Fava Beans for Fall 2012

| December 29, 2012

What to grow, now that the tomatoes are finished

With  the shortening days and the chilly nights along with these days of rain, it is time to transition our gardens.  First of all, if you still have tomatoes, get ready for your big harvest.  These rains really changed everything.   If you keep them in, they are bound to get some rot and or mold.  So take what you can.  Even green tomatoes can be used.  Fried green tomatoes are easy and delicious. (We made a huge batch of green tomato chutney last year, as 2011 wasn’t as good a year for ripe tomatoes, so there was an abundance of unripe green ones)

 

You may still be harvesting green beans and/or cucumbers and winter squash.  Maybe keep those plants going for another couple of weeks.  Again, I’d watch the stems and leaves for mold.  Probably your leafy greens are doing fine and may overwinter depending when you planted them.

I always plant fava beans, and this is a good time to do it.  It is a large seed.  Generally, you plant a seed as deep as it is long.  Fava bean plants can get very large if you grow them out for the beans.  (I mean very large for a bean, five feet tall and pretty bushy.)  Also as they grow in height, they tend to lean this way and that.  Consider staking up at the first of the year.  Many people grow them to fix nitrogen in the soil, which according to the experts, occurs when the plant is about half in flower.  If you are growing for the soil, you would harvest the plants at this stage, and put the stalks in the compost.  They may be 2-4 feet tall, but would not have gotten too gangly or out of control looking.  (Fava beans are a great immature material to grow to add to your compost pile in the Spring)

I discussed the nature of the fava bean plant, because one needs to consider this when thinking about where to plant fava beans in the garden.  Historically, I have planted them together in a bed or designated area, especially if I’m going to be harvesting the beans.  They can be interplanted (i.e. in a bed with other things growing) if you plan to harvest the stalks early.  If you are considering growing them for dry bean (to be re-constituted later or used for next years planting) I would plant them, if possible, a little out of the front line of sight, because as they grow to their full maturity (as with most plants) the leaves brown and wither and the plants get particularly unruly (again staking them would be a recommended option).

As for timeline of fava bean growth, I would expect to harvest fava beans at ½ flower (for the soil) in late February/March.  Green beans to eat fresh in April/May.  Then depending on the sun and heat, the seeds will mature in late May to June.  If you are thinking about what you want to grow next summer in the area of your garden that holds the fava beans, consider this timeline.  Maybe your garden plan will dictate what you are growing the fava beans for (whether it is early harvest, green beans or mature dry beans).

This is a great plant and delicious nutritious food.  Enjoy!

This holds true for all towns here on the San Francisco Bay Peninsula, including, Hillsborough, San Mateo, San Carlos, Belmont, Redwood City, Portola Valley, Woodside, Ladera, Los Altos, Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Mountain View, Cupertino,Sunnyvale.

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