How to Grow Your Own Dry Beans

Growing your own dry beans is a great way to have fresh and organic dry beans on hand year-round. Beans are an easy crop to grow and there are numerous varieties you can experiment with. Let’s take a look at how to get started.

Choosing a Variety

Beans come in hundreds of different heirloom and modern varieties, all with unique flavors, colors and shapes. One of the best ways to find good varieties is to visit your local farmers’ market, seed swap or garden center and ask which types of seeds work well in your area. Seed catalogs and online suppliers should also have a selection of beans appropriate for drying. In addition, chat with other gardeners to find out what’s been working for them, and maybe ask if they could share a handful of their favorite beans you can plant.

1. Bush Beans

If you live in a colder climate, bush beans are often your best choice because they have a shorter time to maturity compared to pole beans. The plants typically only grow around two to three feet (60 to 90 centimeters) tall and can stand on their own without support.

Some fast-maturing varieties to watch out for include ‘Jacob’s Cattle’, ‘Vermont Cranberry’ or ‘Black Valentine’. In climates with a longer season, ‘Calypso’, ‘Anasazi’ or Soldier beans are classic varieties that produce well.

2. Pole Beans

Pole beans typically have a longer growing season than bush beans. They will also continue to produce beans for a longer time, unlike bush beans that often mature all at once. Pole beans require some form of support, such as a trellis, a classic pole “teepee” or a fence. Another option is to grow your pole beans on the stalks of neighboring corn or sunflowers.

The varieties ‘Good Mother Stallard’, ‘Czar’ or Romano-type pole beans all make excellent dry crops.

Related: How & Why to Participate in a Seed Swap

Dry beans in jars

Planting Your Seeds

If your growing season is fairly short, it’s best to plant your beans soon after the risk of frost has passed in spring. If you have a longer season, you can plant beans after your spring crops are harvested and the weather has warmed up. A sunny location is ideal.

It can be beneficial to cover your seeds with Rhizobium bacteria before planting them. You can buy Rhizobium at most garden centers, and the bacteria will help the developing bean plants fix nitrogen in the soil.

All beans prefer direct sowing in the soil. In colder climates, you can plant your seeds on raised beds to capture more heat. Plant seeds one inch (2.5 centimeters) deep in your soil with one to two inches (2.5 to 5 centimeters) between the seeds, giving larger seeds more space. Then, space additional rows at least one foot (30 centimeters) apart.

If you’re growing pole beans on corn or sunflowers, plant the bean seeds directly at the base of the support plants when they’re about one foot (30 centimeters) tall.

Mulch the soil after sowing to retain moisture.

Care Tips

Beans do best in a moderately rich soil, but they can also grow in fairly degraded soils due to their ability to fix their own nitrogen. This also means they do not need extra fertilizer while growing.

Water the developing plants regularly, especially as they’re forming pods. Make sure the plants dry out in between waterings to prevent mold and bacteria problems. As the plants mature, they become more drought tolerant and you can cut back on water.

Remove weeds as the seedlings are growing, although the bean plants effectively shade out any weeds as they get bigger.

Related: How to Make Beans and Grains More Digestible

Beans in pod

Harvesting

Your beans are ready to harvest when the pods look dry. You’ll also likely be able hear the beans rattling inside when you shake them.

Keep in mind that beans are very sensitive to frost, so make sure you harvest them well before a potential frost date. If your beans aren’t ready yet and frost is expected, you can cut the plants early, hang them in a protected area, and let the pods continue to mature.

If your pods have matured well on the plants, you should be able to simply pull up the plants and harvest the beans. When you only have a small patch of beans, the easiest way to get the beans out of the pods is by hand. You can squeeze open the pods as you’re harvesting the plants and collect the beans in a container, or you can pick the pods off the plants and set them aside to open later.

Another option is to hold the plant inside a barrel and bang it against the sides to get the beans out. If you grow a large area of beans, you may want to invest in professional threshing equipment.

To clean the beans, you can either run the beans over a screen or use a hair dryer to blow off any debris.

Storage

Check that your beans are completely dry before packing them for storage. When you bite a bean, it should feel hard. If the beans still have some softness, spread them out in a warm area and let them dry longer until they’ve hardened.

When the beans are ready, pack them into airtight containers and store them in a dark place. They’re best used within a year. You can keep them longer, but they may become too dry and difficult to cook.

Related: 7 Ways to Avoid Gas from Beans

Bean Recipes

Looking for ideas on how to enjoy your harvest? Check out some of these delicious recipes.

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68 comments

Alexandra Richards

Thank you.

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Paula A
Paula A2 months ago

thank you for sharing

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Renata B
Renata B2 months ago

Thank you. I think I need more competence (and time) before trying this, although it's very tempting.

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Elizabeth M
Past Member 2 months ago

awesome thanks for this!

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Sophie A
Sophie A2 months ago

Thank you

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Alexandra Richards
Alexandra Richards2 months ago

Thank you.

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Winn Adams
Winn Adams3 months ago

Thanks

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Chad Anderson
Chad Anderson3 months ago

Nice.

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Thomas M
Thomas M3 months ago

thank you

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John W
John W3 months ago

Thanks

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