First, there is no other substantial protein from the garden that can store as well and as easily. No solar dehydrator here – leave them out on a sheet pan, done. No special root cellar storage required – leave them in a jar in a pantry, done. I had a moment this April, when the root cellar produce was eaten or spoiled, the coldframe greens were just producing, and the last of my dried beans from the prior year stared me in the face. I realized at that moment how key a player dried beans could and should be in our diet. Produce from the garden, year-round, with ease. That’s rare.
Second biggy: crop rotation. Any time you can get a nitrogen fixing crop preceding a heavy feeding crop, it’s a win. So when I plant a big crop of dry beans, not only is it easily storable, it’s fantastic for whatever plant will follow it in that space. I needed legumes in my rotation, problem solved. Then there’s its dietary contribution – carb and protein that isn’t a potato. It’s a welcome addition to the diet, especially when there’s an abundance of it’s friend, pork. And the icing on the cake is that seed saving is a no brainer – no extra task required. Simply grab a few of last year’s from the bean jar, and plant them. All exceedingly genius. Hence my new love for dried beans. Once the full crop is in, I’ll post an update with which varieties performed best for me, as I have quite a few kinds going at the moment.