When it comes to easy growing and variety options nothing can match up with the bean. Stores like Whole Foods Market are starting to get into more varieties of heirloom dried beans. And why not. they are good for you. I find that when it comes for looking for bean seeds to plant you often find more selection in the bulk section than on the display of seed packets. When you buy dried beans in the store you are buying the seeds themselves. So certainly you can plant those dried beans in your garden. One type of bean I wanted to try was Cannellini beans also known as white kidney beans. These are one of my wife's favorite beans for soups.
Selecting Beans to Grow
One thing to be ware of when choosing to grow dried beans from the store is that the germination rate may not be as good as if you buy them from a seed company. These beans are not being stored and maintained for the purpose of growing. Also depending on your source they could have been sitting around for a while. That is why it's best to buy them from a store that sells them in bulk so that you are not buying them in a bag that has been sitting around for who knows how long. Also look for organically grown beans then you can grow them organically yourself.
Growing the Beans
I planted the beans in early June after there was no risk for frost in my area. Like I mentioned the germination rate wasn't the best, so I did plant some more seeds in a couple spots where plants did not come up. These beans have a bush habit of growing so you don't have to worry about staking them. About a month later they began to produce flowers. Two weeks after that the beans were ready to pick for green beans. I wanted to try them in their green form to see how they tasted and to encourage the plants to grow more beans.
Ready to Pick for Fresh Beans
Roughly 2 to 3 weeks after the beans were green they were ready to pick. How do you know they are ready? They turn yellow when the beans inside are ripe. You can also feel the pods. Do the beans inside feel plumb? If so they are ready even if the outside is still green. I do find they are easier to peel if the pods are yellow. You also have to watch you if they start to shrivel the beans inside will become too dry, which is good if you want dried beans but I grew them for fresh eating. I will probably end up with some dried which will be perfect to save for next year.
How to Cook Fresh Cannellini Beans?
Once you have them shelled, just place them into a saucepan cover with enough water to just cover. Slightly salt the water. Then bring them to a boil and cover and simmer until done. You can mix them with couscous, soup, use them in salads, or season them with with some garlic, pepper, and herbs and eat them as it. They are creamy and delicious with a much fresher taste than in their dried state.