Thursday, October 17, 2019

Buried in beans

At the moment, I am buried in beans. Specifically, dry beans.

I prefer to grow bush beans as opposed to climbing beans, and this year I planted eight tires of Jacob's cattle beans and six tires of calypso beans (both heirloom varieties, of course).

This year the Jacob's cattle beans outdid themselves.

The day I chose to pick them was windy, with rain in the forecast. I decided it wasn't such a bad task to pick a couple thousand rattling bean pods on a blustery day.

Rather than yank up the plants and then later remove the pods, this time I stripped the pods directly from the plants.

I got two bushel baskets of bean pods.

The Jacob's cattle beans were so productive that I held aside one tire's worth of beans to weigh the result.

From that one tire, I got almost 2.25 lbs. of beans, which is actually a decent amount for dry beans.

In theory, then, I should end up with about 18 lbs. of dry beans. We'll see. Shelling is slow work, but it's peaceful. I shell a few beans here and there between other tasks. [Update: Total came to 13.25 lbs. of Jacob's cattle beans. Meh.]

Here's an interesting anomaly: a hole bored into a pod...

...resulting in a hollowed-out bean. Must have been one hungry bug.

Here are the calypso beans. There were not as fruitful this year as in years past.

Since I was late picking these beans, a couple of the pods had already popped...

...and spewed the beans on the dirt.

Fewer tires as well as less production resulted in just one-third of a basket of bean pods.

Most of these beans -- both varieties -- will end up in a ginormous post of end-of-the-world chili.


  1. So the obvious questions: is it worth the effort of growing the beans, to end up with only enough for one (admittedly ginormous) pot of chili, and second, do you have any of the last batch of end-of-the-world chili left? :)

    1. I was trying to plant a "generic" garden this year to show prospective buyers what is possible to grow. However 20 lbs. of dry beans is a decent amount and will contribute to several ginormous pots of chili. As with everything else we grow, dry beans are part of the whole. They have one major advantage: they store well.

      - Patrice

  2. I love growing and picking beans Patrice. It is very therapeutic.

  3. To more easily and quickly shell dry beans, pick up a little kiddie swimming pool next season. Set the pool on a flat surface and toss the bean pods into the pool. Wearing clean tennis shoes, step (carefully; I don't just jump on them) on the pods inside the pool. The pods will break open and the beans will pretty much fall out in to the pool. Shake the pool, and as the empty pods "float" to the top, I just pull them out for the compost. We have done this for several years with several varieties of beans, including pinto and kidney beans, and any heirloom bean varieties for which we save the seed. The dry seeds are not damaged, and it goes much, much quicker! This way is also much less rough on the fingers.

  4. When I was a child my mum would put the unshelled beans in an old pillow case and we would walk all over them, I think the swimming pool idea is better fun, but we didn't have things like that "way back when"!