The Walden Effect: Farming, simple living, permaculture, and invention.

Hidasa Shield Figure and Cherokee Trail of Tears beans

Bamboo bean polesTwo different types of pole beans are gradually stopping blooming in my garden now.  Both I got from Deni and Tom Peterson at a seed exchange this winter.  Both I've grown on bamboo "tipis", with the Hidasa Shield Figure Bean, from the Plains, further away from the mulberry trees that shade that part of the garden, which was a bad tomato blight spot last year. 

The Hidasa Shield Figure Beans are rather flat and wide, a light green, and sturdy.  The dried beans are white, with a brown "shield" which also has a white center in it.  According to the Petersons (at they were grown in Buffalo Bird Woman's Garden, and were selected to Slow Food's "Ark of Taste."  They grew really well and traveled onto a pea fence that was next to their poles.

Cherokee Trail of Tears bean flowerThe other type, with purple blooms, is the Cherokee Trail of Tears, that also has a purplish bean that turns green when cooked.  Or has the black seeds when dried.  This has been grown since the late 1830s.  It did well in partial shade, climbing on poles that slanted back toward the mulberry branches, so that I, too, had to climb up on a ladder to pick them!

The only drawback to these beans is their strings, with the Hidatsa bean pods being quite tough to break, while the Cherokee are almost stringless, with an infinitesimal string, almost as tender as a corn silk!

No bugs at all on these beans, compared to Blue Lake, I also grew.  Conventional "half-runners" had much more persistent strings, too.

To grow these beans is to touch history, in a  spiritual way.

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This post is part of our Urban Homesteading lunchtime series.  Read all of the entries:

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About us: Anna Hess and Mark Hamilton spent over a decade living self-sufficiently in the mountains of Virginia before moving north to start over from scratch in the foothills of Ohio. They've experimented with permaculture, no-till gardening, trailersteading, home-based microbusinesses and much more, writing about their adventures in both blogs and books.

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Hi Anna,

Are you growing these beans for dried/storage type beans or eat fresh from the garden (or freeze), Which type do you like best for either?

Thanks Alison

Comment by Alison Fri Oct 15 21:53:57 2010

My mom was growing these for green beans. That said, I personally think that Masai beans are the very best bean for green beans --- they're a French filet bean, so they stay small and sweet with no strings and barely any bean inside. They also are very good frozen.

I'm still figuring out the best dried beans to grow --- I'll keep you posted!

Comment by anna Sat Oct 16 07:23:32 2010

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