I finally found a dry soup bean that will mature during the shorter Southwest Idaho warm crop growing season. Seeds of Change is a company that specializes in organically produced, open pollinated seed. They particularly strive to offer varieties that are not easily found, in an effort to preserve the array of plant life on the planet. This past year, I found tepary black beans in their catalog, thinking it might be the dry bean I had been looking for.
The goal was to plant the beans right when the warmer weather was beginning to dominate, around the beginning of June. I think I was a tad late, and they took quite a while to sporadically sprout. I tried to tend other parts of the garden and not worry about it. Then, one day I saw that the row was rather full of airy bean vines, wishing they had some place better to climb. They were twining around a few volunteer leeks that I had neglected to weed out and some dry dill plants.
When the bush beans and pole beans had blossoms, I checked the tepary beans, too. I only saw a few tiny flowers. I kept checking throughout the season, but never say much to give me hope. Then, one day, I noticed that the clump of vines hanging out of the raised bed was loaded with green pods.
Here I must admit that, by that time, I had actually forgotten exactly what I had planted there. The label was covered by the vines. I had also considered growing some edamame beans. Or was that last year?? You see how it is. Anyway, I saw that some of the beans were also dry, so I picked a bunch of each, intending to investigate later. I put the basketful in the greenhouse and went back to concentrating on tomatoes and broccoli.
When the first frost of the fall was forecast, I spent a few hours bringing in everything at risk, so I thought to take one last look at those beans. I was surprised to find rather a lot of dry pods full of purple beans. Hmm. I decided the best I could do at the moment was pull all the plants and put them on the patio. I figured the frost wouldn’t hurt the dry pods, but the melting moisture and mud in the morning might. I could pick them later.
This was actually a decent idea, however, I will want to come up with a faster way to pick and shell them. If beans had been a necessary part of our diet, we would have starved! It took quite a while to pull the pods off of the tangle of toughened vines, and even longer to pop those petit black beans out. It’s not that the beans were hard to get out of the pods, but the pods are small and there are just a few beans per pod. Also, the pods that were starting to curl would explode when they were touched, so it was best to hole those deep in the bowl. I did get some help from the couch crew. 🙂
My reward was about three cups of beautifully purple black, shiny beans. A couple of days later, I cooked about half of them with salt and minced onion. Finally, today, I took some left over chicken and fried it up with my beans. The chicken acquired a purple hue. As I ate, I kept tasting individual beans and found they tasted like: black beans! That was a relief.
There IS something very satisfying about eating things I have grown, but I have no illusions of being self-sustaining. I would not be doing anything else other than working in the garden. Nothing. When I wasn’t doing that, I’d be sleeping from exhaustion! Meanwhile, if I do decide to plant tepary beans again next year, I already know the beans are also viable seed. When I went back to the greenhouse to see if there were any good dry pods there, the moisture from the waterfall had turned them moldy and made many of them sprout.[hr]