Dry Beans

The dry beans were just about the last thing to go in the garden this year.  With the recent stretches of cooler weather, I wanted to make sure that the ground was warm enough for these babies to germinate.  It would be sad (and a waste) to put these beautiful beans in the ground only to have them turn to mush in cold, wet soil.

I planted two varieties this year: Cherokee Trail of Tears (saved seed from last year) and Good Mother Stallard (pictured above).  Both are pole varieties.
Before planting, I poured the beans out into half-pint jars and filled them with water to soak for about an hour.  I normally don't soak beans or peas before planting them to speed up germination (they usually do just fine on their own) but there are a couple of reasons why I did with my dry beans.  First, it was recommended for both these varieties, and my first-hand experience doing this with the Cherokee Trail of Tears last year convinced me that it was a good and necessary thing if the package specifically says so.  The second reason is that these beans are in the community garden plot, where moisture retention is more challenging and softening up the beans a little before planting would probably have some good benefit.

After the soaking, I planted the beans around each bean support (there will be additional twine added between the bamboo poles as the beans grow).  I planted two towers of Cherokee Trail of Tears (I really want a good harvest of black beans this year!) and one tower of Good Mother Stallard.  Beans are self-pollinating, so the short distance between the two varieties shouldn't be a problem for seed saving (it can happen, but it's not all that likely, so I'm taking my chances).
Dry beans are a great choice for a low maintenance addition to the garden.  After they are planted and you've provided them with something to climb up (most, but not all, dry beans are pole varieties), you don't really have to do anything outside of watering until they are ready to harvest at the end of the growing season, and even that process is incredibly easy. Also, they make really fantastic soup!

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