This year was my first year growing beans for drying. I usually have purchased dried beans on hand in the winter, but I wanted to see if I could handle growing my own without adding more to my work load than I could handle. (Also — as with any food — homegrown is always far superior to store-bought.)
I choose two varieties: Agate Pinto and Taylor Dwarf Horticultural, both of which I purchased from Fedco.
I only planted about 24 Agate Pinto beans and about 30 Taylor Dwarf Horticultural. The idea was to test and see what they’d do for me and how much time they’d take before I took on a larger planting.
The Results of my Test
According to the Fedco catalog the Agate Pinto is suppose to be a breakthrough that dwarfed most of the typical vininess out of pintos making the Agate more like a bush bean. That didn’t happen in my garden and I ended putting some tall tomatoes stakes with them for them to climb. The catalog said that an occasional plant will still send out sprawling runners, but all of mine grew at least 6 feet. They mention that excessive nitrogen can cause that — but I feel confident that was not the case in my garden.
The Taylor Dwarf Horticultural was a true bush bean.
Both beans looked great in the garden.
How I Harvested
As the beans matured and the leaves started to fall from the plants, I checked the beans at least every other day and picked any pods that were totally dry.
In the house, I had a basket designated for each variety of the dried beans. I’d add each days harvest to the appropriate basket.
I just couldn’t give priority to shelling the beans until after last Saturday’s showing of my husband’s recent works. (He’s an artist and that’s how we make our living: http://billmartz.com)
Finally shelling the beans
Yesterday, I shelled the Pintos. Had them on the kitchen table and shelled a few off and on during the day as a break from other work. From the 24 beans I had planted I got a pound of dried beans.
Today I started shelling the Taylor Dwarf Horticultural beans. They’re really beautiful to look at. I still have a few to shell but it looks as if I’ll get more than pound from the 30 seeds I planted.
Determining the size of the planting for next year
Now I have to decide if I want to use the garden space I have to at least double my planting for dried beans. I love lima beans and snap beans for fresh eating and they’ll take top priority. I’ll look towards doubling the amount of beans for drying next year, but it will be determined depending on what is taking place in the garden when I get ready to plant.
Saving my Seed
I’ll save about 60 of the biggest and best looking beans from this year’s harvest of each variety to plant next year. After growing them from my seed for 3 or 4 years I should have beans that will be perfectly suited for my garden’s conditions.
Why not think about growing something new each year and maybe something that you can easily keep for winter. If you’re not sure what you can handle time-wise, plant a small amount so you can see what’s involved and also how that particular crop will do for you.
Taking on too much has done-in many a gardener.
Organic Gardening is easy, efficient, effective — and it’s a lot healthier.
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