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Beans for Us and Beans for the Chooks

The bean jars are filling up nicely, but with the wet weather lately, today’s pick was this much for us:

And this much for the chooks:

I love it that they aren’t wasted.  Along with some greens and house scraps, this will feed my chooks for the week. Though they are very spoiled having me shell them for them! Mostly I just pull the whole vines down at the end of their life, and either throw them holus bolus to the chooks, or just move the chooks onto the bed to clean it up ready for the next planting.  They can shell their own.

Beans are so productive. Green beans all summer and dried beans all year, all from just a few dozen seeds planted each month in spring and summer. I have any number of bean recipes – they’re a staple in our household – a good, filling, low GI, high protein, food that can carry a lot of flavours.

And the high protein chook food is a bonus.


{ 11 comments… add one }
  • celia February 9, 2012, 3:43 pm

    We plan to plant beans half the year and peas the other half! The wet weather has played havoc with the beans in the garden – a lot of them are going brown and a bit rusty – but we have one more batch which is yet to flower, so I’m hopeful of getting some last minute sun. I love having chooks – thank you so much for convincing us to get them! 🙂

  • Linda February 9, 2012, 3:48 pm

    Yes, that second photo is the beans that have sprouted or started to go mouldy from too much wet. Luckily the chooks don’t mind!

  • Lorna February 9, 2012, 5:51 pm

    Hello Linda,
    I’ve been following your blog for a few months now and really enjoy your posts! I’m green with envy over your growing season 🙂
    I’ll be moving to a zone 4 Northern latitude soon and would really like to grow beans for dried bean/winter storage. I’ve found a few open pollinated varieties that should grow well in my area; I’d like to save seeds for subsequent years but I’m wondering if I can plant them together or will I need to be concerned about cross-pollination and not getting the same beans the second time around?!
    p.s. What is that wonderful speckled bean in your picture? I think even my little boys who don’t like beans would try that one!

  • greenfumb February 9, 2012, 10:27 pm

    At least half of my drying beans have ended up sprouting on the vine this year, the weather’s been so bad. Up til now I’ve just thrown them in the vege patch and let them sprout but soon it will be too late for that. I’m hoping to get one more crop of my beloved rattlesnakes before the autumn really sets in. Good Luck with yours.

    My Purple King seeds have turned white – can’t remember if they were white when I planted them, what do you think?

  • Linda February 10, 2012, 8:48 am

    My Purple Kings have seeds that are pale pink when first shelled, but turn darker as they dry. This pic has them at half dry. When I cook them they go a bit darker again. I’ve just planted another round of beans, and plan to get another crop in before winter.

  • Linda February 10, 2012, 8:57 am

    Hi Lorna, the multicoloured bean is Madagascar bean. It’s a subtropical perennial, and one of my favourites. Not so heavy bearing as some varieties, but reliable and beautiful beans (though they do lose the mottling and go all pink when cooked). They go really well in Minestrone. Bean flowers are self pollinating, so you don’t have to go to much effort to keep varieties pure. So long as they’re not actually mixed up, they should breed true.

  • cecilia gunther February 10, 2012, 11:29 am

    I also wish we could grow all year round. Aren’t chooks great for the clean up, i call them my housekeepers! They are even my manure spreaders!! c

  • sara stevens February 10, 2012, 3:01 pm

    Hi Linda – This is the first year I have successfully grown beans. I have never dried them before. I have some on the vines that are Extremely mature (missed picking them) – can I pick these and shell and dry them, or do I need to pull out the whole vine and dry them this way (as seems to be recommended by many sites. Thanks for your help – LOVE your work. We have been running a successful mandala system for 3 years now just out of Ballarat (modified for our climate).

  • Linda February 10, 2012, 3:09 pm

    Hi Sara, I pick all the early beans green, which encourages the vines to flower and set again. When I miss picking them, I just let them fully mature on the vine, then pick them at the yellow stage. That’s just to avoid the risk of rain and mould. If I miss that, and pick them fully dried it’s fine. I shell them and leave them in a baking tray on our verandah to dry, then when they are too hard to leave an imprint from a fingernail (or teeth), I store them in a jar. When the vine is finished bearing and starting to die off, I pick all the last of the beans that look worth shelling, then pull the vines down for the chooks to clean up the last of the. If I leave beans to fully mature, the vine usually doesn’t flower again, but if it does, I’d let it go and get another harvest out of it.

  • Neil Whitelaw December 8, 2018, 9:08 am

    Dear Linda

    It sounds like you are feeding the chickens raw beans is that right. I was thinking of using the 3 sisters method of growing Corn, Beans and Pumpkin https://www.reneesgarden.com/products/native-american-three-sisters-garden however feared my free ranging Silkies might get sick from the beans. Which varieties have you fed raw Madagascar, Purple King and Rattlesnake. Many thanks. Cheers

  • Linda December 8, 2018, 11:49 am

    Hi Neil, I’ve fed all kinds of beans raw and never noticed any ill effects. It wasn’t until I saw your comment that I’d ever even investigated it. Now you’ve had me all morning on Google Scholar figuring it out! It does seem that Phaseolus species beans are not good for chooks if they are fed raw, and as a large part of their diet. It’s not that they will drop dead, but the beans have a trypsin inhibitor that makes the protein unavailable, and various other phytates that aren’t good for them. From what I read, cooking or sprouting solve the problem. I’ve probably never noticed any issues because my beans are mostly sprouting when I throw them to the chooks, and because they have a lot of choice about what they eat – they forage in the garden areas and just leave anything they don’t fancy. Free range chooks are pretty good at choosing what to eat and what to leave.

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