Garden Guide: How to Grow Dry Beans & Peas

Dry beans are a great source of protein and are very easy to grow, but for some reason many gardeners tend to shy away from trying them. Here are some tips for growing your own dry beans & peas!

Did you know that dry beans and peas provide as much protein per serving as other protein powerhouses, such as eggs and cottage cheese, along with plenty of fiber and an array of minerals?

They are also very easy to grow, with relatively few pest problems, and they fix nitrogen in the soil, so you can rotate them in your garden to help the crops that come after them. When shelled and stored properly, they can keep their nutrient value almost indefinitely, so you can enjoy your harvest for months or even years to come!

While you can dry and eat the seeds from any green bean or garden pea, there are specific varieties that are grown for drying, which tend to have higher and more flavorful yields.

In most climates, you will want to plant these crops a bit later than most of your summer vegetables, so they will finish in the dryer fall weather.

Try adding some of these options to your garden next year, and become a more self-sufficient eater!

Choosing varieties that suit your climate is key to growing dry beans and peas. Note that all dry bean and pea varieties can be harvested and cooked fresh as the seeds approach ripeness, or you can leave them to mature into their dry, easy-to-store form.

Soup peas (Pisum sativum) are a cool-weather crop cultivated like green shell peas, but starchy soup peas are smooth rather than wrinkled. These frost-tolerant peas should be planted quite early, in cool spring weather…. Soup peas grow best in cool northern climates, in slightly acidic to neutral soil with a pH from 5.5 to 7.0.

Traditional dry beans (Phaseolus vulgaris) look and grow like green snap beans, but the pods quickly become too tough and stringy to eat…. These and other true dry beans grow best in near-neutral soil with a pH between 6.5 and 7.0.

Many gardeners prefer to grow pole-type dry beans, which are grown up trellises or sown among knee-high sweet corn or sunflowers….

Runner beans (Phaseolus coccineus) produce sweeter immature pods compared with other dry beans, and the plants’ showy flowers entice bumblebees. Runner beans benefit from cool nights and are easier to grow than lima beans in moderate climates. The dry seeds are big, colorful and meaty, resembling lima beans but possessing a sweeter flavor…. Runner beans prefer soil with a near-neutral pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

Lima beans (Phaseolus lunatus) thrive in warm, humid weather and are often resistant to pests that bother regular beans…. Dried limas are easier to shell than tender green ones. Lima beans favor slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.8 and 6.5.

Cowpeas or crowder peas (Vigna unguiculata), collectively known as “Southern peas” or “field peas,” originated in Africa and have retained their need for warm weather. Glossy cowpea leaves are of no interest to common bean pests, and the purple blossoms set fruit even in humid heat, making this crop ideal for areas with hot, humid summers…. Cowpeas grow best in slightly acidic soil with a pH between 5.5 and 6.5.

Tepary beans (Phaseolus acutifolius) are native to the Southwest and Mexico, where they have been part of the traditional diet for thousands of years. Tepary beans are planted during the summer rainy season. They have smaller leaves than regular beans and adapt well to the alkaline soils found in many arid climates. Tolerant of heat and drought, tepary beans can produce well in any climate that has plenty of late-summer warmth and limited humidity…. Tepary beans grow best in a neutral to alkaline soil with a pH near 7.0.

For tips on specific varieties, as well as planting instructions, check out the full article at Mother Earth News



Rose S.

An avid gardener since childhood, I love sharing my passion for gardening with others! I have gardened in a number of different climates and settings, from large fenced garden plots, to tiny patio and container gardens, and I firmly believe that everyone can learn to grow at least some of their own food - no matter where you live. Growing your own food can help you take control of your own health and food supply, and there has never been a better time to get started!

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