All the advice is to pick the pods asap so as to encourage further pod
development. How is this so given that the pods develop from their
flower, so therefore more flowers would have to develop in order for
Does early cropping encourage further flower growth, or does the plant
flower only once?
This is what happens in fact. In addition the beans are nicer when young so
pick them regularly and if you can't eat them all while fresh then give the
rest away, you will get more good beans yourself.
Different cultivars have different flowering patterns. The ones favoured by
commercial growers flower over a short period and most of the beans are
ready together. This is advantageous as such growers like to harvest all at
once, often using machinery.
Home growers are better off with a cultivar that flowers continuously over a
long period so there is a steady harvest of beans. It is a while since I
grew them but I think blue lake are in the latter category. The cultivar
that I grew last summer produced continuously for seven months.
Which is, in fact, the case for the "Blue Lake" round green beans.
I suppose they could be called "French" beans because they're round
green "zydeco" or snap-beans but I sure don't think of them as being in
the same league as "real" French fillet beans; "Delinel", say.
Blue Lake beans were developed for machine-processing by West
Coast (U.S.A.) food packers. They blossom and bear within a narrow time
frame in order to provide uniform, if mediocre, beans for the canning
industry. Blue Lake beans develop a thick, fleshy pod quickly but it
gets tough as the beans mature. Blue Lake beans endure close spacing and
high temperatures (back in the day, we picked'em for Del Monte in South
Florida in late fall, nearly winter) and are tough enough for machine
picking (going to be steam pressure canned, remember). Unfortunately,
Blue Lake beans are among those primitive hairy beans with mediocre,
generic "green" flavor; pods get tough long before they mature, and they
have far too short a harvest for home gardens.
Traditionally, round beans for the fresh foods markets were hand
picked and different varieties could be found in stores here in the
States. However, within the past ten-or-so years, machine-picked Blue
Lake beans have come to dominate fresh produce departments in
supermarkets in U.S.A. and the better-quality richer-flavored more
tender "snap beans" have disappeared from all but farmers' markets,
specialty markets, and home gardens and seeds for some of those have
become hard to find.
It's more than 20 years since I grew blue lakes so I had to look it up. It
is odd because now there seems to be climbing and bush varieties, some
photos look quite round and others flatish. Many suppliers and comentators
say they bear over a period of time. This mob:
say the original 'blue lake' has been bred quite a bit more since it was
It seems that there is more than one bean going around called by that name
so it may depend on which one Anthony has whether it flowers all at once or
over a period of time.
Well, it makes sense that development of the line would continue
because blue lake continues to be the most viable commercial variety and
there surely must be some interest from small growers and home
gardeners. However, I find it as reasonable that consumers' tastes have
changed as that the bean has changed, LOL! "Blue lake" may be, as the
1996 article describes, "mild, sweet, tender-crisp" but to this old
head, they still don't taste like beans ;-)
USDA zone 9b, peninsular Florida, U.S.A.
I've been having good luck with Maxibel, and Fin de Bagnols (French,
green, string beans) producing through the season. The last 2 years they
have produced for me from June to the beginning of November. I use the
bush variety of these, but I believe they come as pole beans as well.
"Fascism should more properly be called corporatism because it is the
It isn't a named variety (at least the vendor doesn't admit it is one). It
is sold by "Mrs Fothergills" and described as bush beans. I don't know if
they are international. You are not going to get seven months of production
unless your growing season between frosts is about nine months, you feed
them, and water and pick them regularly and keep them from baking in mid
LOL! Well, mine wore combat boots and I have a photo ;-)
Aha! An open-pollinated variety that is widely available in U.S.A.
Available early in the season, at least.... T&M, UK has them in its
online catalog but out of stock. Other online UK sources seem to be
reselling T&M seeds. As far as I can see, the variety is not offered in
the T&M, US online catalog but I did find them at this website in
USDA zone 9b, peninsular Florida, U.S.A.
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