Beans are a part of millions of daily diets, and have been cultivated for thousands of years, from pre-Columbian times to ancient Egypt to the present day. Although they are high in carbohydrates, they supply much-needed nutrients such as protein, amino acids and vitamins. This warm-weather crop can add a lot to your garden, not just with a delicious crop but some added vegetation that is low-maintenance. When you choose what bean seeds to plant, focus on ones you love to eat or are familiar with.
Green beans can grow as climbing vines (pole beans) or as a bush. Pole beans are an ideal way to grow green beans since it takes up less room, but will definitely need support such as a stake or trellis. After planting the capsule-shaped white seeds, the green beans are ready to pick in about 60 days. The great thing about green beans is that the more you harvest them, the more they produce. Green beans are a common vegetable, and can be served cold and raw in salads, prepared in casseroles, as a sauteed side dish or even pureed.
Named for Lima, Peru, the white to light green lima beans need warm soil to germinate (at least 70 degrees F). Like green beans, lima beans come as a pole variety and as a bush bean variety, and need moist conditions and frequent watering. Green lima beans are used in soups, raw in salads or as a saucy side dish. The beans can also be dried out and stored for long periods of time.
Garbanzo beans, otherwise known as chickpeas, come from India and take about two months. These small circular yellow beans are most commonly made into hummus or into hearty winter season soups. These beans grow as bushes and are resistant to insect infestations and disease.
Black-eyed peas, otherwise known as cowpeas, are true to their name as they are a light brown color with a black spot---the "eye." They are used mostly in Southern dishes. They need warm weather to thrive and are disease-resistant. Black-eyed peas take quite a while to mature---about three months. The ideal thing about black-eyed peas is that you can pick them fresh or just leave them on the plant until they dry out. Once they dry, you can store them for future use.