All in all, I think we ended up with twelve bean varieties, though some didn’t do so well in the face of marauding deer.
We only grew a bit of each variety, just to see what works best in our garden’s mesoclimate (that’s the boy’s new favorite word, there).
bottom row, left to right
Jacob’s Cattle Beans, Hidatsa Red Beans, Cherokee Trail of Tears Beans, Black Turtle Beans
Ireland Creek Annie Beans, Yellow Indian Woman Beans, Good Mother Stallard Beans
Marfax Beans, Tiger Eye Beans
True Red Cranberry Beans, Fagiolo Rampicante di Spagna a Grano Bianco (fat white italian/spanish runner beans)
So far, my favorites are the Italian white beans (so fat and meaty), the Tiger Eyes (so creamy), and the True Red Cranberries (so incredibly tasty). I have yet to taste them all, though.
The most productive varieties in our Zone 6, deer- and horseweed-challenged, southwest-facing clay were: Good Mother Stallard, October, Cherokee Trail of Tears, and Black Turtle.
Because we didn’t grow too many beans, we shelled them by hand. But that can be tedious. There are many creative ways to thresh beans. The National Gardening Association has some good basic instructions.