100 days — Also known as 'Tobacco Road' or 'Red Eye'
bean, 'Tobacco Patch' is similar in appearance to the New England heirloom 'Soldier
' bean. 'Tobacco Patch' bean plants reach eighteen to twenty-four inches in height, are sturdy and erect, and do a good job keeping the four inch pods off of the ground. We do see a small percentage of short runners occurring but it is minimal and the plants do not require support.
Primarily grown to maturity and harvested as a dry bean, the pods can be harvest as a green bean at the immature stage before seeds start to develop and before they get fibrous. Keep in mind that these are "old-timey" beans that will probably need to be snapped (ends snapped off and strings removed) prior to cooking. But the reward for the extra effort is a great, full flavor often lacking in modern stringless beans. Additionally, some Southern gardeners wait until the seeds become fully filled out in the pods and harvest at the green "shelly" stage.
This Southern classic was sent to us by Melody Rose of Kentucky. Once quite common in her area, the local farm cooperative lost their last grower in about 2000. Melody wrote:
"My beans came from Mr. Harold Wayne Moss of Murray, Kentucky. He and his friend Jimmy Outland have been growing these beans for years (they share a garden on Harold Wayne's farm). They like the beans so much because they cook up so quickly. They don't even bother to soak them overnight. You can talk to many older folks in this area and all fondly recall 'Tobacco Patch' beans. Our local Feed 'n Seed which is a Southern States store, even sells them if they can get a local grower to share seeds. Some years they aren't available and when they are, they sell out long before there's even a chance of planting (if you don't get them by March, you don't get them)."
We began trialing 'Tobacco Patch' beans here on the farm in 2004. We also have grown out 'Soldier
' beans in the same year for comparison. If the 'Tobacco Patch' and 'Soldier
' share a common ancestry, it is our opinion that it is in the distant past and that they are two distinct varieties. We began offering 'Tobacco Patch' beans for the first time in 2013. Each packet contains one ounce, which is approximately 50 seeds.