Saturday, April 5, 2014

Walking Beans With My Dad

When I was a teenager Dad would have us kids walk through the bean fields and pull or cut weeds. My father would hire neighborhood kids to work with us to speed up the process. The weeds between the row were generally taken care of by the tractor and the 4 row cultivator. But there were a few weeds in the rows that continued to grow. Those were the target of the bean walkers. Being a bean walker wasn't some kind of mystical thing or some kind of new sleeping disorder...

It was a fun job if there weren't a lot of weeds, but it was hot and sweaty work if the weeds were many or large. We learned to identify the various weeds. There was pig weed, iron weed, button weed, cockle burr, thistles, and foxtail. My children can still identify and pull these same weeds in our garden, even though we don't grow soybeans like dad did. He would have been pleased that his teenage grandchildren could identify each of these weeds and 50 garden crops by variety. They know this because they have experience with these plants up-close and personal, just like I did when I was a kid.

Today the beans are planted with a grain drill in very close spacing. Powerful herbicides don't allow anything but the beans to grow. The soybeans have been  genetically modified to tolerate the herbicides, which would have killed my fathers soybeans. My dad had really clean bean fields without GMO's and herbicides. He had to get off the tractor and work with his children to "walk beans". That is something to think about.

In our organic garden, we still plant soybeans. These soybeans are edible and called edamame. They are an Asian delicacy, and we sell a lot of them in mid to late summer. We still pull or cut the weeds by hand, but one row at a time and not by the acre like we did when I was young.

This post is in honor of my father who went home to be with the Lord on Sunday, 3/30/14.

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