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Shelling Beans

Stick-to-your-ribs Shelling or Dry Beans are used in cassoulet, goulash, ragout, salad, soup, stew and herbed concoctions in almost every ethnic cuisine. Two weeks prior to the last spring frost date, direct sow seed in a deeply dug, fairly fertile, sandy and well-draining bed. Grown like regular Green Beans, it is the curing on the vine, the drying process and the shelf-life that set Shelling Beans apart. Grow the plants until fully mature and keep them in the garden until all the leaves and pods are yellow, some may have already turned brown. Then, lift the entire plant. Do not worry about mild night frosts, but do harvest if a hard killing frost is predicted. If the Bean pods have not fully matured prior to lifting the plants, hang the plants upside down in a dry area with good air circulation. Once the pods are completely dried, gather the plants together and thresh them on a large sheet or tarp. Create your own harvest dance and stomp on them until all of the Beans have separated from their pods. Winnow the Beans from the chaff on a windy day or with a fan until everything has blown away from the seeds. High in starch, protein and dietary fiber, Shelling Beans are an excellent source of Vitamin B6, iron and potassium. Store them in a cool, dry spot; presoak in tepid water overnight and rinse prior to use in savory, slow-cooked dishes.

Average seed life: 3 years.

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Gardening Tips

Just because legumes are known to improve the soil in which they grow, it does not mean that they needn't be planted in good soil themselves. This is especially true of Beans. If you dig in well-rotted manure at the time of planting, your bean plants will grow better, be more free from disease and give you a better yield.

Beans Sowing Instructions
Planting Depth
: 1"
Row Spacing: 18"-36"
Seed Spacing: 3"-4"
Days to Germination: 6-10 days
Germination Temperature: 60°-80°F

Beans love sun and well-draining, fertile soil. Plant Beans when the soil has warmed to 60°F and all danger of frost has passed. Amend the soil as needed with organic fertilizer, compost and/or well-aged manure. Cool, wet weather may necessitate a second planting: bean seeds rot in cold, damp soil. After planting, do not water until the sprouts emerge, unless it is very hot and dry. After emergence, and throughout the season, avoid watering the foliage. Water as needed by soaking the soil around the Beans and fertilize with kelp or fish emulsion as needed.

For Pole Beans, provide support with rough poles, teepees, netting or a trellis. Harvest when the Beans are young, slim and on the small side for the best eating! It is vital to keep Beans picked regularly since seed formation slows and eventually halts production. Sow Bush Beans every 10 to 15 days until 2 months before the first frost date in the fall for continuous yields.

A mainstay of the kitchen garden, homegrown Beans outshine those that are store-bought in their delicious, just-picked flavor, crisp-tender texture and rich vitamin content.

Beans Show Their Colors
My favorite use for purple-podded Beans is to pick them while slim and tender, along with green and yellow ones, and arrange all three on a platter with a hummus dip.

Beans, Beans & More Beans

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