Thursday, August 15, 2013

Apocalypse Chow and the Bean Experiment

I haven't done one of these posts for a while. About two years ago I had a pretty large amount of canned and dried goods that were reaching their rotation date so I did a series of posts on what we made them into for our meals. Now however I am turning it around a bit and going to make some posts on what we did with our various garden produce and such.

The wife has a yummy smelling peach pie baking as I write this. As a matter of fact the smell of the peach preserving and cooking this afternoon drove me out of the house and into the shade outside removing the husks from pole beans.

I should have more than enough pole beans saved now to assure a suitable planting for at least the next two years so it is time to begin eating some these little wonders.

Pole beans in my opinion are the ultimate survival food for those of us in climates that are not suitable for rice production. Corn and Beans will be the staples of living if we ever were reduced to a local based agriculture once again and I have found nothing grows as well or is as forgiving as the pole bean.

For starters once you find a variety that grows well in your soil they are one of the most forgiving edibles when it comes to harvesting. I have allowed entire crops of my pole beans to simply dry on the plant and harvested them when ever I got around to it with brilliant results. We still have several quarts of beans I harvested after they had dried on the vine and then just stored them in quart canning jars in a dark place. They are still useable and edible. If you pick them before they are completely dry you can spread them out in the sun or even in an oven set on low (about 110 degrees or so) and then store them. If they get really hard they are still edible just grind em up.

Pole beans are also one the few crops that at least around here have very few pests that do them harm. There are certain beetles and such that will eat holes in the leaves and very rarely I find where some bug has burrowed into the pod and ruined a bean but by and large our beans suffer very little bug damage.

I have planted pole beans all over out in open areas around my bee hives just to see if they would grow and produce and never had one fail except under dry conditions. You could plant hundreds of pole beans around and then go back at the end of the season and still manage to harvest pods that had dried out weeks or months earlier.

The downside to pole beans is of course the time it takes to harvest and remove them from the pods. It takes hours of just sitting around breaking open pods to get even a quart or (gasp) half a gallon of beans. Yet the pods protect them so well you can harvest bunches of them and simply leave them in the pods hanging inside sacks and remove the pods all Winter long if you had to. They are great for taking breaks during those hot August and September afternoons sitting in the shade removing beans from the pods then throwing the broken pods into the compost bin.

The time has come to attempt another step in the on going Small-Hold Bean experiment. I have about two gallons of stored pole beans and a couple of quarts of stored black bush beans I am going to attempt to use up this weekend along with about a quart of freshly dried beans I harvested today. I also have a pound of ground lamb and a pound of ground venison harvested from the Small-Hold I will be making into chili with these beans. Add in fresh Small-Hold tomatoes and peppers and we may have us a 100% Small-Hold Apocalypse Chow meal.

We have used many of the beans in soups and such over the years but I have yet to find the actual shelf life of these beans. This year will mark the third year some of these beans have been stored and I am interested to see how they turn out.

In the case of a grid down situation I assure you I would be out planting about 2000 bean plants as soon as weather and the season allowed. They are that good of a producer if you don't mind the work.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. I like pole beans and they just look good in a garden. I planted the old McCaslin variety as it is an old favorite of this area though it didn't originate in VA. The bugs haven't bothered the pole beans as much as they did the bush varieties though in past years when it was drought conditions,the bug ravaged the poles. I can a lot of green beans and store dry beans in the refrigerator with the rice.

    1. SF - My pole beans are a special blend now. Over the years I grew these from several varieties and cross pollination with other beans until I got one that is just so hardy I don't even have to think about it anymore just plant and harvest. Around here you don't see many pole beans growing in gardens anymore. Not sure why.

  2. It is always very rewarding to make a meal of the items you have harvested with your own hands.

    1. Frank and Fern - Yes it is and this batch of chili I have planned will be 100% Small-Hold only as well. I just love that.

  3. Beans are a staple of life in the Third World. I think you did a good job of delineating the reasons why.

    I don't grow my own but I buy beans by the 50 pound sack and store them. I know pole beans are popular here because they are in just about every garden you pass as you drive down the road.

    1. HF - The problem with beans is they are so cheap most people don't bother with them anymore. I believe that is going to change very soon.

      As I said I don't see them growing here much at all in other peoples gardens. Alot of bush beans but few pole beans.

  4. hi! I grew some fantastic heirloom beans this year that my sister in Manitoba sent me :) I just picked all the last beans that were huge, not realizing that I should have left them on the plant to dry! I saved some seeds that she has sent me, but I was hoping to dry my own this year from the ones I grew. is there any way that I can still somehow save these beans??!?


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