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A Hill of Beans

February 10, 2012

I finally finished shelling the last of my dry beans.  For winter, our weather windows have been quite fantastic.  Sunny days strung together are a blessing for working outside, but what about all those inside winter jobs?  Like finishing my bean threshing…

I plant my dry beans in long rows, and reserve the hill planting (a hill of beans is a few beans planted in a station) for my pole beans.  I had threshed all our eating beans, like this.

We eat most of these beans, but I do need to keep some back for seed.  To plant two 10o foot rows I need a pound and a half of seed beans.  Dry beans are an iffy crop here, most years we pull all the plants and finish drying down in the barn or greenhouse, and shell them later.  Keeping that in mind, rather than just picking dry pods here and there for my seed, I select plants that yield almost all entirely dry pods for my seed.  Many are half and half, but some make the dry cut, those go in the seed pile, the rest are for the pantry.

Last of the seed beans to shell.

The driest pods are desirable for seed to me because number one, I know they will dry on the vine without extra work, and they are also easy to store in a dry place during the busy fall harvest, while other more pressing harvesting and preserving chores are demanding my attention.

Seeds are amazing when you stop to think about them, this little bit of beans would make a small pot of beans, and cookbooks abound with recipes for a cup or can of beans here and there.  One can worth of beans could really amount to a mountain of beans.  Imagine.

25 Comments leave one →
  1. February 10, 2012 1:56 am

    I hated everything about working with beans, but then I cooked with the dried beans we grew and they’re so good I guess I have to do it again. Beans are pretty amazing… I just especially hate shelling them.

    You must keep an excellent farm journal/record…. I’ve got to get better at writing stuff down… I think I’ll remember, but honestly, who am I fooling? I can’t remember what I ate for breakfast.

    • February 10, 2012 6:46 am

      AMF, amazing in my mind only – more like hieroglyphics! I’m like a cow, repetition is the key, I have been gardening so long, I could plant my gardens in my sleep, having a photographic memory really helps. The notes I do keep though, are mostly related to seed saving, so I know where I bought or got the original seed, the year it was grown, and when I planted etc., I NEVER mix up my seeds, that way I can more closely pinpoint what went wrong. Besides operator failure that is… 😉

      • February 10, 2012 11:37 am

        That’s funny. I guess I think a bit like a cow too. I have to do everything in the same way, the same order and keep things in the same place or I start screwing up the works, lol

  2. February 10, 2012 3:49 am

    That really is more than a hill of beans! Definitely a lot beans there…and I’m thinking lots of shelling once they’re dried.

  3. February 10, 2012 4:34 am

    I don’t plant dry beans because Phil doesn’t like them but I do like to plant regular green beans and they always grow well here except last year when the deer at them all 😦

    • February 10, 2012 6:49 am

      Becky, I know my green beans are a deer magnet, funny though, they don’t like these dry beans, but they love the pole beans and the haricot verts…I sic the dogs on them, or sometimes have to cover the beans with deer netting. I love green beans the most – canned.

  4. February 10, 2012 4:44 am

    Those are beautiful beans.. really. What kind are they? I would love to grow some this year.

  5. Shirley W. permalink
    February 10, 2012 6:04 am

    What kind of bean are those? Cranberry? Yumm!

    Last year you posted about collecting ccottonwood buds. I gathered some, put them in olive oil and just got around to making some soap using the oil I strained off of the buds. Is there some way to extract more oil out of the buds? The soap smells lovely, can hardley wait for it to age so that it can be used.

    • February 10, 2012 7:35 am

      Shirley W, they maybe, see comment above. The lady who gave me the seed called them Uncle John beans, because her Uncle John brought them west when they journeyed to Oregon.

      On the buds, I think you might be better off to gather some fresh ones and make more infused oil, it’s the perfect time right now for gathering.

      • Shirley W. permalink
        February 10, 2012 8:14 am

        That is what I did! Thanks for the information and encouragement.

  6. PeterPansDad permalink
    February 10, 2012 12:49 pm

    I started planting in 4′ wide rows after reading “How to Grow More Vegetables and Fruit (and nuts…” (…lengthy title continues). It worked really well for tomatoes and it shines with bush beans. A 4′ wide row of beans 40′ long…each seed planted in a honeycomb pattern 6″ apart keeps the weeds at bay and row space at a minimum.

    I think we planted 11 tomato plants (4-3-4), 7 pepper plants (3-4) and a buffer of oregano in a repeating pattern over 40′. Broccoli did well in this pattern too. I prefer double rows for root crops and for corn.

    • February 10, 2012 4:24 pm

      PPD, I don’t irrigate, (except in the greenhouse) so I use wider row spacing. Is it a pain to harvest something like beans when they are so close? Water-wise gardening link below.

      • February 10, 2012 4:51 pm

        The snap beans were no big deal. You can easily reach 2′ from each side but when necessary we just stepped between the plants. I just let the shell beans ripen then pulled up the whole plant. I had to pull a few buttonweeds but otherwise, it shaded out weeds, stayed moist under the canopy and worked great. The tomatoes could really hide in the tangle though. I was forced to be diligent about maintaining a main runner and cutting the suckers.

        I don’t irrigate but I’m in a different part of the country. We also mulch like crazy and compost everything. Everything. We keep most of the raindrops that hit. I take that back. We carried buckets to our sweet potatoes last summer and watered with a cup.

        • PeterPansDad permalink
          February 10, 2012 4:52 pm

          LOL. Looks like my lovely bride was logged in. Sorry.

        • February 10, 2012 6:04 pm

          FSM, wow! I’m jealous of your sweet potatoes 🙂

  7. February 10, 2012 5:23 pm

    Great bean rows and the plants look so healthy too! I think your secret is in the seed stock and the old type bean. The story from your 85 year old friend is priceless and what a tribute to you both that you recognized the value of those seeds years ago. I sure do enjoy your blog!

    • February 10, 2012 6:02 pm

      Kari, what is so funny, she was one of three sisters, who took up oil painting in their 80’s. All were Master Gardeners, and lived to be over 100. Very vibrant gals! I’m glad to be keeping their bean strain going in our small town.

  8. February 11, 2012 8:22 am

    Also looks like these:

    I grew them this year, not nearly enough though.

    • February 11, 2012 10:19 am

      I agree, I felt I had to keep this variety going for this area, since it had such a rich history here, coming out with the pioneers to settle our area. I have seen them get better and better acclimated to our wet years.

  9. HeadFarmSteward permalink
    February 13, 2012 9:18 am

    Unrelated, I don’t see a better way to ask a question so here goes: I see you grow Golden Eckendorf mangels. Baker Creek says they grow up to 20 pounds. What’s the real average weight?

    • HeadFarmSteward permalink
      February 13, 2012 9:35 am

      …and do you pull and replant them as suggested in this article?

      • February 13, 2012 8:34 pm

        I haven’t read the article yet, but yes I select roots for seed production that have the characteristics that I want and replant them.

        Ok, I read the article, I do not do that. I grow mangels the same as beets, direct seed, and thin as the season progesses. If I don’t get the mangels or even the winter beets going by June 1st or so, I don’t have much of a harvest, I can’t imagine disturbing them by replanting. Just my two cents…

  10. February 21, 2012 5:59 pm

    I think that I have seen those beans here in Southern Illinois, at least the marbling color looks familiar. I may try to find those this spring. I built am insulated plant incubator to start my garden plants this year but I’m not sure if beans transplant well? I may build another one if this one gets too full.

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