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If you’ve been around here long, you know that I love to grow beautiful and unusual things. I also like for those things to serve a purpose like being a delicious food for my family to eat. Dragon Tongue Beans fit the bill exactly!
Dragon Tongue Beans – Beautiful and Delicious
When I first saw pictures of Dragon Tongue Beans on the internet, I was captivated. Even so, I drooled over them for several years before I made the leap and dedicated a garden space to them. Now I wish I had started growing them sooner!
One of the great things about Dragon Tongue beans is that they are such a versatile bean. They can be used much like a snap green bean. You can eat them fresh, freeze them, can them, dry them like leather britches, or even pickle them….. I’m looking at you dilly beans! You can also use them as shelled beans. Just let them dry on the vine and harvest at the end of the season.
Where to Get Them
When it comes to shopping, I like to support small family owned businesses when I can. It’s a bonus to me if they are local but not a must. When it comes to buying my heirloom garden seeds, my go to is Seeds for Generations which fits the family owned and local business aspects for us. You can buy your Dragon Tongue Beans from this awesome company by clicking here.
About Dragon Tongue Beans
Dragon Tongue Beans were originally cultivated in the Netherlands in the 18th century. Since then, they have been grown throughout Europe and the Americas. Each area has cultivated them to adapt to their climates and growing atmospheres. This has resulted in a beautiful, versatile, and hardy plant for us all to enjoy looking at and eating!
How to Grow Them
Dragon Tongue Beans grow much like any variety of bush beans which I’ve written in detail about here. You can sow the seeds anytime after the last risk of frost has passed and soil temperatures have reached 65°.
Dragon Tongue Beans mature in 60 days so in many areas, you can plant in succession for a continual harvest throughout the whole season. We like to plant this way so that we are harvesting and preserving in smaller batches. If we had a huge amount of beans coming in at one time, it would be hard to keep up with!
They like soil that is well draining, rich in organic matter, and a fairly neutral PH level (around 6.0-7.0). You can amend your soil with natural additives as needed. Dragon Tongue Beans also do well when mulched. Mulching helps to keep down weeds, reduce pests, hold moisture in the soil, and reduce risk of disease for the plants. Some good options for mulch include aged wood chips, old (but not moldy or seedy) hay or straw, and dead aged leaves.
When you sow the seeds, you will want to water lightly. Once the plants begin to set flowers, you’ll need to water moderately and then once harvesting, water heavily. Be sure to avoid over head watering because excess water on the foliage can cause disease in the plants. Watering at the base of plants is usually the best practice in the garden.
When to Harvest
Dragon Tongue Beans are truly a beauty to watch as they grow and mature. They start out as teeny tiny baby beans that are green and quickly start getting purple streaking. As they continue to mature, they go from a neon green background to yellow all while keeping their gorgeous purple striping.
The plants will heavily produce all of their fruits in the span of a couple of weeks. If your plan is to use them like a snap bean, you’ll want to harvest them when they are about 6″-7″ long. One of the great things about Dragon Tongue Beans is that they grow very large but stay tender and are stringless! This is a huge win win for me!
If you want to use them as a dry shell bean, you need to just leave them on the plant until they dry out and then harvest them. You will be able to store your dry beans for eating as well as save some of the seeds for the next year as these are an heirloom variety and will reproduce true to itself.
How to Preserve Them
As I mentioned earlier, since Dragon Tongue Beans are so versatile, there are multiple ways to preserve them for later enjoyment. My favorite method of bean preservation is canning. For our family of 10, it just makes sense to can large quantities of them to eat throughout the year. I have a step by step guide to canning beans that you can read here.
Another great way to preserve them is to freeze them. If you have plenty of freezer space, this may be the best option for you. I know some people just prefer the taste of frozen beans over canned beans. This mostly comes down to a personal and/or logistical choice.
A fun way to preserve beans and have a little history lesson at the same time is to make leather britches out of them. For a lesson on leather britches, check out this video from Patara at Appalachia’s Homestead:
Now, I saved this option for the last because it’s extra special! Dilly Beans! I’m a girl that happens to love pickled veggies and dragon tongue beans are no exception to that! I didn’t even know that you could pickle beans until a couple of years ago. I guess I had been hiding under a rock or something. I’m so glad I discovered them because this is seriously some good eating!
I will let you know that when cooked, these gorgeous beans will lose their color and look like a plain old green beans. I thought you should know so that you’re not expecting to line your pantry with jars full of yellow and purple beans only find out the color doesn’t last through the preservation process. That’s literally the only downside to these beans and that’s not really a big deal at all.
I will continue to explore and grow more beautiful and different heirloom vegetables in my garden because it just brings me so much joy to look at such beauty during the growing season. I hope that you are inspired to grow these beans and add more varieties to your own garden!
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