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Dry Beans – Preliminary Verdict [2011 harvest]

08.31.11

Last night I tackled the next round of bean harvest and shelling. I’m realizing one of the perks of being small-scale on this I can harvest as they ripen – which they are not doing all at once – and it’s actually quite pleasurable to sit and shell them. Yes I will likely thresh them as my production increases.

Some results are becoming apparent. The pinto bean is a winner in my garden, by far. I’d guess that it has out-yielded in number at least 4 to 1. That’s big. So if somebody asked: ‘hey, what single bean should I plant in Edmonton for good yield‘, I’d have to go with pinto at this stage. Not only do I have lots already relative to the other varietals, there are still lots coming. They’re also a climbing bean, which means they’re particularly useful for space maximization in an urban setting. Many of the others are bush beans.

Next up is the first one shown below. I have to contact my source of seed [bought 3-4 yrs ago, as I seed save], Salt Spring Seeds, to have them ID it for me. If you know what it is, weigh in. Nice uniform large size – larger than the pinto. Then it’s Jacob’s Cattle – the reddish mottled one below. It’s a very attractive bean, and size was really good this year. Favorite after that was the red kidneys, then the orcas – neither producing much, but they’re lovely to have coming from the garden. I’d say the pintos out-yielded them by 10:1 or so. I have about 4 other varieties that grew, but yielded so little that I won’t bother next year. There will likely be more to say once the harvest is done, but I’m pretty sure the outcome won’t change much.

10 Responses

  1. Evelyn says:

    Do you let them dry on the vines like that, or did you pick earlier and let them dry out indoors? I’m not certain what to do with mine.

  2. Now I want to drink beer and eat beans. Good thing the wife is away.

  3. Kevin says:

    Evelyn – yeah, they’re dried on the vine and harvested when they’re just able to start to crack. Soft = bad, too fragile = spilled beans. I then air-dry the shelled beans on the sheet pan for weeks.

    Bob – totally. And pork. And beans. And beer.

  4. Kristeva says:

    I love the little Orcas. I too did not have much yield but in Bella Coola that wasn’t surprising. Not exactly shell out bean country!

  5. Kevin says:

    Hi Kevin,
    Nice to read your stuff!
    That bean sure looks like one I’ve had called Hutterite but I’m not sure if I was still selling that when you got your seeds from me.
    Cheers
    Dan Jason – Salt Spring Seeds

  6. I love growing beans here on the Wet Coast! I grow Pintos, Scarlet Runner & Romano beans more or less for the flowers – they attract lots of bees & humming birds!!! But I let some go to seed every year so I have planting stock for the next year. Now that I’ve seen the sheer variety of dryable beans you grow in Edmonton, especially those cute Orcas, I’ll just have to have a go at planting more of them here in the Vancouver burbs!!!

  7. Debra Krause says:

    Psst! Kevin! (that’s me, being all sneaky like)
    what would i have to aquire to get you to trade me some seed beans?? (i have wild blueberries!)
    i don’t need a lot, maybe a dz or so to get a plot started next year…

  8. Debra,
    Kevin hardly shares at all – haha.
    What I want to know – and really, I want to know this, is why are you growing your own when they are incredibly cheap to buy and most can be found regionally? I am asking as there are so many other more expensive “crops” I would probably use by little city lot for than dried beans – and I am brave enough to have everyone that knows the answer to this to laugh at my expense. Do they taste that much better? Is it the control of the product? I love beans – and do use a fair amount during the winter – I probably could grow as many as I use – fair amount for one.
    Is it that it is all about complete self sufficiency? I am really that curious.
    :)
    Valerie

  9. Kevin says:

    Valerie – a variety of reasons. First is probably the same reason I grow potatoes – I prefer to eat my own, knowing how they’ve been raised, and simply because it’s rewarding. Self sufficiency feels good. Not far behind though is my desire to use effective crop rotation – legumes are key. The more peas and beans I can incorporate into my garden rotation, the better for the rest of the crops. Thankfully, peas are my girls’ favorite, and beans are a favorite of mine. Being nitrogen fixers, it will allow me to grow healthy, vigorous veg without the use of fertilizer. I’m on zero pesticide and zero fertilizer regime. They’re also a good fit into our recent newly found pork-centric diet late in the winter when everything else in the cellar is going south – so easy to store, seed save, and grow. Those are all pretty big assets that make buying regionally grown conventional ones unnecessary or helpful, even if cheap. Hope that helps!

  10. Thanks – I had no idea about the crop rotation thing – used to do all of that when I did serious gardening, but with only two of us, I do much less serious gardening! So, yes. VERY helpful. The rewarding and knowing where it comes from I get, anyway – but with so many choices, so little time and space, I really did not “get it”. Now I do.
    :)
    V

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