Step forward, Nancy Drew. This has been my growing mini-mystery for 2016. One of these beans is not like the others…*
I swapped seeds for a packet of Inca pea beans from the HSL stand at Seedy Sunday. They are beautiful bi-colour beans, mostly with a clear line bisecting the bean along the middle. When I grew them they seemed to be half-runners, vining to about 4ft high with pink/lilac flowers and plain yellow pods when mature.
Then I noticed a couple of the plants were very different – full climbers with many white flowers and mottled pods. And the beans are jet black, sometimes with pale specks so the black pigment hasn’t totally overwhelmed the pea bean colouration. I haven’t grown anything there before, let alone beans, so I know they aren’t a remnant from a previous year’s crop.
I have no clue whether they’re a rogue or a cross. I am hoping for the latter – bean colour is apparently maternal, which is why it wouldn’t have been visible in the original beans I sowed. Their vigour might also mean it’s a cross. Either way they are going to be grown again and if they stabilise, I’ll have a new black-seeded climbing bean to name. I’m thinking Surbiton Sport…
To further confuddle me, I was sent another pack of Inca pea bean seeds, this time from the virtual seed parcel on the Grapevine. And these are different again, a dark reddy-brown bi-colour with the occasional spot or two (see pic left). The seeds are from 2014 which might explain why they are so dark.
So would the real Inca Pea Bean please stand up? Or could there be two strains? After a (lengthy) trawl of the internet I think there might be at least two – one that is the orca-like one that is in the VSP (above left) and comes in both red and black colours, and the one I have from HSL (right), which seems to be on some of the German bean saving sites.
*The beans in the photo at the top are L-R: Inca pea bean (F2 cross/rogue), HSL Inca pea bean, VSP Inca pea bean and, to add some more confusion/comparison, some fresh Monachelle di Trevio beans, which might (or might not) darken more with age.
Categories: Diary 2016