Growing Beans: Sustainable Protein


| 8/11/2014 9:55:00 AM


Four years ago I began experimenting with the idea of growing as much of my family's food as possible, which would include growing my own protein on a small scale. I live in Tennessee, definitely the south, and we are blessed with a long growing season, and pretty dependable rains. You really can raise enough food to feed a family on a relatively small piece of land. I started by thinking about what types of foods people in the South ate before mass transportation made it possible to ship food from all over the world, something that will become less and less affordable in the decades to come. I also thought about what were the staple foods that Native Americans relied on to feed themselves from this land, and the answer became obvious: beans and corn. I remembered back to the late '70's, when I lived for two years among the Mayan people in the highlands of Guatemala. There, black beans and maize are still the primary sustenance for most families.

Over the last several years I have had successful harvests of pinto, kidney, navy and black beans. Last year I planted two rows 75 feet long and harvested nearly 30 pounds of dry beans.

rows of black, pinto and kidney beans

black beans in their green stage

The young black beans start our crisp and green.



Because of the humidity and summer rains in Tennessee, on many years I cannot let the pods stay on the bush to dry because often they will either mold or begin to sprout. I also want to get them picked and off the vine as soon as possible to avoid losing them to insects (boring beetles) or filed mice and rats.

TheGardeningLady
8/11/2014 1:46:04 PM

What temperature do you set your dehydrator to dry beans?






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