Today is a pleasantly cool rainy fall day, perfect for listening to some favorite tunes, enjoying a cup of tea and shelling beans, humming and dancing while the shelled beans pile up in a bowl, ready to be planted next spring and eaten this winter.
When I shell dried beans, I keep some of the biggest, plumpest out for planting the following year. The rest are put into jars for eating.
There are literally hundreds of varieties of dried beans, so choose the ones you like to eat. Are you into Minestrone soup, then grow Cannellini beans. Into nachos, then grow pinto or black beans. Love making chili, grow some Kidney beans. Beyond these pretty well known favorites there are loads of other types to try to make you own unique winter soup.
A couple lesser known of favorites I like to grow are Vermont Cranberry and Christmas Limas. Vermont Cranberry is a bush bean, where Christmas Limas are pole beans. They are both beautiful and both make your soup broth a rich warm burgundy color.
You can find lots of varieties of dried beans that grow as bush beans or pole beans, depending on which you prefer to grow. I like a bit of both. Bush beans yield faster, but I get a larger harvest from pole beans. Check the Days to Maturity on the varieties that look interesting to you. This will tell you if you’ll have enough time to grow them until they dry on the plant. If you are in the south, this is usually not an issue. Northern gardeners whose number of hot summer days are shorter may want to stick to shorter days to maturity bush types.
When looking at seed catalogs for bean varieties, note that some beans are good both fresh and dried. This can be a good use of garden space, as you can have a round or two of fresh green beans, then let the rest go for dried beans. This way you get two types of beans from one plant!
Bon appetit, I’m off to enjoy my first cool weather soup made with home grown beans.