To Bean, or not to Bean….

Peppers interplanted with fava beans.

I’d been looking at the fava beans, or broad beans, for several days, feeling the pods and wondering if I should pick them. But, since I was already dealing with peas, strawberries, beets, elderblow and broccoli I dillydallied and procrastinated. Then it rained, which was indeed a blessing, and much appreciated. While the rain fell, I did a little “computer gardening” and watched a recent episode of “Gardeners’ World” with Monty. When I saw him with a patch of broad beans, I perked up and listened carefully. Monty said when the Solstice arrives, if one hasn’t picked the broad beans it should be done because whatever is there is it, and there’s no use letting them deteriorate. Not his exact words, or with his lovely accent, but there it was. If Monty was picking all his favas, then my favas should be picked as well.

Not every fava plant that I’d grown in elegant toilet paper tubes had survived (yes, even I have a failure or two now and then!) and needing space, I’d planted some lovely pepper plants in the empty spots. Now the peppers were feeling crowded, so I’d been eyeing the favas with that also in mind. So as soon as the rain stopped, with one of my bright green harvest baskets in hand, I hurried to the potager.

Lots of luscious pods in there!

The pods were of varying length and thickness. And, I noticed that all the more recent flowers had just dried up and turned black without forming pods. Those 90 degree and dry days just did them in, despite my watering efforts. Soon, my basket was filled and the bed was cleared of fava plants.

Doesn’t that look better?

The pepper plants breathed a sigh of relief that the “thug” broad beans were gone and immediately stretched their leaves. Over 7 lbs. of pods were harvested (from 2 beds) , and a nice load of hefty plants was added to the compost. This is the best fava harvest I’ve had. Only “Robin Hood” seeds were used this year. After four years of planting it and others, it was easy to see that only this dwarf, fast-maturing variety has any degree of hope in our crazy, erratic central Indiana weather. The difference in yield, I attribute to a change in my watering strategy regarding favas…LOTS more water more often. I treated them more like a tomato than a bean, and I think it was key. Those notes go in my journal on the fava page, so that I’ll remember it next year. (I always think I will, and usually I do, but sometimes actually, I don’t! Sigh!) Many locals think I am crazy to even try to grow broad beans, but I fell in love with them in England and Italy and even if the yield is only one or two meals, it’s worth the trouble to me.

Now, the keen eyed readers will have noted the disparity in size in the row of alpine strawberries on the right edge of bed 2b that is now a fava-free zone. More about that in an upcoming post! Meantime, I’m off to do all those tasks on my “After A Rain” list. Hope you have a wonderful and productive day.


About carolee

A former professional herb and lavender grower, now just growing for joy in my new potager. When I'm not in the garden, I'm in the kitchen, writing, or traveling to great gardens.
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11 Responses to To Bean, or not to Bean….

  1. Peg says:

    Love fava beans! I grew them for a couple of years, they did pretty good but like you, only got a couple of meal’s worth. They are so pretty after you “squirt” them out of their shells!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. maybeillbecomeafarmer says:

    Interested to watch “Gardeners’ World”! I loved his “Big Dreams Small Spaces” show but didn’t know about this one!


    • carolee says:

      I just happened onto a link from another garden blogger. Didn’t even know I could get episodes here! I haven’t seen any of the Big Dreams Small Spaces, but did watch some of the Chelsea Flower show videos. Happy Gardening!


  3. My seedling broad beans are waiting to be planted out this weekend – first weekend after winter solstice. I usually give away most of my harvest because I’m the only one in the family that eats them, although showing my daughter how they were all tucked into their pale green sleeping-bag finally got her to try one. I never tire of seeing them nestled in the fluffy interior of the pods.

    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      I wish they would winter over here, as I’m certain it would greatly increase my yields. Maybe with global warming someday it will happen, but that would bring an entire range of other problems, so I’d better NOT wish for it after all! Maybe someone will develop a hardier broad bean! Enjoy your winter “rest.”


  4. Going Batty in Wales says:

    I now grow field beans which are an old type with smaller pods and beans. They are suitable for drying as well as eating/ I hope they ignore Monty – during the long hot dry spell they didn’t die but didn’t grow either and now we have had rain they are finally flowering. I will be disappointed if I don’t get any. Ho Hum! there’s always next year!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Artisan says:

    I enjoyed reading your post about broad beans. I’m glad you’ve had a good crop this year.

    However, while I hesitate to disagree with such an eminent authority as Monty Don (I didn’t realize that his fame had spread to your side of the Atlantic!), I have to say that my experience is rather different. I always practise succession sowing (sowing in small batches spaced out during the season) with my legumes, so that I can get a more or less continuous supply right through the summer. This year, for example, I sowed five separate batches of broad beans, one in January in the polytunnel, one in seed trays for transplantation into the open in March, and three direct into the soil, in April, May and June respectively. This year I’ve been harvesting broad beans more or less continuously since the start of June, and while the early sowings have now come to an end, the later ones are still going strong. In previous years I’ve carried on harvesting broad beans until late August. I hope this year will be no exception.

    I realize your climate is significantly different from ours, so I’ve no idea whether this would work for you. But it certainly does for me!


    Liked by 1 person

    • carolee says:

      I’m really glad for your input. I’m a huge fan of succession cropping, so I’ll give it a try. Of course, they don’t overwinter here, and that June sowing might be iffy to get mature before frost here, but what the heck, it’s only a few seeds. Space is always an issue here, despite the size of my potager, because of so many succession plantings and so many crops I like to grow. I do thank you for taking the time to comment!


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