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How To Grow Dried Beans In The Backyard Garden

Beans are a great protein source that you can easily grow yourself. You do not need to worry about animal care or city ordinances and beans are extremely versatile in the kitchen. If you want to be more self sufficient and grow more of your own food, you need to know how to grow dried beans in your home garden!

Raising your own livestock can be a great option, but it’s not possible for everyone. Plus beans are a great source of protein and there is so much you can do with them. Many people grow green beans and snap peas for fresh eating, but you can totally grow your own beans for the pantry too.

I also think it’s great fun whenever I can grab something out of my pantry and stick it in the ground and grow more food for myself. That’s just cool!

If you want to be more self sufficient and grow more of your own food, you need to know how to grow dried beans in your home garden!

How To Grow Dried Beans To Be More Self-Sufficient

Beans are not super difficult to plant. They’re perfectly happy in average soil of a neutral PH, especially when it’s well drained.

You can inoculate your beans before you plant them with the nitrogen fixing bacteria, but if you grow beans frequently it’s highly likely that the bacteria may already be present in your soil.

Bush Beans V.S. Pole Beans

When you pick which varieties you can grow, decide if you want to just to dry your harvest or if you want to also eat them fresh as green beans. Choose varieties that can do both if you like green beans.

You’ll also want to decide if you want to plant bush beans or pole beans. Bush beans are smaller and they don’t need a trellis. They’re the best option for large commercial farms that need to use a tractor. Pole beans need a trellis, but they can be more productive in less space. If you are in a smaller area you can get more yield for your space with pole varieties.

When To Plant Dried Beans

Beans are a warm weather crop, so you’ll want to plant after all risk of frost has passed. If you measure your soil temperature with a thermometer it should be at least 70 degrees.

If you don’t have a soil thermometer you may be able to look up your local soil temperature from the National Weather Service if your area is reporting that data.

The easiest way to find out what to plant is to find out what your USDA Plant Hardiness Zone is. Just type your zip code into the map and it will tell you. This allows you to figure out what to plant in your specific area.

This recently updated as well, so if you haven’t checked in a while, you might want to recheck. San Antonio recently changed from zone 8b to 9a, so that’s really helpful for me to know when planning out my garden.

If you live in zones 10-13 you can start planting beans in January and February. March is fine for zones 8-12. Zones 7-10 can plant beans in April. May is good for zones 2-8. Zones 2-7 can plant in June and July. Only zones 7-9 have time to get a crop in by August. Zones 9 and 10 can plant beans in September, and 10 and 11 can plant in October. Only zone 10 has time for a crop in November, and if you live in zones 13, you can start planting beans as early as December. Whew! Got all that? Haha, me neither. Here’s a graphic that should help:

How To Plant Dried Beans

While it’s a good idea to soak beans before cooking, you should not before you plant them in the garden. Most beans should be planted one inch deep, with plants six inches apart. Do leave about four feet between rows. If you’re planting garbanzo beans, their rows can be spaced closer together.

They’ll do best with one inch of water per week, plus mulch around the plants to help retain the water. Beans are better at resisting mites if they are watered regularly. If it’s very hot, such as summer in Texas, they can also benefit from some shade cloth.

How To Get Rid Of Spider Mites

Spider mites can cause yellowing on the leaves and damage your plants. If you have them you will be able to see tiny bugs on the underside of the leaves. A strong stream of water from the hose can dislodge mites from your plants.

Bindweed can host spider mites, so make sure to remove it from near your beans. You can also introduce natural predators such as ladybugs or predaceous midges. There are pesticides you can use, such as bifenazate, but then you are no longer gardening organically and it can impact the bees and other beneficial insects that visit your garden.

How To Deal With Stinkbugs on Your Bean Plants

Stinkbugs will also happily eat your bean plants before you get a chance. However, ladybugs and other predatory insects will happily assist you in cleaning up any stink bugs hanging around. If you manually pick them off, toss them to your chickens for a great little protein snack.

Planting marigolds and other things that attract beneficial insects and pollinators near your beans should help discourage stinkbugs from getting settled into your beans. There are also pheromone traps that lure them away from your garden.

How To Handle Fungus On Your Bean Plants

There are various fungal diseases that can impact your bean patch. Unfortunately, the best way to handle these is to burn (or bag up and throw away) any affected leaves or plants and then wash your tools so they don’t spread it. If you know you struggle with a particular disease in your garden or area look for disease resistant varieties to plant.

Make sure you don’t plant legumes in the same areas each year to avoid fungal diseases building up in the soil. While a solid blast on the leaves with water can discourage mites, if you’re struggling with any fungus, only water your bean plants at the soil level. It’s also a good idea to water in the morning so there is enough time for the leaves and stems to fully dry during the day. Proper plant spacing also helps discourage fungal diseases.

And of course if you aren’t worried about staying organic, there are chemical fungicides you can use.

How To Harvest Dried Beans In The Home Garden

And now the part that makes all of it worthwhile, getting to harvest your very own dried beans. You get this right you’re set for a year! You mess this up and you’ll starve to death. Or you’ll go to the grocery store. Yeah, probably that second option…

Anyway! Because you are wanting to harvest dried beans, a little before harvesting time stop watering the plants. This will encourage the pods to fully dry out.

If you live in a rainy area, try to get varieties that mature in 90-95 days. That way you can harvest them while it’s still warm and dry and before fall rains start coming in.

If you can’t leave the plant in the garden until all the pods are dry or if it is getting too cold you can pull the whole plant up by the roots and put it in a warm dry area to finish drying the pods.

There’s also a bit of a trick to finding just the right time to pick your beans. Aim to harvest them when most of the leaves are yellow and falling off. If you wait until all the beans are done some of the pods may shatter, or open on their own and you lose the beans inside. That would be sad.

If you are harvesting a small amount, pick the pods off and open them by hand. My kids think this is great fun and will happily shell beans for hours. But they are kind of weird.

If you have a lot of pods you can pile the plants onto a tarp and drive over them with a car. I’m sure my kids would love to drive over beans with a car too, but that’s definitely not going to happen. I’ll do the driving.

Next use a pitchfork to grab the plants and give them a shake so the beans fall onto the tarp. Pour the beans several times in front of a fan so that little bits of stray plant material blow away and you should be left with what is mostly just beans now. Go you!

Beans are super easy to store. They will keep in an airtight container for a year without any special effort on your part. They’ll keep in a non-airtight container too, they just won’t last as long. Fresh dried beans soften up really well when you cook them. If they’re too old they stay hard even when you boil them FOREVER.

And of course saving seeds from your homegrown bean plants is easy, because it’s exactly the same as harvesting them!

Alright, time for burrito night and ketchup baked beans!

Sources:
The Seasonal Homestead: How To Grow, Harvest, and Store Dried Beans
The Seed Ambassadors Project: We Love Growing Dry Beans, You Might Too!
Washington State University Extension: Bean: Spider Mites
University of California Integrated Pest Management: Spider Mites
University of Minnesota Extension: Twospotted Spider Mites In Home Gardens

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