Blue Lake Pole Beans have long been a culinary staple on the west coast, but are loved all over the world. The Blue Lake stringless pole bean is named for the lake district of Ukiah, California, but originally came from the upper Missouri River basin. It was here that it grew wild in the gardens of Native Americans. Since the middle of the 20th century, Blue Lake beans have been the standard of green beans. Despite humble canning bean origins, it is now considered a gourmet bean variety, surpassing even the Kentucky Wonder as a premier gourmet bean. Blue Lake 274 cultivars have specifically have put Blue Lakes on the map.
These beans grow great in any garden and possess distinct characteristics. They are a hardy plant and known to be prolific climbers with pods that will set from base to top of the plant. Blue Lake variety pole beans grow from 5.5 - 7 inches. One 100 foot row is reported to yield 150 pounds of mass and verdant green fruit. Unusually smooth, they possess a distinctly stronger flavor than the bush variety. One classic gardener's tip is to grow these legumes in the garden for nitrogen fixation. After the harvest, when beans are picked and stored, chop up this plant to work back in the soil for natural soil remediation.
Blue Lake pole beans have considerable significance in American cuisine and in fact, are a significant part of many traditional diets across the world. This is especially true in the Middle East, where beans are used in many main course dishes. Taking inspiration from different cultures, one could use beans in a variety of ways. Use Blue Lake Pole beans dried or in soups to spice a traditional recipe. Blue Lakes have a meaty and tender texture, and can accentuate any savory dish, but should not be used in baking or for sweet recipes. This is one recipe for preparing Blue Lake beans as a delicious side dish for fish or meat.
Lemon-Thyme Green Beans
- 2 pounds Blue Lake green beans
- 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
- 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon peel
- Boil beans in salted water until slightly crisp but tender, or for 4 to 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. It is very important to dry the beans for maximum flavor.
- In medium to high heat, melt butter in a skillet. Mix in beans, lemon peel, and thyme. Sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.
Pole Beans Around the World
Pole beans are a real staple in areas of Eastern Europe. In Ukraine, there are many traditional recipes that call for these nutritious and fast-growing crops! Pole beans are called lopatky in Zakarpattia, and are extremely popular in summer fare. From a cultural standpoint, the pole bean may be of even greater importance here as a bean pole is considered to be the equivalent of the American rolling pin as a symbol of domestic disagreements. Try this traditional Ukrainian recipe for an exotic take on a traditional American standard gourmet bean.
- 1 lb. pole beans strings and cut into 2-inch pieces
- 3-4 large cloves garlic peeled and finely chopped
- 3 tbsp. olive oil
- Boil beans for approximately 15 minutes or until tender. Drain beans and heat oil in large skillet.
- Add garlic to saute for 1 minute. Cook, stirring for 5 minutes more. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.
Sowing The Seed
Beans are not fond of being transplanted and are best established directly outdoors, when the weather is warm and all danger of frost has passed. If they are started indoors, the use of peat pots may be beneficial to prevent root shock when transplanting. Work through your sowing area to remove all unwanted plant life and weeds. Sow the seeds at a depth of 1” under topsoil. Provide a trellis or support.
Beans will require an area of full sunlight for the majority of the day. The plants will thrive in temperatures of at least 65F and require a soil that is fertile and rich in organic matter. You must also make sure that your sowing medium is well drained as well. Adding a light compost to any areas containing hard, compact soil will improve your overall drainage. Water the seeds daily until germination occurs.
Germination & Growth
Blue Lake Beans typically germinate within a good 7 to 21 days after sowing. The plants will reach a mature height of roughly 60 to 72 inches tall and can spread about 12 to 24 inches wide. They can be spaced roughly 12 inches apart from one another, in rows that are spaced 36 inches apart. Blue Lake Pole will produce excellent yields of thick, 6 inch pods that can be harvested in 60 to 65 days. The use of stakes or a support trellis is recommended for healthy growth.
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You may be interested in our article "What are Hybrids, GMO's & Heirlooms?"