My crop of Flambo dry soup beans is a success! After doing well with and enjoying the tepary black beans last year, I was inspired to try another dry bean. The Flambo beans provide the variation of being in the white category, but decorated with abstract speckles of cranberry brown. The coloring reminds me of pinto ponies I have admired, but I’m not an experienced horse person, so nobody get offended if the patterns are not quite the same. ;-)
With the limited growing season for warm weather crops here in Idaho (technically averaging 105 days from June to mid September, but having the potential for frost in the early and late ends of that time period; plus, only being really warm for July and August), it can be discouraging to plant something that you have to wait all summer long for, just to have it die of frost right before it produces. For this reason, I look for varieties of garden plants that will be likely to produce for me in less than 90 days. The Flambo beans fit the criteria with their projected maturity in 75 days.
The beans have the advantage of being larger than the tepary beans, meaning that shelling them is more rewarding. They also seemed to produce more pods per plant, but this is not something I measured. It was just a sense. It could just be because the pods are larger and more colorful. If you are looking for plants to mix with your landscaping, this one would look good. The pods look like they might burst into some sort of ferris wheel light show. However, be aware that when the beans are ready, the whole plant just dies back. It is done when it is done, even if there are warm days remaining. It was very easy to pull, making clean up and checking for hidden pods simple.
My Flambo beans were just ready to harvest during the first week of September. Not all of them were completely dry, but some of the pods were popping, so I picked anything that looked close to dry. Since I put them in a shallow tray (the same trays I use for seedlings in the greenhouse), it was possible to spread them out some to make sure they kept drying if they needed it. I also went ahead and picked a few loose beans up off of the pavers surrounding the raised bed. They didn’t look like they had been there long, but I did keep them in a separate pile, lest they have gotten wet enough to start to rot.
Popping the dry beans out of the pods doesn’t need to be done right away, IF the pods are completely dry. They can be set aside for shelling when the rush of harvest is over and it might seem relaxing to finger some garden produce while it is raining or snowing outside. The best approach would be to separate any pods that are still soft or leathery from the others and lay them in a single layer until they are completely dry.
I did do a sprouting test to compare the more dry beans with those that seemed fat and mature, but still on the green side. The results have been inconclusive so far. Out of 12 bean, only one has sprouted. It was one of the dry ones. I have now decided to soak them all for a day, to see if any of the other sprout as well. These are an open pollinated bean, so harvest and seed saving happen conveniently at the same time, no extra steps needed.
This is actually one of the few crops that I think I could plant more of next year! One row was a good place to start for trying them out. Since the harvest is more limited to the end of the season and doesn’t require a lot of processing to keep, it has potential for being very time efficient.
I’ll have to report back on how cooking with them goes. I’m interested to see how much the darker sections affect the total color of any soup. I would prefer to have them stay light, but that’s just me and what I’m used to for the recipes that I use this type of bean for. Like the for this regular ham and bean soup favorite that I made for the first time with pumpkin, instead of mashed potatoes last year. Now, I can use another ingredient fresh from my garden!