I am planning to plant sweet corn for the first time this year. Bought a JD 7000 4 bottom planter yesterday.
With a few minor modifications, it’s my understanding these planters can also be used to plant edible (green) beans.
I am thinking about also planting some Upick green beans for sale, but I’ve never really heard or seen anyone selling Upick green beans around here and have really no idea if there would be much interest.
I know there are a lot of gardeners on the forum who obviously wouldn’t be interested in you pick green beans, but I’d like to ask if you think the general public might be interested in something like that?
(Sorry about my prior post- like a fool I posted before I read your all your question!)
There are some places here that actually do that. I’ve seen 2 types. One is basically just like an orchard: they let you go in and pick and then they weigh your beans and charge by the pound (sorry, don’t know how much). They also usually have laborers who pick all day on a per pound basis, and then the seller sells those as “pre-picked” at a higher rate at the little stand/office beside the field. Same way the strawberry patches operate here.
The second thing I see around here is a little different. There are actually a few commercial bean growers that grow for canneries. But apparently their picking machinery is somewhat lacking, because after they have ran the pickers, they charge a flat rate to let people go in and pick what’s left. I know one of them was $10 per person…and you can pretty much pick all you want for that price. I don’t know how hard it is to find beans after they’ve been mechanically picked, though. My mom has done this a few times, but am not a fan because I hate the commercial type beans they grow. I guess they are “french style” but they are almost all hull and not very good at that.
Sounds like a unique idea, I’ve never heard of a PYO for beans. You could string them up on a trellis of some type, like they do with fruits like black or raspberries, but I don’t know if that’d be too appealing to folks. Maybe the appeal of PYO is getting some samples of fruit while you pick, but that doesn’t sound too appealing with beans.
I think they would, Olpea. They’re fun for kids to pick. My kids used to love going out and picking our green beans. If you can advertise that you’ve got green beans and they’r efun for kids to pick, you may get some families coming in to pick them with their kiddos.
When I think u-pick – I think of people bringing their families – i.e. lots of kids eating as many (or more ) of whatever produce they’ve picked as they put in the basket. I’m having a hard time picturing the appeal for families if it isn’t some type of fruit. I will say that I’d probably take my kids – but I’m different. People also like to take pictures of their kids picking stuff and getting all messy. If you want to try this – I’d suggest bush beans, because you could lay out the place just like a strawberry u-pick. However I could imagine some appeal to some architecturally interesting trellis work covered with pole/runner beans as nice background for pictures.
Not many people would pick bush beans twice since they are back breakers. The problem is people like sugar more so than healthy. Strawberries or kiwi might be a better choice if you have the water. Pole beans are appealing to a small group of people that still cook. Flavor is excellent and pole beans are easy to pick. Think you better draw them in with a slogan or sign “home of guiness world record heaviest peach” and foot long beans ( preferably purple). Pumpkins and Indian corn is where I think the money would be in the fall. Cider , sorghum , honey, home made ice cream, pie , coffee, apple butter, tomatoes, watermelons, preserves, dried fruit etc.
I think some unusual type of beans may work. The regular green beans are sold in season for 99 cents, I would not go to pick up those. But a different type of beans: yellow, striped, purple, flat, will be an attraction. If I come to the farm for peaches and there will be also u-pick beans, I would also get them. However I would not do this special trip for the beans only. Also beans need to be picked on the regular basis. This will be the extra work for you.
I believe you are correct about the planter being able to convert to green beans. My brother works on a large crop farm and right now he is getting the planters ready for corn, then I think they switch some parts out and plant Roma II green beans and sell them to Allen canning
Good timing, as I just saw this video a day ago. The first part is related to the struggles he’s had growing beans in Hawaii (which is still pretty interesting), but around the 6:00 mark, he talks about his favorite type of beans, Fortex. I think I saw someone in GF also mention that as their favorite, so it sounds like it is worth a try.
This year I’ll be trying some interesting ones, called yard-longs thanks to @thepodpiper.
Chinese Red Noodle yard long bean, from Googe Image:
I gotta imagine that those would stand out. I’m not sure how widespread the demand would be- you may need a larger ethnic population for them.
In terms of PYO veggies, I know there is at least one place around me doing that. From how much they have planted, most of their business must be in tomatoes, with a bit of eggplants, squash, and peppers. I don’t recall if they have beans. I stopped going when they gave up on PYO raspberries- it got very overgrown, but they would have probably had issues with SWD if they had made it a few more years.
I’ve thought before it would be a fun niche to offer pick your own vegetables. Whether the general public would agree, I don’t know, but when you think of all the interest in farmer’s markets and u-pick in general I think it would be worth a try! I honestly think tomatoes would be a better choice because they ripen even if picked a little green (and can be used totally green if one likes them fried!) and if in cages or trellised, the pickers should not do much damage to the vines. Generally my feeling with beans is that they are pretty fragile, if you are talking bush beans. Even pole beans aren’t too strong if someone yanks on them they can tear off a good portion of vine or break the stem at the base with careless feet. I’ve picked beans for years and can still end up breaking a vine if I don’t concentrate.
That said – IF you have respectful pickers I think it’s always worth a try. If you try the beans – you might choose to aim for the adult population rather than kids – like offering old favorite varieties like Blue Lake (bush or pole) or Kentucky Wonder (pole) (my favorite is Kentucky Blue, a cross of the two) and throw in some gourmet like Romano/italian or slim/filet beans. I’m sure there are old-timers and old-timers at heart who would love to can or cook up a “mess” of good beans but don’t currently garden. If bush beans, varieties that say the beans are held at the top of the bush ought to be a lot easier to pick (Calima and Mascotte come to mind though I haven’t grown either personally.). Cowpeas/black eyed peas could be popular too and the plants are a little more durable than bush beans – more sprawling but the pods are pretty clearly seen when ready (some instruction may be needed to the pickers on what is a filled out pod and what isn’t!).
For variety and kids, there are always the purple, yellow, and marbled varieties (Rattlesnake is pole). They taste just fine and the purple turn green when cooked.
Of course, if you are offering other things as you-pick and the beans are just an add-on the fragility of the vines might not be too big an issue. Just wondering if they’d be very profitable on their own.
I would just start with a small area of beans in unusual varieties. Then, if they prove popular, plant more the next year. The fragility also came to my mind when I read your post. I like the teepee idea. Play up the beans with some ads and signs. Give the bean area a special name, like The Beanery or Bean Acres, so you can suggest to people they check it out when they come for fruit. Also show the younger ones how to pick them without yanking on the plants. Play it up as a special demo or free lesson. Try a few yellow wax beans, too. Easier to see and pick. The first time we served a mixture of yellow and green beans to the grandkids, their eyes went open wide and one said, “There’s something the matter with some of those beans!” having never seen yellow beans before.
As Bob mentioned, I have grown Fortex and it is a great producer of long beans. My favorite bean to grow. Purple King is productive and a pretty plant, Out of the yellows Monte Gusto produced the most for me. There are a lot, and I mean a lot of different beans. I’m sure many good ones out there. What I mentioned are all pole beans. Those yard long beans, many types exist, I tried
Mosaic Yard long Bean, and Chinese Red Noodle yard long bean. I have not been able to get them to produce well. If Podpiper grew them and had good luck, it’s him, did you see that picture the first time he grew watermelons? He had a mountain of them! That guy is good! He can grow anything, probably rocks in his yard get bigger!
From my phone. Thanks so much for all the good comments. I hardly think there is a post I’ve read I haven’t learned something.
Just for clarification, if I plant beans, I plan on planting bush beans. I simply don’t have the labor for pole beans.
From a commercial perspective, I’m looking at something we can plant mechanically, and spray as necessary (in order to avoid something not chewed up by insects ) at the same time something which might interest suburban folks. I can put different varieties in the hoppers, but I’m probably limited to varieties I could count on one hand (seriously, I only have 4 hoppers ).
I also think bush beans picking marketed to kids is a great idea. I don’t think I would go to a PYO bean place if I didn’t have kids. But since I have kids I would definitely go pick beans! Kids love that and as parents we always want to show them where the food come from. Whole Foods ad board is a great place to advertise these kind of activities. You can also give out fliers at local daycare centers. I do think your main target group is kids and you should advertise to parents with young children. As far as varieties go, bush bean Calima was a great producer for me.
We got a four row ford corn planter when I was a kid. It sure was an improvement over the two row, it even put fertilizer down the row. We didn’t farm that many acres, if you get a few things fixed on that it should last you a long time.