Growing your own beans is a great way to save money. Growing your own also ensures you know exactly what you are eating, as you control what, if anything, you add to your plants or your soil. Learning how to buy bean seeds ensures you purchase beans of the appropriate variety based on your taste, growing space, and preferred seed type.
Consider How Much Available Growing Space You Have
Before buying bean seeds, determine how much growing space you can devote to your beans. If you have only a small amount of floor space, it is not practical to grow field beans or broad beans that require a lot of space, for example. For small growing spaces, you need to maximise your yield per plant and per unit of growing space. Consider growing pole beans, whether a runner bean type or a climbing French bean variety up a trellis or on a wigwam of bamboo canes. Alternatively, to really maximise your yield, adopt the 'three sisters' approach. This involves growing corn on slightly raised hillocks. Add trailing squash plants, such as patty pans, pumpkins, or Hubbard squash plants between the corn plants. Then, around the base of the corn, plant climbing bean plants. This is a great way of making the most of vertical growing space, maximising your yield, and getting multiple crops simultaneously.
Consider the Type of Beans You Want
You can choose from a huge selection of beans, but they fall into four main categories. Runner beans, such as Czar, Scarlet Emperor, and White Lady, produce high yields of large, long, flat green pods filled with large bean seeds. French climbing beans, such as Cosse Violette, Cherokee Trail of Tears, and Yellow Longneck, produce very high yields of moderately long, round bean pods filled with smaller bean seeds. Field beans grow on a single stem and do not climb. These types require more space than climbing varieties do but offer a longer growing season. Bush beans do not climb and produce high yields of short French-type beans but, like broad beans, require more ground space than climbers do.
Heirloom vs. Hybrid Bean Seeds
Heirloom seeds are those traditional seeds that are not crossed with other types. If you choose heirloom varieties, you can save your own seed for the next growing season, allowing you to save even more money. Hybrid bean seeds, usually labelled as F1 hybrids, are the result of one or more crossed varieties, usually selected for hardiness and disease resistance. However, you cannot save seed from hybrids, as the offspring are unstable, often do not produce fruit, or produce inedible fruit. So, if you want to save seed, choose a hardy heirloom variety.