Mixed Cornfield Bean
(Phaseolus vulgaris); Heirloom; a Michigan Connection variety; Pole bean; Dry bean; Minimum 20 seeds
Aahhh the humble cornfield bean mix - as implied, this variety is a delightful assortment of beans that dry to an inspiring array of patterns and hues. A Michigan seedsaver collected this fun variety in 1985 from his Jackson County neighbor, Mrs. Effie Neeley (1908-2000.) In the 1920s, shortly after their marriage, Effie and her husband moved from Magoffin County, Kentucky to Michigan carrying the beans with them. Effie's mother, Mrs. Suzanne (Wireman) Howard, advised her daughter that if she brought the beans with them and kept them alive, she'd always be able to feed her family. Prolific vines prove the advice well-founded, producing a diversity of pod types in abundance until first frost.
As a cornfield variety, the beans do well in partial shade and are well-suited as the bean component in the traditional practice of Three Sisters gardening. If the Three Sisters gardening method interests you but you have yet to give it a try, please see Dr. Jane Mt. Pleasant's Food Yield and Nutrient Analyses of the Three Sisters: A Haudenosaunee Cropping System for an informative and inspirational discussion on the benefits of the Three Sisters gardening method.
One caveat from experience - be sure the corn variety you use is strong enough to support the extra weight of the bean plants; one year I caused some strife as my beans pulled down Scott's precious corn (oops!)