The beauty and variation of bean seed
The last of the climbing French and Runner beans were harvested last Tuesday after the plants succumbed to the first frost of the season. They have been in the poly-tunnel drying since then. Yesterday afternoon I removed beans from pods and they will be dried off to a safe storage moisture content in airing cupboard at home. It’s amazing the yield obtained: I have only managed to pod about half the harvested beans (the others need further time for development and pod drying) but must have about a kilogram of beans. Considering the price of bean seeds (about £3:00 for a packet of 20 or so), there must be close to £1,000 retail value of seed. How can seed companies in the UK justify the high price of the seed they sell?
It is interesting to note that I grew more than 7 varieties of beans (including a heritage variety) and each produces seed with different characteristics (colour, size, patterns) that allows the seed of the different varieties to be separated from one another. The beauty of the seed is amazing since the pods were all so similar apart from the heritage variety that had purple pods that were more rounded. Although the majority of seed is the result of self pollination there is a degree of cross pollination and one would have to take measures to prevent this if you wanted seed that was 100% true to type. Personally I do not mind some variation and there is the possibility of producing something truly unique and an improvement.
Little if any of the commercial vegetable seed we buy in the UK is produced in the UK. Most comes from large seed houses in the Netherlands who source the majority of it from Eastern Europe and Asia. In terms of cost seed is much cheaper to buy in Europe and cost of UKproduction is not the reason for the high cost of the seed that is sold to the amateur grower in the UK.