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Black Coco Beans – An Heirloom Surprise

The Three Sisters garden is a Native American planting technique that consists of beans, corn and squash.  The corn is planted first, and when it reaches 2 feet tall, pole beans are planted around the corn.  The beans use the corn as a trellis to climb.  Then squash (usually pumpkins) are planted around the base of the corn and beans to provide shade so the sun won’t dry out the soil.  It’s been done for centuries… let’s see how I can screw it up.

The corn part went well.  It’s the beans that threw me for a loop.  See, I planned to grow Black Coco beans – a beautiful black bean heirloom that is wonderful in soups and such.  Trouble is, Black Coco is a bush bean.  Bush, meaning not a pole bean.  You probably caught that part.  I didn’t.  At least not until they were about 18″ tall and definitively not climbing the corn.  Oh well. So much for Three Sisters.  My garden was a Two Sisters of Very Different Heights garden.












Black Coco Bush Beans dwarfed by tall corn

Regardless of the oversight, the beans did produce












Fresh pods

Now it’s time to harvest.  Waiting until the pods are dry, we pick the beans when the pods rattle inside.












Dried pods that rattle when shaken

We take them into the house to dry a little more (to remove any humidity), then we crack open the pods to reveal the bean.  So beautiful!


Glossy Black Coco Beans stand out against the light-colored pod

When all the beans are harvested and shelled, we will put them in the freezer for a few days to kill off any microscopic bug or bug eggs that might be dwelling on site.  Then they will go in a glass jar in the pantry.

So as you can see, even though this experience had its setbacks, nature still provided positive results.  This is the joy of experimentation and, in large part, why we garden.

Hey gardenerds – Do you have a story about your garden mishaps this season?  Share it with us here.

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. cometmom

    I had a similar experience last year. I planted what I thought were pole beans and built a needlessly complex tower for them to grow on and they reached maybe a foot and stubbornly refused to budge. They must have been mislabeled. Since my garden is in the front, everyone kept asking what the towers were for. This year our surprise was a “volunteer” pumpkin growing among the summer squash. I have no idea where that came from but it is beautiful sugar pumpkin ripening nicely.

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