The peppers may be crap this year but I'm taking consolation from the fabulous Greek Gigante beans that I'm growing for the first time. Perhaps you've come across these in a Greek restaurant, that's where I first encountered them, at Evvia in Palo Alto. I have them every time I have a chance to eat there which is not very often since I live more than 90 miles away. Evvia prepares them in a typical way, baked in tomato sauce and served as a meze. If you are a bean fan these are not to be missed. Gigantes are also known as Gigandes, Yigandes, Yiyantes, and who knows how many other variant spellings. And then there is also the Macedonian Elephant bean which seems to be the extra-large selection of the already huge Gigante (Giant) bean.
There seems to be a lot of confusion about what type of bean the true Gigante bean is. I've seen them classified as common beans - Phaseolus vulgaris. There are large white lima beans or butter beans, Phaseolus lunatus, being sold as Gigante beans. Actually, that's about all I can find when I do a web search for Gigante Bean seeds. But I do believe that those are incorrect classifications, the true Greek Gigante bean is a runner bean, Phaseolus coccineus. The misclassification probably came about because of the difficulty of finding the real deal for cooking so a number of substitutes are recommended. The Spanish Hija bean is a good substitute, it is also a large white runner bean, although not as large as the Gigante. I have a very good Greek cookbook that calls for large white lima or butter beans, presumably because the author supposes that true Gigantes aren't readily available. But look at those flowers above and the plants below, those are neither common nor lima bean plants. And for further confirmation that these are runner beans, the cotyledons stayed in the ground when the seeds germinated.
So, you ask, where did I get my seeds if they are not available anywhere? I got them in a seed swap. And where did my seed source get his seeds? From a bag of imported Greek Gigante beans for eating. The real deal. Well, technically speaking, my harvests can't be called true Gigante or Elephant beans which must be grown in the Prefecture of Kastoria in northern Greece, so these are the California kissing cousins.
These beans are going to be huge. Each pod has 1 to 3 beans forming and there are a lot of beans setting. So far, so good, I'm keeping my fingers crossed that something doesn't happen to mess with my beans.