Shellin’ The Beans

This spring we planted Black Beans from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds and a couple weeks ago they were finally ready to harvest. I decided to plant the “Cherokee Trail of Tears” variety, mostly because of the cool story behind it.

When the Cherokee people were forced to leave their homes and march on the Trail of Tears to the reservations in 1889, they brought the seeds for this variety of bean with them from Tennessee to Oklahoma. Since we lived in Tennessee until last year, I though it would be fun to plant these beans. They did really well- the purple pods are so pretty! When they were beginning to dry out we picked them and hung them to dry over our kitchen window for about a week. I was afraid it would start to get rainy and they would mold if we left them on the plants in the garden. Turns out, I had nothing to worry about, since we’ve had lots of sunny weather up until a few days ago. But in Washington, you never know.

Once the beans were dried out, it was time for shelling. The kids and I took the bean vines out on the porch and got to work!

We had fun chasing the beans as some of them exploded and beans went all over the place.


We ended up shelling around a pound of beans- definitely not enough to keep us from starving if we were living completely off the land, but for a first crop of about 8-10 plants, not too bad. I am going to save all of the beans for planting again next year and hopefully we’ll get enough to eat and save for seeds the year after that.


The beans are super shiny and pretty- way more good looking than the dull black beans you get in the store. I’m excited about the prospect of eating them next year. It will be worth the wait, I think.

Have you ever planted heirloom beans? How did they do for you?

2 thoughts on “Shellin’ The Beans

  1. I almost got milita black, that was my second choice but I decided to go with Trail of Tears. It doesn’t get that hot here in NW Washington State, which probably accounts for the lower yield. I know when we lived in TN our beans did a lot better.
    I definitely think they’re underrated too- beans are so low maintenance. I’m glad yours did so well! Thanks for visiting. 🙂

  2. I grow Mitla Black (which doesn’t have such pretty pods). In tough, hot environments, I think black beans are underrated as a garden veggies. Plant them on a fence; ignore until fall. My yield is about twice your for 10 plants; perhaps it’s the variety or perhaps then beans really want you to dial up the heat. Some day I need to get a bean sheller!

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