Large Purple Kidney
90 days — 'Large Purple Kidney' bean plants are erect, reach about twenty-four inches in height, require no support, are uniform in production, and are very productive. The pods are reach six to seven inches long with kidney-type beans that are large, meaty, and a deep maroonish-purple color. The bean turns brown when cooked and although they look similar to other kidney beans, the flavor is outstanding. They seem to stay moist and not dry out.
We love mysteries and this bean's history is one of them. Two different gardeners, from opposite ends of the Willamette Valley in Oregon, provided us with seeds and similar stories.
We received the first sample of this bean in 2001 when we were contacted by a local gardener named Gayenell Henderson. Gayenell told us that her grandmother, Wanda Paxton, had grown them for over fifty years. Wanda had received seeds from her German neighbor who grew them commercially on his farm during World War II near Damascus, Oregon. Wanda grew them in her garden every year until her death in 2000. Gayenell had already picked up the preservation torch by growing them in her own garden since the mid-1980s, but she wanted to share them and hoped that we would help make them available to more gardeners.
In 2005, we were contacted by a man that lived to the south of our farm by the name of Frank Gehrman.* Mr. Gerhman was a decorated veteran of World War II who upon returning from the war, bought his farm in Scotts Mills, Oregon from an elderly farmer by the name of Mr. Norberg. Norberg reportedly had been growing the bean on his place for fifty years and used it as one of his primary staples. Because it did so well, Mr. Gehrman continued growing the beans on his farm for nearly sixty years until his death in 2007.
Although we originally named the bean, "Wanda" and Mr. Gerhman called it "The Norberg Bean," it is clearly the same variety and so we simply gave it the descriptive name of 'Large Purple Kidney'. Judging by the historical narrative we have, we suspect that it was once an old commercial variety and are still working at collecting and searching through old regional seed catalogs for a match.
This is one of our favorite beans to grow here on our farm. No matter what Mother Nature throws at us in any given year, this bean thrives and produces well. Each packet contains one ounce which is approximately 35 seeds.