Quite some effort goes into harvesting and processing our ‘Lazy Wife’ bean seed for use next summer. And not just for our own backyard garden – by disseminating surplus seed, I am able to encourage others to grow on this wonderful old heritage variety of green eating bean.
These beans were shelled over a month ago, and have been kept ever since in an open sieve in a dry sunny spot away from mice and damp. With a cold wind blowing outside under grey skies, the laborious task of ‘bean sorting’ holds more appeal than usual…
Almost one third of the crop that was shelled is unfit for seed-saving. These seeds are separated out by firstly sieving out the small seeds and debris through the large sieve in which they have been air drying. Then all the seeds that are distorted, discoloured, misshapen, wrinkled or already under attack by bean weevils are hand-picked out of there and thrown into the compost.
Good seeds have uniform size, shape and colour. This careful selection process ensures that the ‘best-of-the-breed’ continues on.
The big danger for bean seed is the inevitable ‘bean weevil’. Even though only a few months have past since the pods were picked and dried, some seeds are already showing the tell-tell signs of bean weevil attack; one or more small neat 1mm diameter holes drilled right through the dried bean seed. And sure enough, a vigorous shake of the bean sieve sprinkles a number of these 2mm long culprits out onto the kitchen table; the little devils can be seen below taking this opportunity to make more bean weevil eggs!
So the hand-selected beans are placed in old coffee tins (my standard seed containers) and will spend 24 hours in the deep freezer to kill off all weevil eggs remnant in the bean seed; the bean seeds will themselves survive these low temperatures