Timing is everything. What works wonderfully when the pods of your dry soup beans are crisp and dry, is ineffective after a bit of rain. Lesson: harvest the beans before the winter moisture sets in and/or it will never get warm enough again to dry them out. Fortunately, I did this for a solid ⅔ of the row before the few days of rain, fog, and morning frosts. Those pods were very cooperative with my new bathtub threshing method.
Not realizing how soggy the remaining pods had gotten, I went out to collect them with a slightly altered method in mind. I didn’t want to hand pick all the pods off of the plants. I cleaned and dried the big plastic watering trough that I sometimes keep little chicks in. I drug this out to the row of black tepary beans, along with an empty seedling tray to put the loose beans in.
Remembering all the spiders that I had seen dispersing from the bushes when I picked the beans earlier, I had decided I was not ready to do this barefoot. In fact, I tucked my pants into my minimalist boots so that any bugs would not get immediate access up my pant leg. Call me paranoid. I call it smart. The garden path was mulched with dried grass clippings so there was no problem collecting mud on the bottom of the boots.
Only a few of the beans came loose, the pods not having any snap in them at the moment. I guess the good news is that meant they were also slow to pop open when I pulled the plants up by the roots. Note that the plants had died back enough that there was very little root mass and dirt was not coming along into the threshing tub. I began to pop a few open with my fingers, but decided instead to move on to experimenting with the breeze.
The breeze was working nicely for blowing away the leaf debris. However, without the screen method that I used over the bathtub indoors, the dirt was pretty much staying mixed. Maybe next year on a nice day, I’ll take the screen outside and see what happens.
Meanwhile, I decided to just pull the rest of the bean plants at once without threshing them a few at a time. The moisture had also affected the stems and I ended up pulling off sections of branches and groupings of bean pods. That’s okay. Less debris to sort through later. I put the whole tub full of them into the garage. Maybe they will dry some in there. One way or another, I will try to get to them soon because I already had to throw away a couple of moldy beans. Moisture has it’s place, but it’s not with my dry soup beans.