A guide to growing purple bush beans for drying

We love a hearty bowl of bean soup and stew in the winter time and drying your beans at the end of the growing season is a good way to stock up on these pantry staples over the winter.

Last season we grew enough purple bush beans to eat fresh and also saved a bunch for drying to eat throughout the winter.

As we've got limited space, it's not enough to supply all our needs, but we like trying new things each year and thought we'd experiment with how much we could do.

We're fond of the purple bush bean variety as they require no staking - a bonus in the time-saving department.

More lifestyle:

We planted two long rows with beans 15 centimentres apart and transplanted them out to about 30 centimeters once they had germinated. (That step isn't necessary, but I wasn't sure on the viability of the seed as they were a bit old. Turned out their was nothing wrong with the seed).

SPROUTING GOOD: Growing and drying your own beans is worthwhile if you're interested in learning new skills and knowing where your food comes from. Pictures: Hannah Moloney.

SPROUTING GOOD: Growing and drying your own beans is worthwhile if you're interested in learning new skills and knowing where your food comes from. Pictures: Hannah Moloney.

We ate plenty of young, fresh purple beans in their early stages and then let the rest dry out on the bush until they were almost 100 per cent mature. You can tell this when the leaves start to turn yellow and brown off.

Ideally you want to leave the beans on the bush until you can shake the pods and hear beans rattling inside.

We left them in the ground as long as possible, but had to pull them to get the winter garlic crop planted, so some of the beans were still more purple than I was planning.

But it wasn't a problem, I simply left them in an airy brown box for a few weeks inside to dry out thoroughly before shelling them.

For a small batch like ours you could simply pop them into a pillow case and bash it around to shell the majority of the beans quickly. Or, like me you can do them one by one each night as a form of mediation to slow my busy brain down over a few evenings.

The next thing to do is a grading process to make sure there are no rotten or mouldy culprits slipping through.

We ended up having a pile for the chooks and a small bowl for eating right now - these ones were cracked or slightly damaged, but still tasted delicious.

And then into a glass jar they go for winter soups and stews.

Wondering whether it's worth your time to grow and dry your beans?

Well, considering how cheap organic beans are to buy from the local shop, it doesn't really make sense.

However, it is worth your time if you're interested in learning new skills, knowing where your food comes from and having beans that don't take as long to cook. All the good things.

Would we do it again? Absolutely - next season we're thinking of growing the borlotti bean for drying as it's larger size appeals to us. Here's to many wintery bowls of bean soup and stew!

  • Hannah Moloney and Anton Vikstrom are the founders of Good Life Permaculture, a landscape design and education enterprise regenerating land and lifestyles.
This story A guide to growing beans for the pantry first appeared on The Canberra Times.