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I’m trying to imagine what this blog will be during the few months of complete garden inactivity. We are still working in the garden – yesterday Jordan was cleaning the garden of all rocks, markers, forgotten tools, twine, etc, to prepare it to be tilled before we get real snow cover. And as soon as the snow melts in the spring we will prepare the ground to be tilled again.

During those short, sometimes house-bound, months, we remember the bright green days of the garden at mealtime. There is a lot of satisfaction in carrying an armload of mason jars into the kitchen to prepare a meal, especially when the food is for friends and family who were part of your journey. They visit the garden, linger at the market to ask how everything’s going, listen to you talk about this or that specialty variety, maybe even help you weed once or twice.

So during the garden’s winter rest, perhaps this blog will veer slightly and follow the path parallel to the garden: the table.

 

 

Dry beans are great because they are so patient. You let them go while you have to feverishly harvest and preserve everything else, and then they just sit and wait until you are ready to thresh them. Thank you dry beans! You win the Produce Congeniality award.

We planted a small kidney bean called hidatsa red, which I planned from the beginning to let dry down. The butter beans were kind of a mistake – the limas were all ready at such a variety of times, and some seemed at different points even within the same pod. I have never grown limas so maybe I just need to adjust my expectations. But for the most part I decided it was too hard to babysit them to try and figure out when I could pick them, so I just let them dry down. Dry limas are called butter beans.

 

I wanted to thresh the beans outside, because I knew the chaff would be really messy, so on a 50ish degree day, I let Solveigh and Alice stomp them down to weaken the pods.

 

 

Then I rolled the kidney beans between my hands to break them down further. The lima bean pods were a lot tougher, so I actually shelled those one at a time (more about that later).

Beans are heavier than the chaff, so they fell to the bottom of the container, and I pulled off all the chaff.

There were still bits and pieces that needed to be winnowed out, so we set up a fan and poured them back and forth a few times.

 

Last step: poured them over a large screen and shook them a little.

BEAUTY!

A few days later, I did the lima/butter beans. The pods literally popped open like a spring hinge. Some were so dry when I picked them, they curled up on themselves. Crazy!

The pods didn’t make nearly as much mess as the kidney beans, so I just worked on them while we watched Breaking Bad for a few nights. We’ve got lots of good pots of chili ahead!