Anyway, back to the other end of the process: the planting. I wasn't able to borrow the Earthway seeder that I would ordinarily use, so this planting was entirely low-tech: make a furrow (thanks again, Valley Oak wheel hoe!), drop the beans by hand, and cover with a rake. It was back-breaking work, stooped low over the furrows for several hours, but I couldn't have asked for a more beautiful day.
One of the reasons beans are a favorite crop for me is the surprise of them. You take these small, brilliantly colored things, and cover them with soil. In time, plants grow, and they're green and lush and beautiful, but they give no hint of the things they hold inside. The plants die and dry down, and you're left with a crackly brown mass of plant matter and a multitude of pods, dry and rattly like dead cicadas. Then you crack a pod open, and the bean is revealed: color, and roundness, and a hard little packet that promises food for months or even years to come. You can run them over with a truck and they'll still be good to eat. Now, that's my kind of storage crop!
|Jacob's Cattle beans|
|Black Coco beans|
|Tiger's Eye beans in the rough|