I know I have gone on about this at length before but I'm going to just go ahead and say it again: Gardening! It is so cool!
These are some midnight black turtle beans that we grew this year.*
I cannot get over it. I am, perhaps, a bit overly excited. Because we grew black beans! The kind that sit all dry in a jar on the pantry shelf waiting to be cooked for chili! It is amazing! (Perhaps I should rein in the enthusiasm just a little bit so I don't scare you away?)
I don't know why the possibility of growing dried beans seemed to surprise me so. I suppose I had just never really thought about it, about what it took to get them to my kitchen. But I was flipping through the seed catalogs this past winter and saw seeds for a few sorts of meant-to-be-dried beans, and of course you can grow them at home. Why not? And it turns out to be rather simple. Plant, tend (my "tending" is very minimal indeed, more like "ignore") and grow just like the green beans, but don't harvest the beans so soon. Let them turn a funny shade of blackish-purple. Continue to leave them alone. Then let them dry and turn a light, papery brown. You can pluck the pods a basketful at a time as they dry, or you can pull the plants up and hang them upside down for awhile to make sure the pods are all as dry as can be.
Chili season just got about a million times more exciting around here.
*This isn't the whole harvest; there are more beans waiting for me. These are just the first ones we've shelled. A cool Sunday afternoon was spent sitting on the patio by a fire, shelling beans, chatting and sipping wine while the kiddo took an extra-long nap (inside but within earshot). Not a bad way to spend a lazy afternoon, I think!