Drew’s Dandy Delivers!

by | Jul 5, 2023

In a previous article I described the characteristics of an early prairie bush bean called Drew’s Dandy and its value for dry beans (see http://heritagepotato.ca/heritage-beans/drews-dandy/  on this website). Drew’s Dandy is a common bean, Phaesolus vulgaris. This variety is also grown as a snap bean.  This year, 2023, I sowed it on May 2, closely spaced between another early bush bean, Aura, and a pole bean from Himchal Pradesh in India. I soaked the seeds for 24 hours indoors and then covered the sowed seeds in 6 mil plastic sheet for about 10 days.

Figure 1. Drew’s Dandy bush bean with white flowers nestled at centre between Aura (Poland) bush and Himchal Pradesh (India) pole beans. Photo Saanich Peninsula, June 28,2023 Richard Hebda.

By May 13 germination of these 2022 harvest seeds was nearly 100%.  May and June have been relatively warm and dry months, though night-time temperatures approached freezing several times in my trial field (Figure 2). Nevertheless, growth was steady with flowers appearing by about June 10.

Figure 2. Mean daily temperatures (solid line) and daily range (blue shade) (Heggs Station) early May to late June 2023 in field next to bean trial beds in Saanich, BC. Note record high temperature (31.9C) in early May and exceptional low temperature of 2.6C in mid June. Mean Daily Temperature about 14C except in early May when it was about 10C.
Figure 2. Flowers and tiny pods (to right and below flowers) of Drew’s Dandy on top of bushes. Photo Saanich Peninsula, June 28,2023 Richard Hebda. 2023.

The first tiny pods showed by June 20 atop stems that emerged from the leafy canopy (Figure 2). On June 26, I could not believe my eyes when I looked inside the bushes where many flowers are produced to discover fully formed flat green pods (Figure 3). Young pods are stringless, 15cm (6”) long, 1.5 cm (0.6”) wide and 0.5cm (0.4”) thick.  Many of these were full-length (Figure 4). They tasted delicious and sweet when eaten fresh and green. We steamed them and enjoyed our first cooked snaps on June 28th, 3-4 weeks earlier than ever in the thirty years I have been gardening on the Saanich Peninsula. From a cool early May sowing to harvest time required to produce full size snap beans was 56 days. These were mostly not high heat summer days, but spring days with some very low night temperatures.

Figure 3. Fully formed pods deep under the canopy of Drew’s Dandy bean June 27,2023. Photo Saanich Peninsula, June 28,2023 Richard Hebda.

Drew’s Dandy has the potential to be a specialty early green bean on the coast and deserves to be grown widely in Canada to start the snap bean harvest season in our gardens.