Lima beans — jumping like Mexicans?

I thought I was hearing things.  It was late, I was alone, perhaps I was a bit jumpy myself. 

Until there it went again. I whipped my head around, but saw nothing.  Hmmm.

Maybe it was another cricket.  Or maybe it was one of those tiny green grasshoppers leaping away as I rustled through Lima bushes in search of plump pods.  A few weren’t so quick, and I was able to squash them on sight.  Nothing like organic pest control! 

Either way, I had to ignore the sounds of nature.  It was getting dark.  

A task that took some doing.  After our recent big rains, the amount of beans needing harvested was daunting.  Yet exhilarating.  I finally may have planted enough beans to last until fall harvest!  Wonderful news — except I seemed to be a bit “late in the plucking.”  Many of the pods had already turned brown and hard.  Not good for blanching and freezer storage. 

Fine.  I can accept this fact.  Rain happens.  Nature matures.  I was on vacation.  We must make time to live, right?  But immediately my thoughts turned to researching what to do with all these dried Limas.  There must be some way to utilize them…

And then it dawned on me.  Ding-dong.  Use the dried beans for fall planting!  Duh.  (Sometimes Captain Obvious flies into the garden without the slightest of notice.)

Okay.  No problem.  With this new realization at hand, I began to create a pile of brown pods to be taken in with my green pods.  Pulling pods, separating colors, I heard it.

Pop!  But this time, I caught sight of movement from the corner of my eye — something flying through the air, landing clear on the other side of my bean row.   I think.  Zeroing in, I spot a dried pod on the mulched ground near the site in question.  Interesting.  I leaned over to pick it up, when the dried pod (held in my hand) suddenly spit open.

What’s this?  I glanced at my palm to discover the dried bean had separated itself from the twisted pod.  Odd, I thought, but continued about my business without making the connection.  Remember:  Captain Obvious is still hovering about my garden.

It wasn’t until the event happened before my very eyes that I understood what was happening.  An over-dried sun-baked Lima bean pod had dried to the point where it was now contracting in the cooling evening temps, splitting the pod at the seams, shooting hard white beans out from their its cocoon!  Amazing!  Thrilling.

Once again, here I was, witnessing Mother Nature in all her glory.  Not only have I learned that sweet potatoes don’t actually need slips to be made for planting — they can sprout themselves from potatoes left in the ground (obvious, considering that in “raw nature” there’s no one to make the slips in the first place!) — but bean plants can spread their seeds (beans) by shooting them through the air after a long, hot summer day.  Is that cool, or what?

If you said “what,” you may as well stop reading this blog, because I am all about cool, corny, watching nature at her best.  It’s the “little” things in life that keep us hopping.  Or jumping, in the case of these Limas.  Almost like I’ve got a field of Mexican jumping beans!  Cool.  Very cool.

So take heart:  If you miss the exact best time to harvest your beans, don’t worry.  You can still use them for planting the next season in the perfect harmony of total sustainability!

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