Talk Dirt To Me

Gardening in Alaska presents big challenges, whether it's the extra effort in finding plants tough enough to survive our Zone 2-4 climate, communicating with like-minded Alaska gardeners, or keeping up with the latest trends, issues and solutions. We'll try to help with that. We'll also tour gardens from Homer to Anchorage to Wasilla to Willow whenever we get the chance, and post the best garden photos around. Presenting a forum about cold-weather gardening and for cold-weather gardeners is what we are all about. We hope you'll join us on the Talk Dirt garden blog.

Photographer and gardener Fran Durner ( writes the blog.

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These green beans are purple

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These grown beans don't look like the photo on the seed package. Are they OK to eat?These grown beans don't look like the photo on the seed package. Are they OK to eat?

I have questions regarding my goofy looking green beans and was hoping that someone more experienced than I could help! What’s up with the purple spots and the curvy bean? All of them look like this! Some beans are almost completely purple. I haven’t tried eating one yet…

Karen, The couple of times I tried growing beans, and I don't remember the variety I grew, I had the same results. It puzzled me as well and I thought maybe it was some sort of virus in the soil, so I kind of gave up on growing them ever again. But I asked Mary Shier, who is a Master gardener and has a lovely, extensive vegetable garden to give her opinion.

Would love to hear from anyone else who may have had this happen to them...--Fran

Hi Karen,
I have grown green beans with this coloration several times.(Pic sure helps) When cooked this disappears and you never know it was there. Don't know what causes it other than being a characteristic of the bean. There is a bean called Tendergreen that has this mottled purple color.
When cooked they taste fine. I have gotten so that I just ignore the extra color. You can also look at it in another way. The more color the more vitamins!!!??
The curve may be due to weather or not enough moisture. I've also experienced that as well. For package pictures usually the most perfect subjects are used. In catalog pictures there are straight and curved shown in most.

  3     September 23, 2007 - 4:17pm | talkdirt

Mystery solved

I have left a voice message and sent an email to Denali Seeds with no reply yet. However, I stopped by the CES office on Friday and spoke with Julie Riley who showed me a CES pamphlet on recommended vegetables for Southcentral Alaska and lo - if Contender isn't listed with the disclaimer "Pods may become splashed with purple." So this is not unusual for the Contender variety, in fact it's perfectly normal and perfectly safe to eat. Enjoy!! - Fran

  2     September 16, 2007 - 3:47pm | deerbarb

curly spotted beans

I live in Homer, I grew the same variety (contender) and they did the same thing. If you leave them on the vine longer, they tend to straighten out more. But they ARE perfectly good to eat and delicious. The spots go away and the purple changes to green upon cooking. We should ask Denali seeds why they look like that! Contender has always been a reliable, early bush bean recommended for Alaska.

  September 16, 2007 - 4:56pm | talkdirt

Curly spotted beans

That's a really good idea! I'll try to find someone at Denali Seed Co. who could address this. In the meantime, thanks for sharing your experience. It's nice to know when you are not the only one with this sort of thing happening!

  1     September 12, 2007 - 2:35pm | tagalak

just a guess

When I looked at the curly bean, I thought.... ooopppsss.. too much fertilizer. I once used too heavy a dose of liquid fertilizer and turned it purple... or could it have something to do with what it is planted in?
I know little to nothing about vegetable growing other than trial and error..... just thinking out loud

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