Wild Perennial Bean Seeds are Back
Wild bean seeds are hard to find. This is partly to blame for the exploding nature of the seed pods during harvest as well as lack of interest in the gardening community. We grew our population of thicket beans over the course of a decade during which we experienced a great deal of trial and error. In 2017 we harvested 2 ounces.This year we harvested over a pound of seed. It turns out that once established the thicket bean produces copious amounts of beans. We also discovered wild bean is fruitful even in the first year.
Here is how to germinate the seeds: They have a hard seed coat and only a portion will germinate the first year if planted directly in the soil. To increase the germination, soften the sead coat try by using a 220 grit sandpaper and gently rub it on the seed. This will scar the seed and remove some of the shine. This will then make them imbibe water easily and then sprout. Soak your seed or put in a damp paper towel. You will slowly see some seeds swell. These are the ones to plant. The directions for tepary bean are identical to thicket bean. Once it puts down its deep root, it really takes off. Roots can go to 18 inches deep in one year and form a carrot type root.
Diseases of thicket bean include leaf rust which will defoliate and weaken the plant. Keep in check with biological insecticide Serenade which prevents its spread.
|Genus & Species||Phaseolus polystachios|
|Hardiness||-15F or more. Root hardiness not tested fully.|
|Height (ft)||15-30 ft.|
|Width (ft)||4-6 ft.|
|Pollination Requirements||Carpenter bees, hummingbirds, other solitary bees|
|Soil||Found as a river plain species but appears to grow in rock and sand with ease.|
|Climate||Zone 5-10. Adaptable and maybe even desert proof once established. Not good in high moisture locations in the summer.|
|Ease of Cultivation||Easy to grow and fruit. Avoid shade and other high moisture air conditions as it is susceptible to foliage diseases which cause premature leaf drop.|