The Backyard

The Backyard

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Is Growing Dried Beans Worth It?

This is the first season I ever grew dried beans. My thought last winter was I wanted to grow as much of my own organic food as I could. It had to be enough that I could "survive" off of the food I grow and preserve from the back yard; thus, dried beans are a staple. I planted three rows of dried beans -- black, white cannelli, and tiger (like a kidney with a cute little stripe). I also had Kidney beans to plant, but ran out of space so they'll wait until next year (I won't waste the seed). Growing was easy -- all beans are easy to grow. Harvesting was questionable. I read that you can just leave the pods on the plant until they are dry. I clearly left them on too long because the tiger beans nearly all started to resprout (wet season) so I only got about a cup of tiger beans. The remainder I picked and left sit in a basket in their pods until this winter to start shelling. Thanksgiving weekend marked the first bean-pod shelling session. The cannelli beans were up first. After the sprouted seeds and rotted seeds were ditched, I ended up with about 5 cups of dried beans. The black beans were a little more tolerable of the wet conditions and didn't resprout as much. Nearly 8 cups was the final tally of the negros frigoles. I spent about 12 hours total shelling these 12 cups of beans. Each pack of seeds cost approx $1.50 for two ounces. It costs about $4.00 to buy a pound of organic dried beans. So. The final verdict -- are they worth growing? If you are looking strictly at cost. Yes - it's obvious my $1.50 investment paid for itself tenfold or more. Count in my time to shell the beans? Absolutely not. Factor in the energy consumption to soak and cook those dried beans (vs buying a can of already cooked organic beans?) not sure on that one. Hubby claims they aren't worth the electricity to cook them - let the cost of the electric come out of someone else's pockets (but ultimately, we'd pay more for canned beans). I think I'd have to do more analysis on that one. In the long run, I think the bottom line is cost savings for organics so YES, I believe it's worth it and I'm growing them again next year. I'll need to come up with a better way to cook them to save electricity consumption. If only I had a woodstove....


DailySAHM said...

Gwen grew black beans and I apparently didn't let them dry properly. Although I followed the directions in my canning and preserving book to a T. Anyway, we opened the container up to cook them and they were moldy. Bummer.

Chili said...

That sucks. Try, try, again. Don't give up!