Alisha, Dara, and Mike came over to help with the seeds. First, we packaged tons of seeds. Then, running out of one of our best Native heirloom pole beans, Blue Shackamaxon, Will showed everyone how we shell bulk beans. With smaller amounts, we just sit and hand shell them into a container. But with pounds of beans, it’s really much easier on the hands and faster to put a layer into a big cardboard box or other large container such as a plastic tote bin or even a child’s swimming pool, then just tread on them. We call it “dancing on beans” and if you add a little music, it’s actually fun. As you tread, the pods shatter and the beans trickle out. After a few minutes of treading, you add another layer of beans and stir up the pods below. This is repeated until they are all done. Then you pull out a handful of pods and kind of feel through them to make sure all have been shelled. If not, it’s easy to finish the job by hand and toss the spent pods into a bucket. You’re left with a nice batch of beans with a little debris in them which most can be picked out by hand.
Then the box of beans is taken outdoors to be winnowed by pouring from one container to another in the wind. The breeze blows the smaller chaff away, leaving nice clean beans. That works well but today there wasn’t much wind and Mike tried to help by waving his hands by the box as will poured. Oh oh! He got a bit too close, and Will dumped the beans! Right into the crushed rock of the driveway; black beans on dark gray rock. So they spent quite a while picking up beans, one by one, by hand. Mittens tried to help but without fingers, she couldn’t do much except get petted. They did get all of them and now the beans are pretty clean but we’re waiting for a windy day to finish them up. (Or we might get the fan out and plug it in.)
All of my hot peppers have germinated and I’m waiting on the first of the sweet peppers. Tomorrow I’ll be putting the tomatoes into alphabetical order so I can start planting them as soon as I have shelf room behind the stove. I think it’s going to be a busy summer! — Jackie