The Mysterious Bill Mathis Bean

| 6/24/2014 12:33:00 PM

Tags: Heritage Seeds, Seed Identification, Buy Local, Support Independent Farm Supply Stores, Grow Your Own, Renea Winchester,

City Life, Country GardenFriends, I need your help. I am obsessed with beans. I believe the obsession began about five years ago when I started helping my farmer friend, Billy Albertson. He tilled up a portion of his backyard so I could plant tomatoes, but once we saw the dirt, we decided there would be time to plant a couple rows of pintos, and then the tomatoes.

From that moment things have been getting out of hand; at least on my end. If you are a Facebook friend, you know that what started as two rows of pintos grew into a search for unusual beans. And for me, who grew up in western North Carolina, anything other than a white half runner bean falls into the “unusual” category. I have a particular fondness for October beans, but that is an aside that really doesn’t have a thing to do with the mystery I need your help with.

Most of you know that I avoid “big box” farm supply stores like the plague. I like my local folk; independent farm supply stores that have provided seeds and fertilizer, baby chicks, and animal wormer to my family for generations. I am fiercely devoted to the independent farm supply stores. Here’s why.

Inside stores such as these, you’ll find seeds named after the local farmer who brought them in. You’ll overhear someone whispering about Bill Mathis beans, and you’ll almost push that someone out of the way to get your hands on a sack of them. I didn’t actually push, but I did tap my foot and hope the person ahead of me didn’t buy them all.

I didn’t know what the beans were, didn’t really care. All I knew was if some farmer from the western North Carolina mountains was selling his bean seeds, then I needed to get my hands on a handful … pronto.

And while some may think I need therapy for this obsession (I do), I now have a bit of a mystery on my hands. Take a look at this.

Lisa Nurse
6/27/2014 1:08:22 AM

The pink one with black spots is a "Blomsterböna" Phaseolus coccineus. That's the only one I'm 100% sure of. What an interesting find!

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