wild weather forecasts (Latin America); first rains that fall in the summer (Andes); first 12 days of the year (used to predict the weather) (Mexico)
It’s lovely in our part of Mexico right now – we are enjoying a short rainy season called cavañuelas that sometimes occurs during the winter months. It is a bona fide rainfall as well for farmers, who take the opportunity to plant a bonus crop of garbanzos. Whether they receive a real crop, with beans, or only grow the plants until they die a dusty death, the plants are good for the soil when they get disced into the ground. So, while old people complain about the cool air, the farmers are taking advantage of the moisture.
We have been investigating planting garbanzos. Our two fields were deeply ploughed last month, so the ground is perfect; clean and soft and wet. TOO wet for tractors, so we thought of seeding by hand. The price of the seed varies from place to place, and type to type – who knew there were so many kinds of garbanzos?
Garbanzos make a popular snack. You can buy a smallish plastic bag of garbanzos right here on our little street, in front of the school, with or without chile sauce on them. They are simply fresh round, green chick peas in their shells, so it takes a small amount of concentration to eat the delicious little things. You don’t just pop a handful in your mouth. But that is only one type of garbanzo.
Garbanzos are also well-loved by many animals. If the garbanzos you grow do not pass the flowering stage, or you need to harvest the plants early, the whole plants can be ground for an excellent feed for cattle, pigs, or goats and sheep.
The seed ranges in price (around here in central Mexico, anyway) from 15 pesos a kilo to 25 pesos a kilo. That makes for quite costly seed. Some types I have heard mentioned are garbanza (for people), garbanzo cal, garbanzo puerquero (for pigs).
A big advantage is the plants do not require close monitoring. No herbicides or pesticides are necessary.
However, you must monitor your fields because of human predators! Since the crop is so popular with people and animals, you must expect that people will come to cut the plants and carry them away in large sacks. Since there are many people in our little town and nearby ranchos who need supplements to their meager incomes, the illicit cutting and ensuing thievery is rampant, and can make a big difference in the size of the harvest. We are not sure that we want to be on the protect-your-crops and punish-the-thieves side of things. Although the harvest is pretty much a sure thing, we are still thinking it over…