Cappers Farmer Blogs > Old Dog, New Tricks

Dried Beans - Sustainability for the Gardener and Life

Mary ConleyDon’t you just love surprises?! We had one today, but first I want to tell you about a surprise that happened several years ago. I was scanning through the newest country magazine, and it asked for stories about outhouses for a future publication. I had a lot to do that day, but quickly wrote about my experience as a child, found a photo of me, and sent them off in the mail. Then I headed for the grocery store and never gave the article another thought. Imagine my surprise a few weeks later when I received an extra magazine and a gift for my submission! I was really excited as it was the first thing I had ever submitted that was published. Forgetfulness was the center of my surprise again, today.

Going back in time, our son, Todd, lived on our little farm for about three years, and he liked to experiment. He took Nancy’s bag of 10 (I think) bean soup mix and sorted them out so he could plant a few of each type to see if they would grow. He found all but one of the varieties, but as they grew he realized he had them all. That fall, he simply pulled up the bean plants, filled about three trash cans, and put them in the shop. Then he left them there. Forever. After all, who wanted to shell all those beans?

Larry doesn’t like messes, and he said to me several times, “What are we going to do with those trash cans of beans Todd left? I would like to get them out of there.” So, this fall, I broke off a few pods, shelled them, and brought the beans back to our city home where I tried MY experiment. First I soaked them for a few hours, then put them in a wet paper towel inside a sandwich bag, and on top of the fridge. My last step was to forget them.

Paper towel

We went to the farm for a few days, came home and got busy. This morning as Larry was hugging me, “What was that in my line of vision on top of the fridge?” I had no idea, and of course Larry wouldn’t know.


You guessed it! So, I opened the bag and found sprouts all tangled and twisted together, and in a fury to get out!

Spread out

After spreading them, I found a few had molded, but the viable percentage was very high.


A closeup of something truly amazing.

So, now we all know that dried beans can be stored out in a shed through years of hot summers and freezing winters, and they will still grow! What a plan!

One of my favorite quotes which I’ve used before and probably will in the future was written by Harry Kemp, “The poet of the dunes” from Province Lands Cape Cod.

Each Day

Each day we die a little more;
Stale custom takes its toll:
It is the Unexpected Thing (yes, surprises!)
That brings life to the soul.