End of Season Review - Beans

This year I grew 3 bean varieties, a yellow Romano bean (Golden of Bacau), a fresh green bean (Contender) and a dried black bean (Cherokee Trail of Tears).  I have grown all of these beans in the past and loved them all.  I gave a detailed description of them HERE.

Cherokee Trail of Tears
Harvested as mature beans for drying
The big issue this year in the bean patch was the bacterial brown spot (BBS).  I first noticed it in early July on the Golden of Bacau beans.  This is the 2nd year in a row that this variety has developed bacterial brown spot so I’m thinking that the seed is likely infected.  Of course, the brown spot then spread to all of the other bean varieties.

Contender Bean with Bacterial Brown Spot
The harvest for all varieties was definitely reduced and many beans had to be thrown away.  I didn’t bother with succession sowings of the bush beans, as I only had space in the same bed & these would have become infected as well.  The fresh bean harvest was done by August 26.

 Prior Year Comparison


2012 was the first year of the vegetable garden & I didn’t get around to ordering seeds so I had to make due with whatever varieties I found at the local hardware/big box store.  Selection was minimal, of course, but one of the bright spots was that I found a great heirloom bush bean, Contender, which I have grown ever since.  I saved seed that first year and good thing too as 2012 was the only BBS-free year.


All of the other varieties I grew that year were dropped.

Kentucky Wonder did very well, in terms of productivity, but I found the beans too stringy and a bit tough unless I harvested them within a relatively tight window of opportunity.

Royal Burgundy was not very productive and many of the pods were small with a large number of “tadpoles”, especially towards the end of the season.  I did like the taste of this one so I grew it again in 2013, just to use up the remaining seeds.  For some reason, I didn’t tally the Contender & Royal Burgundy separately this year.
Scarlet Runner, which I originally grew because I thought it would look really pretty in the bean bed, was just a flop altogether with minimal flowering and no useable beans.


This was the year the neighborhood rabbit(s) found my vegetable garden.  I eventually put up a chicken wire fence around the vegetable beds, but not before the majority of my Contender & Royal Burgundy bush beans were chewed to bare stems.

I did one succession sowing after that but the plants didn’t do very well as I sowed them along the edge of the bed which turned out to be a big mistake - they really didn't appreciate being hit by my legs every time I walked by.  On top of that, they were also being shaded by the tomato plants.  There were other problems as well in the 2013 bean patch, all of which I talked about in “The Mighty Bean” post that I linked to at the top of this page.

2013 was also the first year that I grew both Trail of Tears & Golden of Bacau (and got the dreaded bacterial brown spot).  I harvested most of the Trail of Tears as snap beans & and they were delicious.  I liked them much better than the Kentucky Wonder from the year before.  But once I tasted the dried beans, I knew that Trail of Tears plantings in future years would be solely dedicated to dried bean production, especially as I already grew Contender as a fresh green bean.
Cherokee Trail of Tears
One interesting thing to note is that last year, BBS only spread to the beans in the same bed as the infected variety, namely Trail of Tears.  I grew Contender & Royal Burgundy in a different bed, only a few feet away, and they did not get infected.  The difference in harvest is obvious with last years non-infected Contender patch yielding twice as much as this years (per sq. foot), even with the munching rabbit issues.


When I reviewed the numbers, I was actually surprised to see that Golden of Bacau produced the largest yield of all the varieties, even though it was the originator of the bacterial brown spot.

Golden of Bacau

What also jumped out at me was the harvest period - last year’s Golden of Bacau harvest lasted for 2 weeks longer than this year and the yield was over twice as large per sq. foot.  I’m thinking our cool wet summer was the main factor here, since beans don’t appreciate cool, rainy weather and, to top it off, bacterial brown spot thrives in it.   I also changed the spacing of the pole beans (as I didn’t have that many seeds), using the 8” spacing recommended on the seed packet instead of the substantially closer 3” I used last year -  this may have reduced the total yield as well.

Overall Impressions & Plan for Next Year

All in all, I was satisfied with the overall bean harvest, especially considering that many beans were tossed and all of the varieties suffered a much earlier demise than they otherwise would have.   This was also not a bean friendly year, in terms of weather.

Thankfully, bacterial brown spot does not overwinter in our climate.  I do love the Golden of Bacau beans so I may look for another source.  Or I may try a variety called "Golden Gate", which are grown by Michelle and seem to be very similar.  Both Trail of Tears and Contender will be included in next year’s plan.  I am hoping to add another one or two dry bean varieties to the list as well.

The new trellising method I used this year was a success, so I will be using it again next year, but I will be going back to the closer 3" spacing for the pole beans.
Till next time…


  1. I love Golden Gate too. They were delicious and they seemed to be able to handle my bean diseases (rust is my prevalent one) better than Kentucky Wonder. Unlike you I don't find KW too tough and love the taste best of all, but it susceptibility to rust makes it problematic for me. Last year I didn't get much of a harvest from them.

    1. I have a feeling you are a much more diligent picker than I am! And now that you mention it, I do recall that the KW did get a bit of rust on them that first year. It wasn't too bad, though, and I still harvested quite a lot which is probably why I completely forgot about it.

  2. Amazing the productivity you get from growing vertical. Gold Marie is another heirloom yellow Romano, but can be hard to find. Got mine from Baker Creek. The blight is definitely seed borne. The advice I got was look for a supplier that sources their seeds from growers in the West where growing conditions are drier. You might also look for a supplier that states they test their bean seeds for blight. Johnny's does that.

    1. I didn't realize Johnny's tested their seed - that's very good to know. I do enjoy their catalog, but usually end up ordering my seeds elsewhere because of the shipping costs.

      I've added Gold Marie to my list. I'm definitely planning on ordering seeds from Baker Creek so adding that one in would be a no-brainer. Thanks for the great suggestions!

  3. Great recap of beans present and past. I am lucky to not have seen BBS or other bean diseases here. Bugs are a big problem though, esp. bean beetles. I've grown Contender many times but lately have been growing Derby as my bush green snap bean. I should give Contender another try as it always did well for me too. And let me say I am another David that loves Gold Marie! I'm not a fan of KW though, which proves that individual tastes and garden results are always variable. It was usually tough for me - even when I was living in Kentucky!

    1. Sometimes you just get lucky at the seed rack - I had never even heard of Contender when I picked them out. And that's so funny about your experience with Kentucky Wonder....in Kentucky!


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