The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris) was most likely domesticated twice, once in the Andes around 8,00 years ago, and once in Central America around 7,500 years ago. Common beans were cultivated in throughout South and North America. The Spanish took them to Europe in the sixteenth century and they made their way to Africa and Asia and North America from there.
Saving seeds from common beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) is a lovely way to begin your seed saving journey. To save seeds that are true to type-these plants must be 10-20 feet away from all other varieties of Phaseolus vulgaris. You can harvest viable seeds from one plant. You need 12-15 plants for variety maintenance and you only need 20 plants or more for genetic preservation.
You can learn more about how to plant and save bean seeds here
Phaseolus vulgaris varieties are classified according to how they grow (bush, semi-vining/half-runner or vining/pole) and how they are eaten (fresh (snap or shelled) dry). The varieties described here can all be consumed as dry beans.
The varieties that are currently available for everyone who is willing to grow them for food and seeds from the KASSI Living Seed Commons are listed in alphabetical order below. The date indicates when it became available in North America.
- Hutterite: 1750. Bush Bean. Shell or dry bean. Greenish tan plum bean with a charcoal ring around the hilium cook into a creamy chowder in less than an hour. Brought from Austria by Hutterite Christians or it may be a Russian selection of the China Yellow Bean grown in North America since 1820s.
- Ireland Creek Annie: 1930s. Bush Bean. Shelling or dry bean. Mustard coloured beans. This English heirloom has been grown on Ireland Creek Farm, BC since the 1930s
- Jacob’s Cattle: Bush Bean. Snap and dry bean. maroon and white beans with a kidney shape. It is a Prince Edward Island legend.
- Magpie: Bush Bean. Snap or dry bean. Black and white seeds that grow in long thin green pods. Introduced by Sutton’s in 1909.
- Pencil Pod Wax: Bush Bean. Snap and dry bean. String-less yellow pods are 5-7″ long. Ideal for freezing or canning. Introduced in 1900
- Walcherse White: Bush Bean. Dry Bean. Dutch white kidney bean with outstanding flavour. Rare.
- Yellow Eye: Bush Bean. Dry. Beans are large and ivory coloured with a lovely mustard splotch radiating from the inner seam. Beans hold their shape when cooked or can be blended down into a rich and creamy base. 1860.