The common bean (Phaseolus vulgaris), is a popular garden vegetable in Minnesota, grown for snap beans, shell beans, or dry beans. Some varieties are suited for all three uses.
Snap beans, also called "green beans" or "string beans" (although most modern varieties do not have strings), are harvested when the pods contain immature seeds, and the pods are still succulent. They are usually cooked or pickled, although they are sometimes eaten raw. "Filet" beans are snap beans that must be picked before they are thicker than 1/4 inch. They are elegant, French-style vegetables, but require very frequent harvest, as beans picked even a day too late will be fibrous and tough, and yields are lower. "Romano" beans have broad, flat pods. Pods of all types may be green, yellow ("wax"), purple, or striped. Purple pigment disappears during cooking, and cooked purple beans will appear dark green.
Bean growth habits include pole beans, bush beans, and half-runners. Pole beans are twining vines growing up to six feet and sometimes taller that must be supported. Bush beans are upright plants that do not need support, growing about two feet tall. Halfrunner vines can benefit from some support, although they usually don't grow to more than three feet tall. Pole beans flower continuously, producing new pods all through the season. Bush beans have a more concentrated period of flowering and pod set, although they may continue to flower and produce pods as long as they are regularly harvested.
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