cukes and zucchini. Still plenty of crowder peas but the deer have done work on them. I’m getting raspberries every other day but the blueberries have come and gone. Lots of cantaloupe right now and I wish I could give you some. I’ve got several candy roasters thanks to Blind Pig folks.
    It’s time to start thinking about fall crops and I’ve got the first kale in the ground with turnips, lettuce, mustard, and various brassicas yet to come.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    Mike McLain
    August 6, 2015 at 7:31 am

    White Half-Runners are our favorite! The blueberries look good, also. We have a few small wild blueberry bushes on our property, but not enough for anything but a small snack.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    August 6, 2015 at 7:23 am

    Thanks for the guided trip through the bean patch. Between the commentary and the pictures I got lost in the green bean patch for a moment there looking for the terrapin!

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