The first year I had a vegetable garden, I grew three kinds of beans: yellow beans, green beans, and some fancy speckled beans that were meant to be harvested as dried beans. When the growing season had finished and all the work was done, I ended up with a double handful of dried beans I then spent hours and hours turning into a single, modestly sized batch of baked beans. It seemed like an awful lot of work for a small quantity of beans, so the next year I didn't bother.
But what goes around, comes around. This year, my third as a vegetable gardener, I was interested to see how much protein I could get from the garden. As Carol Deppe says, all those salad greens are pretty, but they don't provide many calories or much protein for seeing a family through the winter. So I planted quinoa (more on that in another post) and three kinds of beans for drying: Kenearly Yellow-Eye, Vermont Cranberry, and (to my amazement even today) garbanzo beans. I didn't devote a lot of space to them - I really just wanted to see if I could grow them successfully. So each variety got about 16 square feet of space.
Germination was great for all three. The Vermont Cranberry beans were the most vigorous, with much fuller and more robust bushes than the wimpy Kenearly Yellow-Eye beans growing right next door, and the beautiful but spindly looking garbanzo plants. And the yield was much better. There were more pods per plant, and more beans per pod. I ended up with about a pound of Vermont Cranberry beans, and about half that for each of the other two varieties. Not much, but not bad for an experiment. According to John Jeavons, the average yield per 100 square feet for dried beans is about 6 pounds, which means when it comes to Vermont Cranberry beans, I am perfectly average. [Apparently my perfectionist tendencies are leaking through: I can't just be average, I have to be perfectly average. Oh boy...]
I spent yesterday afternoon - a lovely warm, sunny fall afternoon - sitting on the porch swing shelling the beans that had been drying on the verandah for a few weeks, deriving productivity and yield formulas for my bean crop. And I discovered I had neglected one important equation...
Dried up bean leaves + stocking feet = mess.