Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Early Riser or Kwintus Beans

These, my friends, are beans. Eight to 10 inch long, flat, Romano style beans. According to our preference, they are a pole bean, but they are ready in as few as 55 days; or about the same time as most early bush beans. I would say they beat Blue Lake this year by about 10 days. They can be expected to last all season too, unlike most bush beans. So far, they have been churning them out pretty steadily, although after a month it looks like they might take a little break. They'll be back though; there are new flowers forming on the vines.

People claim they are good even when very large. I'm finding they actually have a fairly narrow window of opportunity for picking. It isn't that they aren't good at a range of sizes from moderately small to quite large; it's that they grow so fast they can whizz through that window within a day, easily. So, like just about every other bean it's best to pick these every day. They can get as long as they like, but once they start to thicken they toughen fairly rapidly.

In addition to having been apparently renamed from Early Riser to Kwintus, some people say that Northeaster is the same variety as well. I'm not finding a lot about the history of these beans under any name. They are an Italian type, but said to be French, or Dutch. One suggestion is that they are, in fact, Piatelli (Plate); definitely Italian in that case, although that name describes more a class of bean than a specific variety. It does makes a certain amount of sense, however. If that is the case, then if I let them get too large to cook as green beans, they should be good as shelly or dried beans.

How and when they made the jump to North America and acquired all the new names, I don't know. But they are well worth growing for their extreme speed of production.

They have been extremely healthy and rampant. By now they are up to the top of the trellis and making forays into the territory of the beans next to them, and growing back down again. Many of our larger beans did this last year; ultimately going up to the top, back down to the bottom, and back up to the top again by the time they died down, meaning that ultimately the vines would have been over 20 feet in length. It's too early to say for sure that these will do that, but I will not be surprised at all if they do. We aren't having disease problems with the beans this year, but overall, these are lush and dark green. Like all beans, they prefer hot weather and should not be planted until the soil has warmed up sufficiently.
Those flowers in the picture are not the bean flowers, but from a trumpet vine I was pruning.


ila said...

I've been growing Kwintus, my all-time favourite pole bean, for many years, seeds originally from Cook's Garden (in VErmont; now I think defunct/sold to Burpee's). Cook's showed their origin as German. The name, a "germanized" version of quintus (=the 5th) tends to point to Germany (Im a native German speaker). Perhaps a native Dutch speaker could tell you whether the "K" would be used by Dutch to "translate" quintus?
Contrary to your experience, I find Kwintus has a rather LONG window for picking (it's delicious when it's fairly large).
But I've found again and again that Kwintus does not cope well with extended heatwaves/really hot summers - it begins to shut down. (That certainly points to a Northern European origin!) If watered and mulched well, the vines will soldier on and revive in September for more harvest. I garden in Toronto.

Ferdzy said...

Hi Ila, thanks for commenting!

I find beans in general are less able to handle really hot weather than you would expect from something that originated in Central America. Since I wrote this post, though, I have tried enough beans from more southerly places to realize that day-length tolerance can really affect how well beans do (or not). I agree, this one does well at our latitude, suggesting it originated at a similar latitude. And Kwintus may just be from someone writing it down by ear with no idea of the meaning and passing it around under that name... I'm always amazed by how persistant misinformation can be. You (and Cook's Garden) may very well be right about them being German. Thanks for the extra information!