Saturday, August 31, 2013

Beans, Beans, Beans experiment Results 2013

This heat has put a rather serious hold on my outdoor activities the last few days. It's about all I can do to go out and get some watering done, pick a few things and then maybe lounge in the shade if I haven't already ran for the AC.

Hey I got it right now I might as well use it :)

Oh this heat is also good for one other thing. Rendering more bees wax. I was about out after getting all those new frames put together as I like to give them a good thick coat of bees wax to entice the girls to building them out. I had about a gallon of frozen wax cappings left over from harvesting some honey and since I render my wax with a solar melter this heat is the perfect time to get it done so I have enough for Winter.

Anyway my frequent heat breaks work well for bean collection times as well. I venture out into the heat and sunlight long enough to clip off the dried pods and then retreat into the shade to remove the little dried globs of beany goodness. To tell you the truth if I had other activities to pursue I would put off the bean removal from their pods until it was raining or something but once it gets up to the 100 degree mark my brush busting, wood cutting etc. activities pretty much come to a stop.

This year I managed to get a pretty decent yield overall and after collecting up enough for next years planting I have been utilizing the simple method of storing this seasons bean harvest. Namely I am doing next to nothing except removing them from the pods and storing them in canning jars after they have dried on the vine. In the past I dried them in the sun or in the oven and then stored them and they kept fine for years however I questioned the actual need to do this step if they were sufficiently dried on the vine so as a continuation of my bean breeding and experimentation I am going to see if this year's harvest will remain edible until next year. My theory is that in a grid down situation most of your harvest will be devoured within the year anyway.

Dried beans on average contain about 250 calories per cup after being soaked and cooked. On their own it would take about five cups a day to make the recommended calorie intake of a person per day but also would not create a perfect protein nor provide all the other vitamins and nutrition needed. However as a base beans will get you a long way and lend themselves well for other things to be added especially dried or canned meats and such.

In a long term survival situation I am considering about two cups of dried beans per person per day as a good rule of thumb storage number. This equates out to 1 pound of dried beans per person per day if you buy em by the pound. By all the standard I have researched 1 quart of dried beans equals approximately 2 pounds or enough for one person for two days. That's alot of beans.

Just from the yields I am seeing this year I am estimating that 30 bean plants are producing enough beans to last one individual for two weeks on a solid two cup a day ration. Extrapolating that out puts us at 60 plants per month or a whopping 720 plants needed for an entire years worth of bean harvest per person and this has been a good year for bean production. I get about 20 plants per trellis without over crowding too much meaning I would need 36 trellis per person as well and at least (I am guessing here) about a full acre of land.

In a pinch I would more than likely utilize Sunflowers as makeshift trellis as well. The natural trellis experiment for this year actually worked very well to be honest. Even when the seed heads began sagging and bringing several of the Sunflowers down but enough remained to allow the pole beans to grow and prosper.

Again this has been a high yield year as my original estimate from four years ago with a good sized buffer resulted in approximately 1200 bean plants per person per year. I believe no small part of this increased yield is also due to my breeding program that is tailoring a pole bean variety that responds well to our local conditions.

One of these days I am going to count the number of beans per cup I have stored to get an approximate amount of how many saved beans I need to hold back to be able to plant that many seeds in the Spring.

We certainly don't want to dip into our replacement stock now do we?

Think about these numbers a bit and then realize what it will actually take to live self sufficiently. My new estimates put a minimum of 720 plants per person and I wouldn't want to hedge my bets on anything less than 1000 and that is figuring a minimum of only 500 calories, or not even half the recommended daily intake of 1200 calories per day per person. Also keep in mind this has been with pole beans that have a significant greater yield than the bush varieties but also requires the addition of the poles or trellis.

If we suffered a collapse this Winter I would be tilling up some hay field space next Spring and cutting a lot of sturdy poles.

Keep Prepping Everyone!!!


  1. Last year during the drought and ridiculous heat I set up a kiddy pool slightly above the garden and filled it with well water. After a quick dip in the pool I could work for about 30 minutes before I needed to hit the pool again. Worked pretty well even at 110°F.

    As the pool heated up I drained it into the garden so no waste, though the garden burned up anyway. The pool would stay cool for about 4 days. however, that increased to about a week and a half after I strung a tarp over it to block the sun.

    Only real drawback was it was the temptation to say to hell with the chores and just sit in the pool. Things slowed down considerably; yet, It allowed a good amount of work to be done considering the circumstances.


    1. Dan - LOL sounds like a wonderful idea. You're right though that heat really slows a person down and hits me hard in the motivation spot as well.

  2. Wait a minute! I thought you'd be bereft and crying over my departure so I made another post. Now I'm going to see if you even show up! Drats.

  3. Keep an eye on your beans as I shelled some last year and stored them in mason jars and found later that every jar molded. It could just have been our humid conditions here. I really don't know what happened other than the beans just didn't dry enough even after I let them set for a week or so after shelling. I imagine your humidity will be lower and you will have success but watch them for awhile.

    1. SF - I don't know about humidity ours around here always seems to be off the chart even with no rain. I haven't yet seen any of my stored beans get mold but this is the first year I have not given them an extra drying period in the oven or solar box after shelling.

      We will see.

  4. I am trying to get over my dislike for beans. Except green beans. I could eat those all day.
    I know though I need to learn to like them because when it officially hits the fan.. one day they could save my life.
    Reading "One Second After" for the second time now, really puts it all in to perspective.

    1. JuGM - I don't know why but around here beans are about the least pest bothered thing I plant. They are harder to weed than other plants and do not defend their ground as well in that regard but I rarely lose much to pests. I also never see any diseased or fungus covered bean plants. My guess is beans will become the number one survival food I plant when it all goes South.

  5. I tried beans two years ago, but the sprouts kept getting eaten up.

    Calorie count adjusts for physical activity, and also the amount of energy that your body uses to stay warm.


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