Saturday, October 24, 2009
From Bean to Bean...Saga of a bean grower.
We've been looking at a lot of beans lately. And doing all sorts of interesting things to said beans to get them ready for market and sale to our loyal, bean-loving public. That said, I thought it might be interesting to go through a quick log of the "bean tasks" of the seasons as we have taken them from seed to plant to seed again! Bear with me, this is kinda long, but I think it gives a good idea of what a smaller farmer goes through to bring a crop to market (and remember this is just ONE of the 100+ crops we grow at Willowood Farm...) So here goes -
Nov. 2008. Save seed from 08 crop to plant in 2009.
Nov. 2008. Leased 3 acre field from neighbor. Need more room for beans for next year.
Nov. 2008. Cultivating in green manure (reseeded barley crop), will let field set fallow for winter for weed control
April 25 2009. First disk of new field.
May 15 2009. Second disk of new field.
May 25 2009. Planting beans! Using new tractor mounted planters - working great! Plant about 1.5 acres total!
June 1 2009. First bean plants up! Rockwell's are up first - they alway's are!
June 6 2009. Hmm...Field has germinated very patchy. Some places up great. Others not at all. Why? No rain since week before we planted. Seed that had a bit more moisture in the ground germinated, spots in the field that were a bit drier - the seed is just sitting there not doing anything! Rain predicted later this week?
June 12 2009. Still NO RAIN! Can't wait for mother nature! Sprinklers!
June 13-July 5 2009. Constant moving the sprinklers (watering 1.5 acres of beans on regular home style overhead sprinkler is a lot of sprinkler moving!).
July 10 2009. Okay, now all the beans are up. This will cause problems later however, as about 60% of the crop came up when it should, all the rest later. This means double work on weed management and we will have to harvest 2x as well. Oh well. At least they all came up!
July 12. Weed, weed, weed. Get the field done once, start again!
July 20th. Some signs of halo blight. Worse in some spots that others. Probably due to having to overhead sprinkle to get seeds up (beans don't like overhead water...). Trying to combat the problem by spraying with compost tea. Two applications of 55 gallons of spray.
Aug. 1. Weed, weed, weed again!
Sept. 1. Earliest beans are starting to get "shell bean" ready. This is when they came be shelled from pod and eaten fresh! Yummy!
Sept. 25. Rockwells and Arikara's (well, the plants that came up early), are ready to be threshed. Pull up and windrow in the field.
Oct. 1. Bring out the combine to thresh Rockwells. (SWEAR WORD INSERTED HERE!). The combine is splitting about 50% of the beans! Perhaps because they are so dry because so little rain this summer????? GRRR!!!!
Oct. 2. Bring all the Rockwells, Arikara's into barn to thresh through hammermill. Slow process, but we need beans for Farm Tour!
Oct. 3. Thresh Rockwell's through hammermill. Clean through seed cleaner. Place through second screen to remove any split ones (hammermill splits some too). Bag and tag about 50 bags of Rockwell beans! 5 people on this task, takes about 5 hours (25 hours total!).
Oct. 7. Dad's home! Can he fix the combine so no more splits...Ordered parts.????
Oct. 9. Dad think's he's fixed the combine. Nope...still splitting. Although not as bad (probably 10 to 15 percent). We decide to do some more Rockwell's because I'm sold out almost already!
Oct. 12. Bring in ALL the bean plants from the field. Wet weather predicted. Many, many trips with truckloads of beans. Thank goodness our barn is the size of multiple football fields!
Oct. 15. Dad ordered another new part. 10-15% splitting is still not acceptable! Those beans are A LOT of work!
Oct. 18. Parts in! Combine works now! No splitting! Yee-haw!
Oct. 19. Lots of wet, wet weather lately. Even inside, high humidity has soaked into pods of unthreshed beans and they are wet! How to dry this many beans?????
Oct. 20. Dad decides we should thresh anyways. Better to get beans out of wet (humid) pods than leave them in. More wet weather predicted.
Oct. 21. Brain storm! Dry wet beans in the clothes drier! Go to Wal-Mart for big laundry bags! It works. Just will take a while, a LOT of beans to put through the drier!
And now you are up to date! Hope you enjoyed the trials and tribulations of growing dry beans in the Pacific Northwest!
And if you want to buy any of these beans, we will be bringing Rockwells and Black Garbanzo bags to the Bayview Market TODAY! And don't forget today is the fun and wacky Mutt Strutt/Apple Tasting at Bayview Farmer's Market and Bayview Farm and Garden. Lots of fun fall-time activities including pumpkin painting and fun stuff! Willowood Farm will be bringing all sorts of great fall feast items including a huge selection of gorgeous heirloom pumpkins and winter squash, decorative gourds, loads of storage bags of potatoes for fall and winter, awesome garlic and still great seed garlic (not too late to plant!), head lettuce, spinach bags, arugula bags, stir-fry bunches, raab bunches, cabbage for making coleslaw and sauerkraut...And the list goes on and on!
Hope to see you at market today!