Snap to It! Picking out the Perfect Snap Bean


“I would like a good snap bean. Tender, snaps nice, cooks up tender. I have used Blue Lake Bush 274, I want one with more snap. I want to use these for selling and eating fresh.
Thank you,
George Voelker
Mansfield, PA”

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Dear George,

Thanks for contacting me. I grew up eating a LOT of Blue Lake Bush 274 beans — they are they only variety of green bean my mom would ever grow. Still grows only them.

However, when I got out of college and grad school and finally had a plot to call my own, I did a lot of bean varitey testing. Of course, at the time, it was a part of my job. Blue Lake Bush 274 and Provider were my ‘controls’ that they other new varieties were compared to.

There were two varieties that I really liked — to the point that they are now the only ones I grow!

1. Duke.

This is a bean that is now offered exclusively by J.W. Jung Seed and it’s subsidiaries (Vermont Bean Seed Company, R. H. Shumway’s). It was originally bred for commercial growers, but somehow did not make the cut. So, us home market folks now get to grow it. It is loaded with TONS of beans and they stay snappy for a long time. Good flavor, good for canning and freezing too. Only downside is that this variety does not come back well if stressed or if the pods are not picked on time. I had this issue in my garden this summer — I was away from home for a week (in Nevada for a family function) during the time when the first picking would have happened. My husband was left at home, alone, for the week to work and to keep up the garden. Yeah… he isn’t much for gardening. The row of beans that I would have picked in an hour or so was picked over the course of the week. And when I came home, I found that most of the beans were still on the plants (green on green was not too good for him). I picked things off and took care of them, but never got another pod off them.  I am not sure if this is a Duke issue or if any bean would have shut down after that kind of neglect. Either way, about 3 weeks after, the grasshoppers that ravaged the area decided to make use of the plants for dinner. However, I will be putting Duke in my garden next year.

2. My other favorite is Molly, a French Filet type.

These plants may be small and their pods are too, but do they ever pack on the pods! We are talking an amount of pods that makes the plants look like they have green dread locks! The flavor is full bodied and deliciously beany. Good for fresh, canning, and freezing. Didn’t do well this year between some germination issues and the wonderful grasshoppers, but will be in the garden again in 2014. Only place I know of to get them is Chiltern Seeds, D.T. Browns, and Botanical Interests (sold generically as “French Filet”, so check with the company first to make sure they haven’t switched varieties).

I hope this information helps you out, and again, thanks for asking!

(You can see George’s question here.)

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© Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk!, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Mertie Mae Botanics LLC and Horticulture Talk! with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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