The first step is to clear the spots where the guandu will be sown.
The plot is ready for the sowing.
Using a coa tool, a shallow hole is dug.
Each hole must be sown with four or five seeds.
The seeds are deposited into the hole while the coa is used for holding the soil open. The coa is removed with care, so that the seeds don't stick to it.
Finally, the hole is covered with soil and the wait for the seeds to germinate begins.
The pigeon pea, known in Panama as guandu, is a legume originary from India. It arrived at the Caribbean Sea Basin five hundred years ago with the African slaves brought by the Spanish. Since, it has become embeded in the traditional cuisine of many Caribbean countries such as Panama.
This article deals with the traditional way of sowing guandu in Panama. A few weeks ago, we participated in the sowing of a guandu plot at Lidice, Capira, Panama. It was held during Saint John the Baptist's Day, a traditional date for sowing in Panama, due the belief that crops planted on this date bear rich yieldings. Saint John the Baptist's Day falls on June 24th and is actually a little late for the normal sowing season, but the custom is to sow a late batch of crops this day.
The guandu is sown in lines, each hole being seperated from the others by more than a meter. The holes are dug with a machete or a coa, which is a tool originary from Central America. It is actually a stick with a metal end. Between four and five seeds of guandu are deposited on each hole and then are covered with the removed dirt. The seeds will take between five and ten days to germinate and then will grow into a bush.
In future articles we will explain the harvesting proccess and the preparation of the delicious Arroz con Guandu.