While I was cutting down the pole beans yesterday, my husband was playing around opening the huge ones that were still left on the plant. He brought to my attention some dark speckled beans. Those are what the seeds I bought looked like. Eureka! He had just unwittingly harvested our first pole beans. There were only 2 pods that were ready for harvesting but that provided us with 15 seeds which should be more than enough for next year's crop. I read that If frost comes before the seeds are ready to harvest, you can take the whole plant out of the ground and hang upside down in a dry dark area of the house. I contemplated this for about one second and then realized I'm not ready to have mud strewn about the basement carpet just yet.
You can tell they are ready when the shell becomes white and kind of crunchy to the touch. The seeds look dark and speckled. I'm going to pop them in the freezer over winter. We'll see what becomes of them next year. I'm hoping they will be even stronger than the seeds I bought as they had a year in my garden to adjust.