Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Saving Bean Seeds

This year, we had a bumper crop of pole beans that I grew on a tepee-like structure on the edge of the garden.  I was not very organized about letting some of the bean pods mature to save seeds, but when I went to cut down the vines, I was pleased to see many pods near the base that I had missed, leaving me with lots of seed for next year.

Saving bean seeds is one of the easiest ways to start saving seed for your next garden, thus preserving heirloom lines and saving you money.  For beans like this (either pole beans or bush varieties), simply wait until the seeds are mature inside the pod.  You can tell because you will be able to both see and feel the bean seeds as "bumps" in the pod.  At this stage, some people call these beans "shellies" or "shell-outs."

Ideally, you harvest your shellies when the pod is dry, but I had to take a few handsful when they were still green and let them dry on the kitchen counter.  When they are dry, pop open the pods and pop out the seed.

Bonus tip:  When you cut down your bean vines, don't pull up the roots; cut the vines off at the soil line.  The roots of legumes like beans and peas fix nitrogen in the soil in little nodules on their roots.  Leaving the roots in the soil means richer soil next year.

The Analysis
Fast:  Just as fast as harvesting beans to eat!

Cheap:  Saving your own seed will save you the seed cost of your crop next year.

Good:  Saving seed also helps us preserve biodiversity of garden crops, as you will be continuing a line of heirloom seeds that slowly becomes adapted to your microclimate.
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