When planning your garden, and planning to save your own seed, crossbreeding is always a concern. All beans will cross, even between bush and pole varieties within their respective subgroups (e.g. common, Lima, Runner, Fava). Planting more than one variety of the same subgroup is not recommended. Beans do not generally cross the subgroup boundaries, so, planting a variety of beans from different subgroups in close proximity is not a problem.
Seed savers should plant an additional ten feet or more of dry bean row and then select the best non-hybrid dry beans as seeds for next years’ garden and a few extra as reserve seeds in case of crop failure. As a general rule, bean seed should be chosen for:
- Seed quality: The seed should be mature, air dried, and not be moldy or have started to sprout
- Size: the larger seed is generally considered to have been an indication of healthy growth.
- Shape: choose a seed that has a shape consistent with the norm for the variety of beans.
- Color and Pattern: seed that has the color and pattern consistent with the norm for the variety of beans.