PHOTO: iStock/Thinkstock
April 13, 2017

Homegrown snap beans are a favorite of many hobby farmers. Whether they’re green, yellow or purple, they’re a hit with market customers, too. But smart gardeners are also willing to expand their veggie palette and grow something a bit more unusual. If you haven’t grown flat-podded Romano beans yet, make this the year you give them a try.

Types Of Romano Beans

Romano beans can be both climbing plants and bush-type plants, depending on the variety. I find the bush-type Romanos more appealing, simply because they don’t require trellising and they’re a cinch to grow and harvest.

How To Grow Bush Romano Beans

Like other snap beans, the seeds of Romano beans should be directly planted into the garden after the danger of frost has passed and the soil temperature reaches 60 degrees F. Seeds should be planted 2 to 4 inches apart in rows spaced 12 to 18 inches apart. Pre-soaking the seeds for a few hours prior to planting can speed germination, but be careful not to damage the seed coat when planting.

When To Harvest Romano Beans

Romano beans produce flat pods, filled with plump seeds. Both the pod and the seeds are edible. Most varieties are ready to harvest about 60 days after sowing the seeds. If you prefer to harvest Romanos as dry beans, simply allow the pods to fully dry on the plants, and then harvest them when the dried pods begin to crack open.

Varieties To Try

There are many varieties of bush Romano beans, but here are four favorites I won’t garden without:

  • Capitano Romano Beans: These yellow-podded beans are 4 to 5 inches long and 1/2 inch across. Their texture stays tender, even when the pods are mature. Each plant produces dozens of stringless pods with a classic bean flavor.
  • Romano Purport Romano Beans: Among the most beautiful beans I grow, this variety has lavender blossoms and dark-purple pods. The plants are vigorous growers and highly productive. Although the pods turn green when cooked, the raw purple pods are excellent in crudités. Plants are about 2 feet tall, and each one produces several handfuls of 5-inch-long beans.
  • Jumbo Romano Beans: The flat green pods of Jumbo are best picked between 6 and 7 inches long, and they remain stringless and tender long after that. Although I don’t get 100-percent germination from the seeds, each plant produces scores of pods, more than making up for the lower germination rate. When grown as a dry bean, Jumbo’s seeds are a pretty tan with dark-brown stripes.
  • Dragon Langerie/Dragon’s Tongue Romano Beans: These unique beans are real attention grabbers. The flat pods are creamy white with dark-purple streaks, and they retain their crisp texture even after cooking. The seeds inside are tan with dark-purple mottling, so if you choose to harvest the beans in a dry state, you’re in for a treat! The pods reach 6 inches in length, but their purple streaks disappear after cooking.

Problems With Romano Beans

Like other beans, Romano-types occasionally fall victim to leaf-munching Mexican bean beetles. To keep this pest at bay, encourage parasitic wasps to take up residence in your garden by surrounding your bean rows with flowering herbs and annuals, such as dill, sweet alyssum and cosmos. Bean plants can also be grown under floating row cover to protect the foliage from the beetles. Just be sure to remove the row cover when the plants come into flower to allow access to pollinators.

 


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