Save Your Seeds: Beans

The ‘common bean’ Phaseolus vulgaris – phaseolus being Greek for bean and vulgaris Greek for common – covers both green beans (French beans) and dried beans such as pinto, navy, kidney and borlotti.


Although there are records of bean cultivation in Mexico in 4000 BCE, the plants seem to have originated from the temperate regions of South America. The Incas of Peru are thought to be the domesticators of beans.


Some beans are grown to be eaten green when the pods are tender (green beans or French beans) and others are eaten dried (kidney, navy). Green beans have either no parchment (inner skin) in their pods, or a very thin one, and the beans for drying usually have a thick parchment. Apart from the green beans being left to mature on the bush, the seed-saving techniques for both green and dried are very similar.