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.

Will is treading on the Blue Shackamaxon beans to shell them.

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.)

Oops! Mike bumped Will’s box while trying to create more breeze by waving his hands. But all’s good; they got them all picked up.
Now we just have to wait for a windy day to finish winnowing the light chaff out of this 5-pound box of beans.

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


  1. I’ll have to order some of the blue Shackamaxon next year. They sure are pretty. Jackie how do you usually prepare them? I mean what kind of recipes do you use them in,? Thanks:)

    • They make a great baked or soup bean or even a bean dip. We can’t grow Black Turtle beans here as they are too long a season for us. But the Blue Shackamaxons always make it and they are HUGELY productive too! We love them.

  2. When I was a child Mama would put the dried beans in an old pillow slip and tie it closed. We would beat the bag with a broom handle, etc. and wait for a windy day to pour them from one container into another. We lived mostly from the gardens and the dried beans/peas sure were tasty in winter!

    • Yes they are!!! Yep, I’ve done the pillow slip thing too but I’ve also ripped a few doing it that way. So we tread on the beans instead. Aren’t those memories sweet??

  3. A busy year, yes indeed-but the feeling-the energy that one has, as a garden goes from a plan in your head to actual plants and then the planting, is incomparable. Spring is a great time of year and you have some great helpers, esp Mittens

    • Yes! I could just hear Mittens saying “Hey Mike, you missed one over there. Dad, you’re standing by a few and Alisha, can you take a minute to pet me???”

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