Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Garden Fun with Favas Part 2 - Snap Fava Beans

A lot has happened in a few short weeks over here. In order to ensure that my greenhouse was getting sufficient light, I began chopping down the fava beans around the greenhouse. In the process of chopping, I discovered something.



The mighty Favas continue their upward progress



The first thing that I discovered was that bees were pollinating the fava beans.



Look closely and you will see a bee.




Slightly closer.



The second thing I discovered were that the fava beans were growing. A lot of them.






In fact, the fava beans were growing so much, that I could actually harvest some to try. Though I had heard that people do eat fava beans in their immature "snap" long bean stage, I had never tried this. There seem to be no recipes online or any indication that anyone had actually ever eaten snap fava beans and lived to tell the tale. So, being the ever-courageous gardener that I am, what do I do?







That's right - fava beans are on the menu. And why not? Once they start going into blossom the plants can quickly set dozens of beans on each plant - so here is the report:

 

This time: stir fry with a some melted butter




My report is that they are quite good. Given that I have tried both Chinese Long Beans and purple hyacinth bean (both of which require salt blanching) I was expecting the worst. My wife said they tasted like beans - not too bad. There is just a bit of a fresh asparagus aftertaste, but nothing like the old metallic asparagus aftertaste of the aforementioned beans. This aftertaste is quite pleasant, in comparison. We'll have to try them steamed next time.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Garden Fun with Favas

After reading up on and going through the work of harvesting, shelling, and de-skinning my fava bean crop last year, I decided that the flavor and texture made lima beans much more palatable. Though I know some people love eating fava beans, I have decided that fava beans will always possess another special place in my garden. Below is my garden in September.









Despite my best efforts to eat them, I was left with quite a lot of dried seed after growing out the favas last winter and spring.





Pictured here are the tree collards/perennial kale, lemon grass, green onions and a small bush of Marigold. The tomato plant in the background got attacked by squirrels (or cats) enough times that it fared very poorly. By October, I decided it was time to put in the winter crop.









After placing out all the fava bean seeds, I used a wooden pole to push the seeds deep enough to sprout well.




 


For some reason, I was unable to get to the photographing the plants until early February. The squirrels dug up and chewed on at least half a dozen seeds, but many managed to sprout.







 


These two pictures are of the favas in late February. Someone gave me some Arugula (Rocket) seed. I’m not much for these, but they cover the ground and outcompete any weeds that might consider springing up.




 

Now that it is March, the favas are beginning to flower. I have been considering cutting them back to keep from having to deal with the beans again this year.






 So – why did I waste my fertile garden space for fava beans? That's simple. For green manure. At the end of the season I’m planning on removing the plant tops at ground level at and cutting up the tops to incorporate with my composting fall leaves. The rocket (arugula) will pretty much share the same fate. The nitrogen-rich roots of the fava bean will be left in the soil to nourish the next summer crop of carosello cucumbers. The reason why I grow a green manure in the winter instead of a food crop is because I don’t get a lot of light in the winter and because of slugs.

It’s a good thing I planted a green manure instead of babysitting lettuce and carrots – especially with the wet winter that has enabled slugs and snails to dominate the landscape. After all, the slugs don’t care too much for fava or alliums like garlic and onions.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

School Winter Gardens

From time to time, as I travel around for my job, I have the splendid opportunity to view the gardens that are grown at various elementary schools. Here are a couple of the winter gardens that I have been able to visit.

The first set of pictures is from a garden that I saw recently in the Lafayette area.




Here are some winter greens or radishes. I'm not exactly sure.




Pictured here are some collards some spinach and some swiss chard.




Here is a loose head of Romanesco Broccoli




 A better view of the Swiss Chard



 
And there seems to be some kind of collard greens or other winter vegetable from the cabbage family.
 



This second group of photos is from a row of pea vines grown at an elementary school in Martinez. Some of the flowers are quite beautiful.














 I hope that as each of you prepares for this upcoming gardening season, that you are able to get everything ready and that you enjoy your garden.

Seller's Remorse

Though I really do love the cucumber varieties that I grow, my ability to sustain my little hobby Cucumber Shop is very limited.


 I really enjoy working to provide a high-quality product to others. It is no piece of cake to run a little hobby business. The amount of work needed to run the physical business while still enjoying the varieties I grow can be daunting. There is the acquisition or production of high-quality seed, there is the seed storage and keeping proper inventory, there is making of seed packets, figuring out shipping, dealing with selling on Etsy, shipping out at inconvenient times, there is the recent creation of a high-quality website and much much more.


After receiving a poor review on Etsy, in which the customer stated that the seed he purchased had 25% germination, I messaged and emailed the customer multiple times to take care of the problem. Then, after refunding the total purchase including shipping, I checked seed germination on a neighboring seed packet of the same seed and sent the following note with a replacement seed packet in a padded envelope:


 



Though I do all I can, the review remains. Etsy only shows reviews that took place in the last 12 months – meaning that each product in my Etsy shop is rated exclusively on that one poor review.



 


Testing Germination for seed that a customer said germinated poorly.
Honestly, I’m not sure how many years I will be able to sell my carosello and other cucumber seed varieties, but I am happy to continue to do so as long as I am able to. At times, it is very disheartening when this kind of thing happens – especially when there is little I can do to fix the problem. Perhaps I’ll close my Etsy shop for a while and try again later.

Monday, January 14, 2019

Tondo Barese Sementi

After growing out the Tondo Barese this year, I finally have a supply of seed to last me a little while.





Altogether, I have saved 329 grams or 11 5/8 ounces, or over 72% of a pound.




My Tondo Barese was pretty consistent. One of the white carosello was incredibly big (well over 2 pounds), but altogether all of my plants grew rather well.