bean



Pods of the last harvest. Phaseolus vulgaris Prinsesse NGB18186 x Blauhilde F2

The best bean cross this year was no doubt the accidental cross between Prinsesse NGB18186 og Blauhilde. It is the F2 generation I have grown, and the seeds harvested is F3. It is confusing for most people. This years F3 seeds will grow the F3 plants next year, to produce the F4 generation of seeds. A little, but for understanding these photos, important detail is, that the seed surface consist of tissue from the mother plant, thus showing us F2 fénotypes. The inside of the seeds with the embryo is F3 tissue. Keep your mind clear, or just enjoy the photos 🙂


F2 generation with a wonderful diversity

Pod shape and colour show a great diversity in this F2 generation. In next generation even more diversity may show, as genes recombine. Some of the beans er quite long. Others are curved and charming, in a way usually selected against in breeding programs. Straight pods are preferred by consumers. As a gardener, I have to find out, if I really share this view on pod shape. I’ve read about german “posthörnchen”, strongly curved wax beans, reminding of old days posthorns.


F3 bean seeds, skin is F2 tissue

Each photo in the above mosaic show the seeds from a harvest event. In the first harvest are only seeds from the early maturing individuals. In following harvest events the same individuals probably also released pods. To me the first harvest is the most important, as cold climate is a limiting factor in beans in my garden.
A few seeds are very dark. One pod in the first harvest, and one in a later harvest. The same plant must have set more pods, with a different colour. This is all normal, as patterned beans tend to make an occasional “negative”.

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Lima bean Phaseolus lunatus Ganymede

Russ Crow from Illinois was kind enough to send me some beans, including two cultivars of lima beans.
He has an informative internet site:
www.abeancollectorswindow.com

This was my first time growing lima beans. It was hard to believe I could grow them up here in Denmark, when I read they prefer they heat of the southern USA. But I’m fond of testing new crops. I grew both cultivars in open ground (after a start indoor) and in greenhouse.

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Lima bean Phaseolus lunatus Purple Eye

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Lima bean in greenhouse (Purple Eye)

Both cultivars grew well in the greenhouse, though Purple Eye was considerably more productive than Ganymede.

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Lima bean in open ground (Purple Eye)

In open ground they grew no higher than bush beans.
Purple Eye produced four pods, Ganymede none.

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Open bean flower, ready for pollination

From Asturias in northern Spain, I got a nice tasty big white dry pole bean. But it’s a bit late, and for that reason not prolific in my garden. I’ve tried three varieties of this Asturian bean, none of them full-fill my wishes. Two of them I had sent directly from a gardener in Asturias. It’s the earliest varieties they have in Asturias.
The only way ahead is to breed my own pole bean of this type.

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Bean Fabada da Asturias

Fabada da Asturias was the first pole bean of this type that I tried in my garden. I got it from Gerhard Bohl, Germany. Since I had Andecha, which is also a pole bean, with even bigger white seeds, from Anselmo in Asturias.

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Bean Andecha

What cultivars should I cross them with? It should of course be an early bean, as the only thing I’m unhappy with is that they are late maturing.
An obvious choice could be an early bush bean, but I want a pole bean. Pole beans yield so much more than bush beans. In my garden, I can easily find poles to support the beans.
Therefore I will cross to early maturing pole beans that do well in my garden.

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Bean Carré de Caen

Pole bean Carré de Caen proved to do well in the wet summer last year. It grew, flourished and set lots of beans almost endlessly. It has some similarity to the Asturian beans, being white and delicious, but the beans are very small. This I will use for crossing.

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Bean Chabarowsk

Pole bean Chabarovsk grows really well in my garden, and is the first pole bean to ripen dry beans every year. It is a borlotto-type, but because of its earliness I will use it for crossing.

Normally beans self-pollinate before the flower opens. Therefore I have to pollinate before the flower opens. But when? I looked it up in Carop Deppes book “Breed Your Own Vegetable Varieties”. She is not sure, but suggest beans behave like peas in this matter. Mother-plant flower must be quite undeveloped and small. Father-plant flower opened naturally the same day.

Both stigma and stamens are tightly wrapped in a conch-like spiral of the lower petals, the keel. As long as the stigma and stamens are sitting inside the keel, it is impossible to cross them. The keel has to be removed. I ruined three flowers learning how to do it. The conch-like keel is visible in the second image from the top (Fabada da Asturias). In the top image the keel has been twisted out of the keel.
Of course it is even more difficult with the mother-plant’s flowers, because they must remain on the plant. I pulled accidentally the flower of the plant several times – that makes no good cross. But even that I learned.

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Bean flower stigmas hooked together

First the father-flower is prepared, since pollen is more robust than the stigma. Pollen is able to withstand a trip around the neighbourhood in bodily hairs on a bee! When both flowers are ready, there are several possibilities. Either the usual hand pollination, transferring the pollen directly from the stamens to the stigmas. In beans, usually self-pollinating, it’s possible use the pollen attached to the father-flower’s stigma. Stigmas ends in a spiral, so they readily hook together. I wonder if the pollen is released as the father-flower’s stigma dry out and wilt? Carol Deppe writes, that this hooking method is significantly more successful than the usual hand pollination. I played safe, used the stamens as brushes to paint a miniature of yellow on the stigma, before I hooked up the two stigmas.

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The pollinated bean flowers
A: Carré de Caen x Andecha
C: Andecha x Chabarowsk
F: Chabarowsk x Fabada da Asturias

To protect the stigma and style from drying out in the summer sun, I put masking tape around. Note that the tape adheres to the remnants of the petals, but don’t touch the sepals. The tape hopefully come off along with the petals when the pod grows lengthwise. If the tape is adhering to the sepals, the tender pods may break when growing. Another bit of masking tape is sitting on the pedicel so it does not fall off with the flower. It must indicate that this flower is crossed. Finally, I write a letter with a waterproof pen on the pedicel tape, and break of any older flowers in the same cluster, so they do not take the all energy resulting in the abortion of my cross.
Now I can just wait and pray, and hope to see the pod develop in a week or so. Nothing more to do before harvest.


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Froelisten2011
FrĂžsamlerne (Danish seed savers) exchange list 2011

Again this year the list is long and interesting: Danish Seed Savers exchange list

See eg. the exciting Caucasian Spinach (Hablitzia tamnoides), originating from the Caucasus, and with history of cultivation in Scandinavia, mostly in manor gardens.

In my garden I have a few frozen pots with seedlings of Caucasian Spinach, from the seeds I got last year from a seed savers. When spring comes, I’ll transplant them near a tree or shrub in the shade, where it may otherwise be difficult to grow vegetables.
On facebook, there is now a Group, Friends of Hablitzia tamnoides, the Caucasian Spinach

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The old Danish Prinsesse bean

Prinsesse bean is a classic on the exchange list. It’s live Danish heritage, preserved by a vegetarian family for generations. 100 years ago it was a well-known cultivar, mentioned in gardening books as the earliest bean to grow. Now used mostly as dry bean, and then it’s a lovely name!
It is also spelled with c: Princesse

Do I need to translate the name: Princess it is in queens English 🙂

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Broad Bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ Vicia faba

‘Crimson Flowered’ is a very old heirloom. Red more about it at Daughter of the Soil.

This season I have planted a single seed of the variety ‘Crimson Flowered’ into my breeding project for purple seeded fava. Crimson Flowered has iridiscent green seeds. I want to combine the beautiful red flower with the purple seeds of my breeding project. It’s up to the bumblebees to do the pollination, the are better at it than I.

Next year I expect a few plants with flowers of a muddy color. That will be the plants resulting from crosses between Crimson Flowered and my purple seeded material. I will be exited to see how many (if any) red flowers that will show in two years, and if any of them will have purple seeds?

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Roottrainer with dwarf selection of purple seeded fava bean. Each row contains 4 plants from one unique motherplant

This year I decided it was time to separate dwarf plant from tall plants. To have the dwarf plants flower before the tall plants, I decided to start them in a roottrainer. I never tried a roottrainer before, but it is supposedly supporting better root development. I thought that big seeds would favor a special treatment. Ordinary trays probably would retard the root growth. Only one seed out of 28 didn’t sprout.

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Dwarf selection of purple seeded fava bean. Each pot/box contains plants from a single motherplant.

Today I have transplanted to pots or boxes. Some plants are taller than others. Maybe the tall plants are tall because they were first to sprout, or maybe they are not dwarf, and thus shall not be allowed to set seeds or pollinate other plants. I will just wait and see how tall they grow. As long as I’m in doubt, I will remove any flowerbuds, and if they grow tall I can remove them completely.

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Fieldpea ‘Biskopens grĂ„ĂŠrt’

At the seed meeting there was a major seed exchange on the first evening (and during breaks the following days) I would like to introduce some of my new friends.

‘Biskopens grĂ„ĂŠrt’ is one of the rare solid purple seeded pea varieties. It is a greypea, the oldfashioned fieldpea being a stable food in northern Europe in very old times. Now with famine well at distance the deserve a revival. I hope a famous chef will take courage to dicover it and serve it in modern ways. We have saved a treasure of these old peas.
This particular greypea is a swedish heirloom, passed on by SESAM, the swedish seed savers.

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Russian heirloom ‘Goroh’

The pea ‘Goroh’ is an old russian heirloom from Kalmutskaya region in Russia. It has white flowers and rather small round green seeds, drying yellow. Originally from Dr. Tatiana Veronina (Moscow), via Seed Savers Exchange and a norwegian seed saver to Denmark. It can be eaten both as a snowpea and as a delicious and quickly boiling soup pea.

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Wax pole bean ‘Gold of Bacau’

This wax pole bean has long broad yellow pods, and is an early romano-type. It’s an heirloom from the Bacau in northern Romania, passing Seed Savers Exchange on its route to Denmark. It’s said to have a gorgous taste, I look forward to the season.

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Russian bush drybean ‘Bean 04-2006’

UPDATE february 2011 – I had a look in the original seedsamples, and noticed, that this and the following photo had been misplaced, now they show the correct cultivar.

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Russian bush drybean ‘Bean 05-2006’

These two russian heirlooms FrĂžsamlerne has got from Lothar Juffa in East Friesland, Germany. They originates from volga-german families, settled near Omsk in Sibiria. Zarina Katharina the Great called in a lot of german peasants to settle on land she gave them on the Volga river. Later Staling executed a lot of them and resettled the rest in Sibiria, where they have lived since.
Both are early and prolific drybeans, the latter a bit earlier and slightly taller. I’m about to develop a weakness for these Volga-german varieties, as I have only good experiences with them – they have stand the test of time and hardship.

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