The previous post showed some of the finished product, now here is some of the context:
I planted six 125′ rows (3 beds) of dry beans. Around 1/2 bed each of mexican red bean, Hutterite soup bean, black turtle bean, tiger’s eye bean, and pawnee shell bean with a some Jacob’s Cattle and Cannellini as well. I used about 4 pounds of seed for that 750 feet of beans, with the hope of getting enough beans to eat all year, give away lots, and plant again next year!
Here is part of the large pile of dry bean pods, after they’ve been pulled off the plant. The central valley has the climate dry beans love best: dry and hot. The beans grow just like your ordinary green bean plant (and can be eaten as green beans) but the pods are allowed to dry on the plant, which signals to the plant that its work is done, and the plant dies. The beans are pulled off the plant either by hand, or by machine on large farms.
When the beans were all piled on a large tarp and completely dry, I folded the tarp over them, got some sugar in my system, and started jumping. The tarp-enfolded beans were jumped on by me, by visitors, rolled over and driven over, and in the end most of the pods opened or crumbed, and the beans were released.
Winnowing simply means separating the beans from the chaff — crushed leaves and other organic matter, pebbles, a beetle or two, etc. There are innumerable ways to separate heavy beans from the lighter chaff. Keo suggested using a basket to bounce the beans up and down, letting the wind carry off the chaff. I’ve poured the beans from bucket to bucket in front of a standing fan before. This time I used an air compressor to blast air through the beans, blowing everything lighter than a whole bean away.
And here’s what I ended up with: 55 pounds of beans, or 7.3 lbs/100 sq ft. Above the national average yield of 3.8lbs, but well below the 24lb maximum yield suggested in my biointensive gardening book. I have a hard time imagining a 24lb/100′ harvest … I’d definitely be planting less area!