Frost tonite - pick dry beans?

vtguitargirl(Z4b VT)September 17, 2007

I'm growing Jacob's Cattle and Soldier Beans. I've picked the pods that are brown, and the beans inside are dry, though I am letting they dry out some more (in a bowl in the kitchen) to be on the safe side before I put them into jars.

My concern is this: Tonight we may get a frost, and most of the bean pods are full, but still very green. Do I: 1)pick them tonight & let them dry in the house? 2)Cover them with a sheet or plastic and not harvest them until the pods are brown? or 3)do something entirely different?

I *do* have a food dehydrator. Could I use that?

This is my first time growing beans of any sort, so any advice will be appreciated.

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farmerdilla

I am assuming you are expecting a light frost with Indian summer yet to come and the bean pods have not yet changed color. I would suggest covering them with an old bedsheet or something similar. Plastic does not give much protection unless held up off the plants. With a killing frost, you will have frost bite wherever the plastic touches the plant.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 7:45PM
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vtguitargirl(Z4b VT)

Yes, more warm fall days will follow.

Will try the bed sheet.

Thanks!

    Bookmark   September 17, 2007 at 9:00PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

I just went through the same situation three days ago, when a very early frost killed most of my beans. My advice is this:

If it is at all practical, cover the plants to protect them. This should allow most of the pods to ripen, once the weather warms. Keep in mind, you would need to remove the cover as soon as the frost melts, or the sun could cook the plants to death. If you (or someone else) will be unable to remove the cover promptly, you might want to harvest all that is usable instead.

Pick the pods that show signs of drying... wrinkled or flexible pods, and those that show browning at the stem and/or stem end of the pod. These beans should dry successfully, if placed indoors (a fan is recommended).

As for the rest... pick them for fresh "shellies" (green-shelled beans), and either cook them fresh, freeze, or can them. If there is a silver lining to the death of my garden each year, it is the large crop of shellies that I harvest the day before. It is, literally, my last crop of the season - and a very tasty one.

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 4:19PM
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jimster(z7a MA)

zeedman,

I know you probably have important reasons for living where you do BUT, you need to move farther south.

Jim

    Bookmark   September 18, 2007 at 7:57PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

"I know you probably have important reasons for living where you do BUT, you need to move farther south."

Naaa... I like the challenge. ;-)

Most years I have nearly ideal weather during the time when the majority of my beans are maturing - dry, windy, and cool. I have grown accustomed to having a garden which, while brief, is nearly disease-free. The local lake system deflects most of the strong storms that come my way, so I seldom suffer massive damage. The soil is rich, the water is plentiful & free, my freezers are full, and I share with everyone I know. This year was my best year ever (in over 3 decades of gardening) for okra, eggplant, and winter squash.

If an occasional early frost is the only price I pay for that, so be it. I count my blessings.

Besides, if a variety succeeds here, it will probably make it anywhere. (lol) I was STILL able to get dry okra seed from "Pentagreen", and from the Philippine vegetables that I trialled this year.

BTW, my yardlongs, runner beans, & winged beans were killed completely in my main/rural garden (my home garden survived undamaged). But most of my common beans, limas, and soybeans survived, with varying degrees of damage (50-75%). They have aborted all immature pods, and are now ripening the remaining pods at a furious pace. I may, in fact, have one of my best crops ever of limas (from "1880's Butterbean"); and since I probably have two weeks or so before the hard freeze, I should get most of my remaining dry seed crops.

Kinda makes me wonder... could a shot from a CO2 extinguisher trick some long-season beans into maturing earlier? An experiment for next year...

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 5:13PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

Jimster, where are you in MA that is 7a? Cape Cod? I had 34 degrees 2 nights ago in my garden (the night before was 35) and our cranberry bogs had temps well below freezing 3 nights in a row. Glad it is warmer tonight.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2007 at 11:36PM
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tomakers(SE MA Zone 5/6 or ?)

Jimster, where are you in MA that is 7a? Cape Cod? I had 34 degrees 2 nights ago in my garden (the night before was 35) and our cranberry bogs had temps well below freezing 3 nights in a row. Glad it is warmer tonight.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 4:05AM
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deanriowa(4b)

Does a light frost hurt the quality of the dry beans, if they are dry and ready to pick?

thanks,

Dean

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 9:59AM
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jimster(z7a MA)

tomakers,

Yes. Cape Cod is the Northernmost part of 7a in the East. The surrounding ocean moderates the temperature here by several degrees compared to the mainland. There have been some unusually chilly nights recently, but nothing below the 40's. Lows this week are in the 60's.

zeedman,

Good for you. You certainly are outside the norm with your gardening. You have a tremendous amount of know-how and data which you apply effectively.

Jim

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 1:43PM
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zeedman Zone 5 Wisconsin

Dean, if I recall the frost map correctly, you had your frost on the same night as mine. A light frost usually has little effect on the more mature pods; the larger leaves & young pods take the brunt of it the first night. However, if it freezes again, the greener pods (now without their blanket of leaf cover) could be destroyed.

Dry pods should be OK after a light frost... but if you are saving seed to plant, pick them before you have a hard freeze. The moisture content of the seeds is still too high to survive extended freezing.

    Bookmark   September 20, 2007 at 4:31PM
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