We will need to take another small break from the tomatoes. Mother Nature has conspired against my Tomato Tastings and had left me with no ripe tomatoes that I have not yet reviewed. I think we should be back in tomatoes in just a day or two.
So, tonight, I will be talking about the other prolific crop I have growing in my garden – Job’s Tears.
If you are a crafter, you need to grow these plants. But before we get into why, let me tell you a little more about them.
The first time I saw these, I was 9 years old at a Girl Scout meeting, looking pretty damn smart in my green jumper by the way, and the troop leader brought out a big bowl of white, grey and black beads. They were shiny, hard fossilized tears. At least that is what they looked like. I made a necklace and the location of that necklace has been lost to time and, most likely, a cleaning binge on my mother’s part.
Fast forward 20 years. I remembered those funny beads. And I remembered that Dottie, my troop leader, had said that they weren’t beads, they were seeds that could be used as beads. A little research on the internet and I found that they were Job’s Tears. Finding a supplier for the seeds of Job’s Tears was a bit harder, but I did eventually find one.
Job’s Tears are a member of the grass family, more specifically, they are a very close relative to corn. As a matter of fact, in some parts of the world, it is also called “Mother of Corn”.
These hard little bead seeds are actually not just seeds, they are technically a flower as well. The female flower is contained inside the seed, rather than above or below the seed or seed pod. When the seed is fertilized, the seed swells around the flower.
What makes this plant Nature’s gift to beaders and crafters is the fact that the male flower grows up through the center of the seed and grow above the seed. You can kind of think about it like the cob on corn, except that it is thread slender and, more importantly, removable.
So, without any effort on anyone’s part, other than planting them in the ground, this plant grows a polished, drilled bead that makes wonderful jewelry, rosaries and accents. Evolutionary survival at its finest.
In Europe and North America, that’s about as far as Job Tear’s uses go. But remember, it is a relative of corn. In Africa and Asia, this plant is used as food and drink, as well. It can be ground into meal, eaten whole or brewed into a beer or used as a coffee substitute.
In Africa, these little seeds are even used to make traditional musical instruments.
Now, here is the really weird part. These are tropical plants. They should not plant themselves here in cold winter Cleveland and, yet, I have an entire bed of these that grew from volunteers. They volunteered so heartily, that my garden has made the military decision to treat them as weed combatants next year.
I already have a giant bag of these things and, let’s face it, there are only so many necklaces and bracelets one can make for personal friends and kid’s teachers before you start to get that dreaded tight lipped smile when people get them as gifts. Really, the problem is more with me, I am not a creative person with my hands. Bracelets and necklaces are about all I can handle.
But you ladies and gents out there who make such wonderful things with everything under the sun, you might like these.
Or if any of you out there happen to be a Girl Scout leader… you might just possibly plant a seed of gardening wonder in a young girl’s mind.