jueves, 20 de agosto de 2009

full of frijoles

'Tis the season
for BEANS!

A rite of passage for any latin american farmer, this was my first 100% On-My-Own bean crop.

who's counting? me:
Seven pounds planted
twice the rows weeded
ninety days plants grew
20-something pounds harvested (thus far)
lessons learned: innumerable
May 26 i gently tossed the first 2 lbs into 4 shallow rows, the crookedness of said rows being my involuntary trademark design (regardless of how hard i try to plant in straight lines).
A local farmer told us you weed your beans twice during the growing season, ensuring that your beans crop is healthy and low maintenance
note the inescapable (yet groovy?) curves

I didn't know it at the time, but these rows are too CLOSE. once the bean plants thrived and climbed and stretched, i was left with a wild unnavigable tangle of vines.
Bean harvest Nica style consists of a few simple steps:

Yanking up the dried plants and leaving them to sun dry for 4 days. these homemade drying screens work PERFECTLY

Once the pods are thoroughly dry (brown & crackly), the entire plant is stuffed into a sack which is then beaten with a stick. then shook.
until the majority of the dry beans are relinquished from their pods and drop to the bottom of the sack. A primitive process perhaps, but highly effective for releasing supressed energy and working your biceps.
The dirt/sticks/leaves must now be painstakingly picked out of the bountiful harvest. At this stage i flubbed up again and "cleaned" the beans in water, thus inciting the sprouting potential of the next generation of bean plants. can you eat red and black bean sprouts? never heard of it before but you sure as heck wouldn't store dry beans wet. hence, i was forced to plant out the sproutlings.
At this point the beans should be laid out in a safe sunny spot to DRY more. i learned this one the hard way when my first few pounds grew a fluffy white mold...

And, despite producing a beauteous visual effect, the colorful red + black combo was unintentional....another consequence of planting rows of frijoles negros too close to rows of frijoles rojos, not to mention culinary taboo in the eyes of red bean loyal Nicas.

2 comentarios:

Dan R-M dijo...

I'd love to know the area you planted, even approximately. Up here we do everything by 100 square feet, and so hearing your finished yield would be great...
We usually pick ours off the plant and shell them, leaving less junk to clean later. Last year we harvested half of our black beans, plants and all, to mash up and sift out the beans. We ended up with a lot of bean-sized and smaller rocks, which was kind of disturbing.
Thanks for sharing, Liz!

Liz dijo...

Ok Dan, i tried to estimate my land use...i probably should have been more logistical when i first planted :) Anyway, my bean field was about 15ft by 20ft. i planted 4 lbs of dry beans and yielded about 22lbs AFTER quality control. i also ended up with lots of mini-beans, some discolored/white? and a small percentage that had already sprouted when i shelled them. next time around i will be much better prepared