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Dry Bean Question

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

I grew a 22' long row of Kentucky Wonder Pole Beans this year, and they were great. They bore continuously from June until I finally quit picking them about a month ago. We had all the green beans we wanted to eat, freeze, and give away, all season.

Now the bean row has been nipped a couple of times by nighttime frosts, and I've planned to harvest what's on there, shell them out of the pods, and eat them as dry beans. The seed catalogs say Kentucky Wonder has very good flavor as a dry bean, too. Now that the leaves are withered, you can see I've got a LOT of bean pods to pick and use.

But, the pods are still green and leathery, and the beans inside are soft. They would be impossible to shell this way. Question: Should I pick the pods and put them in buckets or sacks to dry, OR should I let them dry on the plants before picking? Dry beans are so cheap at the store, I've never bothered to harvest beans this way before - but since we've got these now I'd like to try them.


This message was edited Nov 1, 2013 3:26 PM

Thumbnail by Ozark
Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Should time permit, drying on the plants is best. Should a freeze occur while they are in that half ripe state, it can affect the flavor, so I would resort to picking and drying just before a freeze is predicted.

Augusta, GA(Zone 8a)

Should time permit, drying on the plants is best. Should a freeze occur while they are in that half ripe state, it can affect the flavor, so I would resort to picking and drying just before a freeze is predicted.

Contra Costa County, CA(Zone 9b)

Ditto Farmerdill
Ditto Farmerdill

Either way, when the pods are dry enough to shatter then the beans are dry and ready to harvest.
Save the beans from the healthiest plant for next season's garden.

Ozark, MO(Zone 6a)

Thanks, both of you. That's what I'll do.

Another "bean" question, I guess. Every one of my gardens for 30+ years has included green beans, and I guess I've tried most of the most popular modern varieties - Tendergreen, Blue Lake, Contender, and lots more I can't think of right now. A few years ago it started hurting my back too bad to pick bush beans, so I went back to growing pole beans exclusively.

Lots of the modern varieties of green beans, both bush and pole beans, have been OK - but none have really had the flavor I remember from my grandpa's garden many years ago. They got rid of the "strings" all right, but all these beans remain round no matter how long they're cooked - and the ones I remember from my grandma's kitchen cooked down flat and the flavor was much, much better.

Also, the modern bean varieties I've tried seem to bear heavily all at once, then slow down after a few big pickings and quit long before the end of the season. If they were tomatoes, I'd call them "determinate".

This year I went back to the old Kentucky Wonder Pole Bean that I think my grandpa grew. Even so, I think it's changed from the 1950's - as every pod had a "string" back then, and these had very few strings. But we really liked Kentucky Wonder because they have that good flavor I remember, the pods cook down flat, and they bore throughout the season until frost. Each picking wasn't as large as the modern varieties yield at first, but they didn't quit - we had a steady supply of green beans for four months!

Am I right about that? Is Kentucky Wonder kind of "indeterminate", in that it bears throughout the season, and are more modern green beans more "determinate" with heavier pickings but for a shorter time? Also, what do you think about them cooking down flat while more modern beans remain round (and taste like supermarket canned beans)? How about those strings? I don't think I'm just imagining that Ky. W. used to have them 50 years ago.

Jonesville, SC(Zone 7b)

Hey Ozark. I think I have read that the 'pole' beans and 'runner' beans bear throughout the season more like indeterminates, whereas the bush beans are more determinate in their growth and production. I have never grown the KY wonders so I cannot comment on their growth or strings. However, I can tell you that I have had a very hard time cooking down Blue Lake Bush and Contenders after we have canned them. However, we don't use the pressure canners we use the water bath method. It takes forever for them to soften up and cook down after canning using my method.

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