Monday, March 22, 2010

Fava Bean Envy

While driving through town, I noticed a front yard vegetable garden with fava beans about five feet tall, complete with blossoms. And in the community garden that abuts the nature area where C. and I take our weekly rambles, there are some almost as tall. Back home, the seeds I planted on February 28 are just starting to come up, only a few inches high so far.

I do admire those tall beautiful fava bean plants in other people's gardens. Although, if envy is in order, I am most envious of my own plants from last year. In the fall of 2008, I happened to see some seedlings at a local nursery and bought them as a cover crop, having read somewhere that that's how they are used. The label said they were "Windsors."

By spring they were eight feet tall and thriving. The photo is from March 21, 2009, a year ago precisely. The tall plants at the back are the favas. Rather than dig them in I let them keep growing to see what they would do. It was the first time I'd grown favas so I was curious.

It was quite a show. They put forth an abundance of astonishing white blossoms, pale lavender at the base with black polka dots on the main petals. The flowers were swarmed by fat bumblebees. Maybe the dots are supposed to look like bumblebees and create the appearance of a crowd, just as a restaurant likes to look crowded to attract more patrons.

The blossoms gave way to enormous green pods filled with large shapely seeds. Eventually, when the beds were needed for summer plantings, I uprooted everything and put it on the brush heap. There was way too much biomass for the compost bin.

We'll see what happens this year with a spring planting. The seeds are also Windsors, which, as it turns out, is an eating variety. If these plants make it to the harvesting stage, we can try eating the beans; if not, more biomass. The seed packet says they can be planted in early spring "when the crocus emerge" and that's what I did, so hopes are high.