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Romano Green Beans

By Rick Gush, Urban Farm contributor

Friday, May 25, 2012

Romano green beans

Photo by Rick Gush

Romano green beans are my favorite beans!

I had never grown Romano green beans before I came to Italy, and the only ones I had eaten were, I realize now, horribly overcooked. Romano beans have a bit of mucilage like okra, but only a small amount. Unfortunately, overcooking is how to bring out the mucilage, so that’s what a lot of folks get when they eat these legumes. That’s too bad, because these big, flat crops are delicious, and they have become my favorite green bean. My wife makes a dish with pasta, some soft cheese, such as precensua (imagine ricotta cheese with more flavor); and big, flat beans called taccole, or Romano. The mucilage in question works particularly well when the flat beans are quick-fried with oil and garlic; the slight braising is very tasty.

Romano beans grow just like all other green beans. The varieties are mostly of the climbing kind, but there are some bush types, as well. Generally, the bush types produce a single large flush and a subsequent dribble, while the climbers seem to be more consistent producers. This means that planting a series of different seedlings, maybe two weeks apart, is the best way to have a long harvest period with the bush beans.

Beans like warmth, so I never try to push the seeds into cold soil. I really press to get most of my vegetables in as early as possible, but not the green beans. At the moment, I’m about to plant our taccole for the year, and the weather is acting funny and I’m hesitant to plant if the next week is going to be wet and cool, as the predictions say. Hmm ... this may be an appropriate time to plant the seeds in pots indoors, something I almost never would do for easy-germinating seeds, such as beans.

Once the plants are up, I find I get much better results if I consistently water them regularly. If the plants have to fight for water at some point, the flowers don’t seem to set as well, and the little beans that were on the vine will never fully recover from the shock. I use thick mulch to ensure that the soil stays moist at all times. I think the mulch also helps prevent competition from weeds, which isn’t a good thing, because they have relatively shallow root systems that are easily adversely affected by weed competition.

In all the years of growing these beans, I think I’ve had a dozen different pest problems with them, from rust to mosaic diseases, but still I consider beans an almost pest free plant. Sure, it might look ragged at the end of the season, but that doesn’t matter as long as the plants produced a lot of beans in the meanwhile.

When I first started growing beans, I would always get a package of inoculating powder to dip the seeds in before planting. That inoculation seemed to help more nitrogen-fixing nodules to grow on the bean plants’ roots, which seemed to be a good thing. But, I will admit my data was vague. These days, I don’t inoculate, mostly because I haven’t seen a nursery here that sells the packets of inoculation powder.

Read more of Rick's Favorite Crops »

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Here is how I cook romano beans. Since the season also brings tomatoes and basil I use a bit of olive oil, a dab of butter(for flavor) and use a little sliced onion and minced garlic. Once thje garlic starts to give off it's fragrance I add the beans(use a large enough pan- don't crowd them)Stir fry them for about 5 minutes and add chopped peeled seeded tomato.Allow to simmer for a few more minutes and add salt and pepper to taste and finish with fresh basil. Delicious.
Richard, Boston, MA
Posted: 6/15/2015 5:40:09 AM
These are the best tasting green bean I've ever eaten, fresh cooked out of the garden is best.
Tom Hi ckman, Moses Lake, WA
Posted: 5/27/2014 8:27:53 AM
Thanks for the cooking tip.
Carl, Livermore, CA
Posted: 5/21/2013 11:23:37 AM
Thanks for the informative article, I was searching on line for more info on Romano beans having never grown any, and having never eaten any. I believe I'll add a packet to my regular order of Masai and Jade bush beans.
Rebecca, Barton City, MI
Posted: 5/1/2013 5:38:01 AM

About the Blogger

Rick Gush

Rick Gush
Rick Gush has long been a staunch organic gardener. While a student at the University of California at Davis he worked at local tomato and sugar beet farms and continued in the agricultural and horticultural industries for many years. A career move in the 1990s led him to design computer games, but no matter how much of a techie he’s become, gardening and farming remain his principal passions.

In 2000, Rick moved to Italy, where he writes to you about his cliff garden and other experiences in Italian urban agriculture.

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