Back to Basics

The best of the best from the 2011 OG Test Gardens.

By Doug Hall

Photography by Christa Neu


musica pole beanPole Bean


Gardeners who find the bean harvest to be tedious, rejoice: It takes less time to fill a basket with this big flat-podded Romano bean than with little filet beans. Best of all, stringless ‘Musica’ has all the flavor you expect from a bean.

Seed Source: Renee’s Garden

Growing tip: Don Boekelheide, our test gardener in Charlotte, North Carolina, grows vining beans on tepees constructed of 7-foot poles, secured at the top with twine. He inoculates beans and other legumes with the symbiotic bacteria they need to begin fixing nitrogen on their own. “‘Inoculate’ sounds intimidating,” he says, “but all it means in this case is moistening the seed and shaking it in a bag of inoculant powder until coated. Plant immediately.” The bacteria capture nitrogen from the air and deposit it in nodules on the roots, where it nourishes the bean vines.