Friday, August 28, 2009

Beautiful Beans

Ottawa Cranberry

Earlier this year I tried to save peas for next year's seed. It didn't work out. It rained. The peas rotten on the vine. It kept raining. I tried harvesting them and letting the pods dry out inside. The pods molded over. It rained some more. Now August is our driest month. On average we only get 3.5" of rain, but I have noticed a pattern to our August rains over the years. We tend to get a lot of sunny dry weather and when the rain comes it comes in a big way then it is sunny and dry again. This makes for some good dried bean picking weather if you time your picking right.

Trail of Tears

Wednesday night we had predictions of isolated thunderstorms. With isolated storms you just can't predict what will happen. It might stay dry or it might pour. Last Saturday morning we got an inch of rain in 45 minutes. That afternoon we were at a BBQ in Arlington, out neighboring town, and they didn't have one drop of rain. Wednesday had been a dry day up to then with temps in the mid eighties. I had some nice dry pods ready to be picked on the plants.

Pods from Trail of Tears Beans

I picked any pods that were mostly dry. It ended up being a nice small bag full of pods. I didn't want to leave them in their pods. My experience with the peas told me that they might mold over if the humidity is high. So I shelled them that day in front of the TV. It takes quite a while to hand shell beans, but I didn't have so many that I went crazy doing it. I love the silken feel of the bean right out of its pod.

I ended up with two nice piles of dried beans. I have about 19 oz of Trail of Tears and 11 oz of Ottawa Cranberry so far. Most of the pods are still on the vine. I'll go out again today to pick more pods. The predicted thunderstorms on Wednesday never showed up and it has been dry since. Saturday tropical storm Danny shows up and it will dump 2-4 inches of rain on us and get everything wet again. I don't want those beans to rot on me.

I hope most of them get ripe before we get into September. Over the years I've found September to be drizzly and damp. The last couple of years have belied that, but it is more likely to be constantly wet, which is not good dried bean weather.


  1. Congratulations on your harvest The beans are so beautiful! I would love to try growing dry beans, I'll remember these variates for next year. Those Ottawa Cranberry are really amazing, wouldn't they look beautiful in a glass jar.

  2. Daphne - those beans are beautiful! Nice photos, too. I haven't thought about saving my seed this year, but definitely will save the burgundy okra.

  3. You've done it again: Inspired me. I've never given the space to dried beans. Next year I will. With gusto.

    Beautiful photos all week of your bounty! THANK YOU! And thanks too for all the details you provide about your gardening techniques. As you saw in my latest post, I have come to rely on your smart approach to even the biggest problems (late blight, echhh).

  4. Oooh! They are so glossy and beautiful! I've always wanted to try dried beans, but I was afraid this climate was too damp and summer was too short. Maybe next year I'll give them a whirl.

  5. Great photos! My wife always eats all the beans off the vine before I can save them as storage beans. Maybe this year.......

  6. They are so beautiful! Next year, next year, is my constant mantra, inspired by you and others like you.

    I'd like pictures of you stomping your harvest : )

  7. Wow, Daphne, those 'Ottawa Cranberry' and 'Trail of Tears' beans are SO gorgeous!!! Do you eat the 'Trail of Tears' as green beans as well as dried beans, or strictly as dried beans? I haven't encountered them before, but after seeing yours will be on the lookout next year!

  8. Daphne, the beans really are lovely and I'm sure they will be delicious too.

  9. Hi Daphne, you are inspired me with those beautiful beans, beautiful photos of them as well. The Ottawa cranberries are so pretty. I love the idea of not having to harvest them green, as I always forget and they get too tough anyway. The scarlet runner beans are pretty like that too, I am leaving them on to dry and save to plant next year. If picked large but still green, they are the prettiest shade of hot pink.

  10. Hi Daphne, I haven't visited your blog for ages as I don't get enough time to go onto Blotanical these days. So I have added your blog onto my side bar on my own blog so I can get over to visit yours more often.
    Your beans look fantastic, in fact all your veggies look good. Lovely photographs as well.

    Have a great week-end.

  11. Those beans look excellent. I am growing some dry bush beans for the first time this year. They are still very green so I hope they have enough time to develop and dry out. Your post also makes me remember I have crimson broad beans hanging upside down in the shed, I will have to check on them tomorrow!

  12. Both varieties are stunningly pretty. I like the look of the trail of tears alot. May have to grow some myself next year. The last time I grew dried beans was the 2007 summer season - so I am about due to work some into the garden again.

  13. To everyone and Lzyjo who commented that they would love to grow these. I'll be offering them up later in the year. I need to get them all in and dry them well then freeze them (kills any pests). So the seed will be available if you want to grow them. I'm guessing in Nov or Dec I'll get all my seeds together and see what I have to give away. I will give away these beans though. I got them as pass along seed, so I feel a need to pass them along in turn. I'll be passing along my Market Miracle tomato seed too, which did great in our wet cold weather this year.

    EG, saving seed is fun. I highly recommend it.

    June, well they don't produce like some plants do. You have to grow a decent amount of them. I'll give you figures of what I planted and what I got at the end of the growing season. I like growing dried beans however. I eat so many of them. And you're very welcome. I find people's blogs really informative too. They teach me so much.

    Taylor, if you can get the beans picked before September then you can do it. Beans only need a nice dry spell when they are being picked. August usually provides that. I picked the plant clean of dried pods before this storm we are now in and will probably get another chance in mid week. BTW just north of the city is a local bean farm, Moraine Farm which markets Baer's Best Beans, so you know you can grow beans. I love to buy their beans because they not only have the old standbys, but also the more interesting ones like Jacob's Cattle, Anasazi, Calypso and Appaloosa beans. When I go to buy them I never know which varieties will be on the shelves that week. Sadly they are only in a few specialty stores (Russo's, Wilson's Farm and a couple others). I'm going to cry when he decides to retire. Not many farms grow dried beans in New England since as you noticed the rain can ruin a crop if it is mistimed.

    Dennis, lol I keep thinking I should be eating them as fresh beans, but I usually don't start eating beans until fall hits and I don't have as much produce from the garden. Beans for me are lunch food.

    Stefaneener, lol I keep thinking that too. I wonder if I should have a whole plot of just dried beans since I eat so many of them over the year.

    our friend Ben, nope I only eat them as a dried bean. They make a fine green bean or so I've heard, but I haven't done that yet. If I have some small unripe pods at the end of the season I'll probably pick them for snap beans.

    Michelle, thanks.

    Frances, I used to grow scarlet runner beans. They are so pretty and also can be eaten as a dried bean, but if you don't keep them picked they don't put out any more of those pretty flowers. I used to grow them because I loved the flowers so much.

    Maureen, thanks!

    Dan, I keep forgetting I have onions in the garage drying out. Hmm I still haven't posted about them. They weren't very spectacular this year.

    kitsapFG, I love the look of both beans. I find it strange that the normal beans you find in the store (kidney, great northern, navy) are all so boring, when there are so many varieties that are pretty. I know they all cook down to one color, but I still love a pretty bean. You should put some in. Especially now that you have a bigger garden. I wish I had the space to grow all my dried beans for the year. That would be really nice.

  14. My onions were pretty small again this year. How to grow big onions alludes me. The ones I grew from seed ended up growing much large then the set grown ones though. I guess all the work it takes starting them during Jan/Feb is worth it.

  15. I just love that last photo-the colors and textures are gorgeous.