Harvesting dry legumes for food and research

Dry alberjon (peas) are ready for harvest

Today we got around to some harvesting of our dry peas and fava beans.  These kinds of crops, if not picked fresh for sweet peas or green beans, are best left until the very end of their life cycle to harvest as dry peas and beans.  This is a matter of timing however as you do not want it to rain on the crops at the dry stage and then create mold or mildew on your crops in the humidity and heat.

So the plant can be very easily pulled from the ground at this stage, being careful that dry beans and peas don’t pop out of the dry legumes (pods) and fall on the ground.  Of course a few volunteer plants for next year isn’t a big deal for us, we like the crops to have some wild tendencies.  After the dry legumes and beans/peas are gathered, they are best put on a screen to dry some more.  You can even here the drying process crackling like a small fire!  After they are completely dry, they can be smashed in a pillow case or tarp to separate the beans and peas from the dry plant material that can then be further separated with winnowing in the wind or with a fan.

Dry beans are a staple crop for the winter and dry peas are the same, though we like to run the peas through a grinder on a coarse setting to make split peas, winnowing them again to remove the seed shell…

All the material that is not beans or peas is saved in a tarp and thrown in the chicken coop.  The chickens will make use of any beans or peas accidentally left out and will also stir in the dry plant material (carbon) with their manure to make composting material that we will gather from the coop a couple of times a year…

We also gathered some data on relative crop production of fava beans:  those coming from seed that survived last year’s drought and the parent stock with no drought experience.  Though we still have measurements to make, it is clear that the seed that survived drought last year has yielded more than its parent stock with no drought experience.  Combined with some lentil data in the same type of context, we will have a nice story to tell with data that confirms it is important to have seed that is locally adapted and that has experience with producing in hard times…

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About Miguel

Miguel Santistevan is a researcher, educator, and advocate for traditional agriculture crops and systems.
This entry was posted in Acequia Culture, AIRE, Phenology, Sol Feliz Farm. Bookmark the permalink.

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