I had a goal at the beginning of this summer where I thought it would be a really awesome idea to grow our own dry beans. I wanted to get at least a year’s supply. The idea of sustainability is very infectious for me. I love anything that hints at it. Make your own, do it yourself, minimalism, all of it is fascinating. However, I’ve started to realize that some of these ideas are a bit of a fantasy really. They sound so lovely, not to need to depend on anything but your own efforts, but in reality, the amount of work in doing things this way is tremendous. You would actually need you your whole family to quit their day jobs and come help do everything. And this is exactly what people used to do. Their job was survival, and working year to year to make sure there was enough food to eat and enough warm clothes and bedding and firewood for the winter.
This summer I did grow enough beans to last us at least a year if not more, but the process gave me mixed feelings about the loveliness and fantastic ideas I had when I started. We had a terrible season, with a lot of rain. It made planting happen late and we had to harvest the beans before they finished drying because they started molding on the plant. I didn’t have to worry about watering while they grew, but they never would have dried on their own. Below is a picture of our garden this year. The light coloured green is the beans that are starting to die off and right before we harvested.
The next photo is a trailer with all the bean plants pulled up by the roots and piled up.
The next task was to get those beans off the plants and spread out somewhere so they could finish drying. Thankfully I had some help from Darren’s Uncle, Mum and Brothers (Darren was at work). Then I had to shell the beans, put them in trays with screens for bottoms that Darren’s mum had lying around and allow them to finish drying. Lastly, I had to sort through all those beans and pick out any that had any mold on them, which was quite a few. This process took about four weeks and was grueling. This was mostly because I was shelling all the beans by hand, one by one. Near the end, I discovered that if I put a bunch of pods in a pillow case and banged it around, all the beans would just fall out. This made the last few beans finish up quite fast. Below is a photo of the beans being shelled (Darrens mum helped a little in the beginning) and the next photo is the beans finished.
I got 7 cups or 1.4 kg/3.1 lb of kidney beans, 33 1/2 cups or 6.2 kg/13.7 lb of black beans, and 41 cups or 7.1 kg/15.6 lb of pinto beans. Through it all, I feel that when we run out of beans, I will be buying more instead of planting more. I think it was a great experience, and I learned a lot, and feel like I gained skills that I would need if indeed we had to grow all our own food at some point. But for now, that effort probably would be better placed in growing other foods that are actually better off being homegrown and organic to avoid the chemicals they spray on them, such as potatoes and corn.
Below are some other things we grew despite the terrible weather. 2 canteloupe and one small watermelon (only one ripened).
We grew more, but maybe I’ll share that another time. All in all, growing a garden is very rewarding, but be very thankful we are privileged to live in a time and place where we can buy our food if we need to.
I’m so happy to be done looking at beans!!! Haha…