Back in the 2011 garden, we bought a few packets of soup-type beans, and planted a few experimental rows. Then, things got hectic, and we just pulled the plants the night before the first frost, roots and all, and hung them upside down in the pantry to dry out and await shelling. Of course, the busyness never ended, and the beans did not get shelled. Until the last couple of days, when I finally decided to clean and organize the pantry! So, here it is: an extremely belated report on the dry beans from the 2011 garden (with pictures):
We planted four types of dry beans, plus chick peas. The chick peas were a total bust; they had developed decent-sized pods, but the peas themselves did not fill out at all, and were just teeny lumps inside those huge pods. It might have just been a bad year, or we may have gotten a variety that needs a longer season than we have; however, I am pretty sure that there are farmers in Saskatchewan growing chickpeas, so we’ll probably give them another try, eventually.
The Papa de Rola were probably the prettiest bean, but were unfortunately the lowest-yielding:
The red kidney beans did okay, but again, not a spectacular yield:
The Jacob’s Cattle beans are also gorgeous, but again not all that high-yielding:
The highest yield was from the Pinto beans:
It took me maybe an hour and a half (interrupted by a screaming child on two occasions, so I am not certain of the exact amount of time) to shell all of these beans. A fair bit of work, but not bad for several meals’ worth of beans. I started out being kind of disappointed at how few beans there were, but then I thought about it for a bit – we planted a standard sized seed packet of each type (so basically a small handful of each), then did not water the beans at all, and hardly weeded them, either. They probably would have all had much better yields had we taken proper care of them. Although they take up a fair bit of garden real estate (we made a row per packet, and each row was probably 25-30′ long), we have the space to grow these, and they increase the fertility of the garden, being a nitrogen-fixing legume. Also, the goats love to eat the leftover plant parts, even dried! I am plotting to grow maybe two or three times as many rows next summer (or maybe even more!), and will trial some other varieties, to see what we like best – I would like to have some sort of black bean in the garden, too. Like most of the other garden stuff, it takes a surprising amount of work to grow your own, and it shocks me all over again at how cheap grocery-store food is. However, considering they taste great, go in about half our recipes, and keep more or less forever, dry beans will stay on our growing list.