Drinks Will Be Served


I’ve become very interested in growing beans and peas for soup in recent years.  They are just another example of something you think is just fine from the supermarket…until the day that you taste a homegrown variety.

Amplissimo Viktoria is a soup pea that makes amazing, creamy, sweet hummus. Sadly, I mopped up every last bit of my stock last year with homemade pita bread, and Fedco was sold out by the time I ordered this season, so I planted black garbanzos instead. 

True Red Cranberry is a pole bean whose seeds are truly beautiful–shiny, maroon, and bullet-shaped.  They have a fantastic flavor, hold their shape when cooked, and generally make for the most delicious chili ever. I did save a few dozen of these, and I’m glad, because the whole world was sold out of them this spring.

The only downside to growing legumes for drying is harvesting them. It means literally hours of fishing around yellowed old vines looking for dried pods so you can then pop their seeds out into a jar. I find that children, tragically, can almost never be bribed to do this job for me.

So I was very amused the other day as I was planting something new called Hutterite Dry Bush Bean to read the Seeds of Change package and see that they recommended dancing the seeds out. I think the package might have mentioned swirling a pillowcase full of pods over your head–or am I making this up?–but the website has a photo of somebody stomping on bean pods in a pan as if they were wine grapes. Seeds of Change then recommends separating seeds from broken pods with a box fan.

Swirling, stomping, blowing.  Clearly, another of those gardening jobs best done while stewed and preferably with equally silly friends.


  1. Oh yes dance away! My preferred method is to harvest them (haul out whole plant) at the near-dry stage, hang them up in the shed, then harvest the pods when they’ve dried and it’s the dead of winter and I have nothing better to do. I put the pods in an old sheet and dance on them. Take the sheet and a friend outside on a windy day and if you shake it up in the air just right you can winnow the beans from the dry chaff.

  2. I used to grow dried black beans every year. I stopped doing it because of the chore of harvest – and the ease of canned beans. I keep thinking more an more about it and really want to grow them again. I like the sound of the cranberry bean. My husband and I love chili. Does anyone else have any pole bean suggestions?

  3. Maybe I am odd, but I always found picking my beans to be sort of meditative. Mulching is the big chore…harvesting (even beans) is more relaxing to me.

  4. Oh, this brought back memories! My grandmother (in Ironton, MO) used to grow Horticulture beans – that is what they were called. They were a big shelling bean and they were SO good. They didn’t grow well in Florida, but my mom tried heroically for years to get them to grow. I’d forgotten all about them – maybe I ought to try some in my Maryland garden . . . . .

  5. I ordered some fabulous beans from Steve Sando at Rancho Gordo.com last spring. They were delicious, and I planted some in my garden as well — the white canellini runner beans were gorgeous and delicious. If you don’t have the space/inclination, I can’t reccomend Steve’s beans enough — he grows a gazillion kinds of heirlooms, and they arrive so fresh they hardly need soaking. Plus his website has recipes.

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