iPhoneOgraphy – 08 Mar 2016 (Day 68/366)
The mung bean (Vigna radiata), alternatively known as the moong bean, green gram, is a plant species in the legume family. Native to the Indian subcontinent, the mung bean is mainly cultivated today in Indian, China, and Southeast Asia. It is also cultivated in hot, dry regions in Southern Europe and the Southern United States. It is used as an ingredient in both savory and sweet dishes.
The English word mung is derived from the Hindi word मूंग moong derived from the Sanskrit word मुद्ग (mudga).
The mung bean was domesticated in Persia (Iran), where its progenitor (Vigna radiata subspecies sublobata) occurs wild. Archaeology has turned up carbonized mung beans on many sites in India. Areas with early finds include the eastern zone of the Harappan civilization in Punjab and Haryana, where finds date back about 4500 years, and South India in the modern state of Karnataka where finds date back more than 4000 years. Some scholars therefore infer two separate domestications in the northwest and south of India. In South India there is evidence for evolution of larger-seeded mung beans 3500 to 3000 years ago. By about 3500 years ago mung beans were widely cultivated throughout India. Cultivated mung beans later spread from India to China and Southeast Asia.
Archaeobotanical research at the site of Khao Sam Kaeo in southern Thailand indicates that mung beans had arrived in Thailand by at least 2200 years ago. Finds on Pemba Island indicate that during the era of Swahili trade, in the 9th or 10th century, mung beans also came to be cultivated in Africa,.
iPhoneOgraphy – 26 Jan 2016 (Day 26/366)
Beans are one of the longest-cultivated plants. Broad beans, also called fava beans, in their wild state the size of a small fingernail, were gathered in Afghanistan and the Himalayan foothills. In a form improved from naturally occurring types, they were grown in Thailand since the early seventh millennium BCE, predating ceramics. They were deposited with the dead in ancient Egypt. Not until the second millennium BCE did cultivated, large-seeded broad beans appear in the Aegean, Iberia and transalpine Europe. In the lliad (8th century BCE) is a passing mention of beans and chickpeas cast on the threshing floor.
Beans were an important source of protein throughout Old and New World history, and still are today.
The oldest-known domesticated beans in the Americas were found in Guitarrero Cave, an archaeological site in Peru, and dated to around the second millennium BCE.
Most of the kinds commonly eaten fresh or dried, those of the genus Phaseolus, come originally from the Americas, being first seen by a European when Christopher Columbus, during his exploration of what may have been the Bahamas, found them growing in fields. Five kinds of Phaseolus beans were domesticated by pre-Columbian peoples: common beans (Phaseolus Vulgaris) grown from Chile to the northern part of what is now the United States, and lima and sieva beans (Phaseolus Lunatus), as well as the less widely distributed teparies (Phaseolus Acutifolius), scarlet runner beans (Phaseolus Coccineus) and polyanthus beans (Phaseolus Polyanthus) One especially famous use of beans by pre-Columbian people as far north as the Atlantic seaboard is the “Three Sisters” method of companion plant cultivation:
In the New World, many tribes would grow beans together with maize (corn), and squash. The corn would not be planted in rows as is done by European agriculture, but in a checkerboard/hex fashion across a field, in separate patches of one to six stalks each.
Beans would be planted around the base of the developing stalks, and would vine their way up as the stalks grew. All American beans at that time were vine plants, “bush beans” having been bred only more recently. The cornstalks would work as a trellis for the beans, and the beans would provide much-needed nitrogen for the corn.
Squash would be planted in the spaces between the patches of corn in the field. They would be provided slight shelter from the sun by the corn, would shade the soil and reduce evaporation, and would deter many animals from attacking the corn and beans because their coarse, hairy vines and broad, stiff leaves are difficult or uncomfortable for animals such as deer and raccoons to walk through, crows to land on, etc.
Dry beans come from both Old World varieties of broad beans (fava beans) and New World varieties (kidney, black, cranberry, pinto, navy/haricot).
Beans are a heliotropic plant, meaning that the leaves tilt throughout the day to face the sun. At night, they go into a folded “sleep” position.