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Poverella Bean

Phaseolus vulgaris

Grown by: Truelove Seeds Farm in Glen Mills, PA

  • $5.00

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Tender purple and purple-striped Roma type pole beans that traveled with Concetta Liberto and family from Calabria, Italy to Pittsburgh, PA. An Italian Garden Project variety!

These tender, but meaty beans are most productive when allowed to climb poles of at least seven feet and harvested regularly. Pods mature to a lovely purple, green with purple striations, or light purple with dark purple striations, but turn bright green when cooked. The Liberto family would plant 6-8 seeds in holes dug where poles are to be situated. When beans sprout to 3-4” tall, place the poles. At Truelove Seeds, we plant the seeds every 3-4” along a seven foot tall vertical trellis.

These beans were shared with The Italian Garden Project by Concetta Liberto of Glenshaw, Pennsylvania. Concetta was born in the town of Maierato in the province of Vibo Valentia in Calabria where she grew up working alongside her family on their small, self-sufficient farm. Of the many vegetables they grew, these pole beans were among their favorites. Her mother referred to them as Poverella beans, meaning “Poor thing” in Italian. Concetta came to the US in 1954 with her sister to meet several other family members who had recently arrived. Eventually, the whole family settled in the Larimer neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania where many others from Maierato also settled. During a return visit to her hometown in 1958, Concetta met her husband, Giuseppe Liberto. They married in 1959 and returned to the US. Concetta and Giuseppe always maintained a large garden where they grew many of the fruits and vegetables of their homeland. Concetta continues to garden and prepare her traditional foods for her children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren.

Learn more about Concetta Liberto on the Italian Garden Project website here.

This seed is part of the Italian Garden Project’s Italian American Collection.

This collection represents seeds from the most cherished vegetables of Italian immigrants, those flavors that just couldn't be left behind. Only the best of the best would have been deemed worthy of the passage from the Old World to the New. These are seeds which have been passed down through families for generations, saved from the most vigorous specimens hand-selected each season. When they arrived in America, they were lovingly propagated in backyard gardens and traded as valuable commodities within Italian communities.

Heirloom seeds such as these which have been nurtured over hundreds of years and traveled across continents are at risk of being lost and their histories forgotten. In order to safeguard these treasures, The Italian Garden Project has been seeking out these heirlooms from across the US and serving as their caretaker. And now our partnership with Truelove Seeds and their growers ensures that these unique varieties will continue to flourish and provide the authentic flavors of the past well into the future.

Days to maturity: 60

Seeds per pack: 45

Germination rate: 99% on 11/30/2023

Planting / harvesting notes

Plant in warm soil at least a couple weeks after the last danger of frost has passed. The Liberto family would plant 6-8 seeds in holes dug where poles are to be situated. When beans sprout to 3-4” tall, place the poles. At Truelove Seeds, we sow the seeds ½ to 1 inch deep every 3-4” along a seven foot tall vertical trellis. Provide a sturdy trellis as the vines can grow six to eight feet tall. Needs ample sun and good airflow.

Seed keeping notes

Beans are self-pollinating, though it is best to isolate different varieties of P. vulgaris by at least 25 feet (we do 75 feet to be sure) to avoid unwanted cross-pollination from flying insects. For seed saving, harvest the beans when their shells have become dried and crispy on the plants. Lay out the pods in a dry, sunny place to dry down further. Shell the beans and lay out the seeds in a well ventilated place away from direct sunlight for at least another few days to a week before storing for next year.


This product is part of the Italian Collection.

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