Posted by: kathandroger | December 18, 2013

Seed sorting.

IMG_2433I get bored very easily. I had a boring job to do-shelling the dry lablab beans and the castor oil plant pods. We grow them both for ornamental effect and as a screen for the swimming pool, and they do the job very well. I am not sure if they will do as well in the UK, but various friends are going to try our seeds next year. I started the job as if shelling runner beans; works OK, but there were so many to do that it would have taken hours to complete the task. Then a very rare stroke of genius, inspired by Dennis wondering at my inefficiency. Why not crush the dry pods in my hands and then use gravity to do the rest? After a few moments of rubbing and crushing, then shaking the container
IMG_2438, all the beans were at the bottom and I had only to blow off the dry husks to have the perfect result. Bugger, I should have done that outside-better get the dust pan and brush out quickly before the boss arrives!



  1. We tried growing Lablab beans in Leeds – not a great success! I think Ricinus (castor oil plant – will grow but keep it out of your umbrella.

  2. I’m afraid your description of handling castor oil seeds gave me the heeby geebies. Are you aware that they are very poisonous if ingested? I hope none of the animals takes a liking to them, and wash your hands after handling the seeds. Realistically, there isn’t much danger from just touching any part of the plant, and a lot of animals won’t touch the seeds, but it is a species that makes me nervous nonetheless. I’ve grown it myself, but I am careful with it.

    • Thanks Susan. I did know about the plant, and have done some reading-it appears that it would take loads of beans to do any damage to human or animal ingesters, and if the plant really was that dangerous I don’t think it would be so freely available-but then I suppose Hemlock is! Happy Christmas. PS I do remember a family being really ill after eating daffodil bulbs thinking they were shallots!!!   Read our blog at

      • I don’t know what you were reading, but my understanding is that the toxic dose is about half a dozen seeds for an adult human, assuming the skin of the seed is broken on ingestion. Whole undamaged seeds will go straight through without releasing the toxin. Resistance to the toxin varies from species to species and according to size/age of animal.

        Lots of garden plants are toxic, but no danger in normal circumstances. Castor oil plants and hemlock are two of the few I would be really careful of. Ricin is the most toxic organic substance on earth and hemlock is the most toxic European native plant.

  3. It sounds very boring but good job done

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