Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Seed Saving -- Heirloom Bush Beans

After eating beans for a few weeks from my early August planting of Aunt Joanie beans, I have let the rest of the bean pods mature on the plants. The ripe (old, pale, tough) pods are not good to eat, but the beans are good to save for planting next year.
Mature bean pods for seed-saving. PHOTO/Amygwh

Mature seeds set aside for drying. PHOTO/Amygwh

Beans for seed-saving need to be fully developed, which means they are at the stage when you might use them as dry beans in the kitchen. 

In drier climates, mature bean pods can be left on the plants until they are "rattle dry". The pods will be brown and brittle and easy to shell out.

Here in the Southeastern US, we are not having the kind of dry weather that allows for bean pods to dry to brittleness. Instead, we are having the kind of humidity and rain that encourages mildews and fungi.

That means I am shelling out leathery pods, not brittle ones, and the beans still are plump with moisture.

Also, some of the pods are mildewed.

When I shell out the mildewed pods and find  unblemished bean seeds, then those beans can be saved for seeds. I don't save seeds that look infected or damaged, because I don't want to have my whole next crop be ruined by a fungus.

I also don't save seeds from pods that contain fewer than three seeds inside. I don't want to encourage plants that produce puny bean pods, and I am pretty sure that if I saved seeds from a lot of short pods, soon enough my entire crop would mostly have short pods.

Diseased seeds will not be saved. See the spots? PHOTO/Amygwh
Before storing the bean seeds for planting in another season, they need to be very dry. I leave the seed beans out on the counter to dry for several days (or more) until they are so dry that one hit by a hammer shatters instead of smashes.

As they dry, these beans will get smaller, and they also will turn to a gentle tan color. They really are beautiful beans!

When the seed-beans are very dry, I will make an envelope for them, label with the season they were grown in (Joanie Beans, Aug-Oct 2017), then store them in one of my airtight containers in the fridge. Next year, or even five or six or more years from now, these seeds will still be good for planting.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...