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Spilling the beans

Miguel Braganza

Shravan is the time we think of vegetables! Thanks to Kurade, we also have European or button mushrooms produced locally in Goa, to enjoy long after the termite-hill mushrooms are just a lingering memory! The other good source of proteins in a vegetarian diet is pulses especially beans. These include cluster beans or chidki, sword beans or ghevdde, French beans or papddi, flat beans or wal-papddi, cowpea or alsanddo and long beans or wal also known as irvil which become both important and expensive during the month preceding Ganesh Chaturthi.

Beans are the original vegetables or ‘legume’ of Europe. They form an association with a bacterium known as Rhizobium japonicum that forms root nodules that fix nitrogen from the air as nitrates in the soil. Hence, nitrogenous fertilisers need not be applied to this crop or the one that follows. It is for this reason that our ancestors grew cowpea or alsanddo after the rice crop. Rhizobium is available as a powder that can be applied to the seeds at sowing time.

Cluster beans are perhaps the most easy-to-grow of all the beans, anytime of the year. Their keeping quality is very good. These are of two varieties: the long pod, smooth skin pusa nav Bahar and the short pod, slightly hairy-skinned gawar variety. The seeds take about three days to germinate. They can be soaked for 8-12 hours before planting to hasten germination. Add a little Trichoderma viride culture to the seed, whether pre-soaked or sown dry. This is available at the KVK-North of ICAR at Karmali and also with seed dealers and Zonal Agriculture Offices across Goa.  The seeds should be sown directly where they are to grow. They can be planted in single or double rows to facilitate harvesting the pods. Organic manures or dried farm yard manure should be added when it is about one foot tall and some soil should be heaped at the base of the plant to support it when it grows taller. Harvesting can begin forty five days after planting, twice a week for about 2 months thereafter.

Long beans which are found in Goa on the other hand, are of three varieties. The plants need staking from about a week after germination. A distance of about one metre should be maintained between plants.  Harvesting can begin two months after planting. It will continue yielding for 2 to 3 months. The plant is susceptible to tiny black aphids. To tackle this, one can either cut off the affected parts, spray with neem oil emulsion or dust with neem cake powder or ash. Avoid use of insecticides.

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