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Grow Some Bean Magic 🫘✨

Beans are more than just a staple in the pantry—they can inspire a reciprocal connection in the garden—even in small growing spaces! Timing and placement are essential, and now is the opportune moment to begin planting for a harvest that promises both abundance and flavor. Here's your guide to cultivating and savoring beans, with insights and recipes to really enjoy this versatile crop. But act swiftly—the planting window is open for just a few more weeks!

 

Growing Beans for Drying

Dry beans take a bit longer to grow, but they're worth the wait. The Lofthouse Landrace Dry Bean Mix, a webstore exclusive, is a stunning example. Created by the renowned seedsman Joseph Lofthouse, this mix boasts hundreds of varieties bred to mature quickly in cold mountain valleys. These beans are perfect for making chili, bean soup, or refried beans. You can enjoy them at various stages of growth, from fresh green beans right off the vine to fully dried beans. This is just ONE example of the dry beans we are grateful to offer. As with all beans, sow the seeds after the last frost and harvest in the fall for the best results.


Cultivating Appreciation

From the emergence of their large, welcoming leaves to the sudden transformation of delicate green pods. The large leaves pop up and thrive under the right conditions. The bean pods appear almost all of a sudden, small and green at first, then quite quickly, they grow into full-size pods, offering the possibility of a fulfilling meal (even if it’s a fresh green snack).


Dry beans, like a lasting relationship, require care and patience for a crop you want to enjoy in the winter. Though you can appreciate them in various stages:

  • Snap Bean Stage: Picked at the peak of crispness, these beans are delightfully fresh.
  • Green Shell Stage: Within the pod, the beans have reached full size, offering a unique texture and flavor, though not yet ready to keep through the winter.
  • Dry Bean Stage: The pods become crisp, with the beans inside hardening and drying, perfect for long-term appreciation.

Planting Tips for Beans

When to Plant:

  • Indoors: Mid-spring.
  • Outdoors: Late spring or early summer, after the last frost. In regions with long summers, plant in June for a fall harvest. Select shorter days-to-maturity varieties for shorter growing seasons.

Soil Requirements:

  • Well-drained, fertile soil with a pH of 6.0–6.8.
  • Consistent moisture is crucial. Add compost and nitrogen if needed.

Planting Method:

  • Sow seeds 1–2 inches deep, 2–3 inches apart, in rows 18–24 inches apart.
  • Thin to 6 inches apart in each row.
  • Provide supports like bamboo canes for climbing beans.

Watering:

  • Regular watering is essential.

Harvesting:

  • Allow pods to fully mature on the plants, then harvest once dry in late summer or early autumn. Enjoy beans fresh off the vine, or let them dry for winter storage.

Growing Beans in Containers

For those with limited space, beans can be grown in containers. A 5-gallon bucket is perfect for 3 bush bean plants or 2 pole bean plants.

Container Tips:

  • Bush Beans: Pot diameter of at least 12 inches.
  • Pole Beans: Depth of 18 to 24 inches to accommodate longer roots.

Seasonal Planting

Now is the LAST WINDOW in many parts of the Intermountain West to plant beans, squash, corn, and other warm-season crops. Early summer is also ideal for starting fall crops like broccoli, cabbage, kale, and onions. Don’t miss out on seasonal sales for your gardening needs.

 

Highlight: Jacob’s Cattle Bean

Also known as the Appaloosa Bean—a variety of Phaseolus vulgaris, is an heirloom shelling bean native to North America. Known for its fruity, rich, and nutty flavor, it holds its shape well during cooking, making it perfect for soups and stews. This bean variety—a staple in Native American agriculture—is available from heirloom seed suppliers for home cultivation.

Versatile Beans in the Kitchen

Beans are incredibly versatile and can be used in soups, stews, casseroles, chili, and of course, the proverbial pot of baked beans. As a bonus, they are nutritional powerhouses, exceptionally high in fiber and protein.

Calypso Bean Stew (from Food Network)

  • Ingredients: Olive oil, onion, garlic, bay leaf, ham hock, calypso beans (or black-eyed peas), ground cumin, chipotle peppers, poblano chiles, tomatoes, cilantro, salt, pepper, lime wedges.
  • Instructions: Cook beans ahead of time to preferred tenderness—strain but reserve liquid (sometimes known as bean liquor). Sauté ingredients, add beans and spices, cover with the bean liquor and additional water to the desired consistency. Cook until flavors blend to taste—adjust seasoning if needed, and serve with lime wedges.

Calypso Beans with Ginger and Black Mustard Seeds (from Food52)

  • Ingredients: Calypso beans, onion, ginger, garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, ground ginger, mustard powder, coconut milk, water, salt, ghee or butter, black mustard seeds.
  • Instructions: Cook beans ahead of time to preferred tenderness. Drain and blend these with spices and coconut milk. Prepare tarka* with ginger and mustard seeds, and combine.

With these tips and recipes, you can enjoy the rich flavors and nutritional benefits of homegrown beans. Happy gardening!


*A method in Indian cooking of tempering spices in oil—adding a layer of flavor and texture to your dish.