Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Fall and spring-sown fava beans

Fava beans are a Mediterranean crop that can be difficult to grow in our climate of wide temperature swings in springtime - "too cold to sprout" turns very quickly to "too hot to thrive." Kent's recent post showed us a good way to get a head start on favas: pre-sprout them to speed germination and growth. Here are a couple of other methods we're trying at the Derwood demo garden.

First, fall-sown favas:

Last fall (late September or early October) I planted about an 8-foot row of fava beans (actually, it was three sides of a square, since I had to fit it in around the cucumber trellis, but let's call it a row). I had read a while ago in Adrian Higgins' column that favas could be planted in fall and winter over. If I recall correctly, his died over the 2013-14 winter, but that was after all a very cold winter, and I figured I'd give it a try. Well, we had another very cold winter, but some of my plants stayed green all through it, and I now have about five survivors (there were more a few weeks ago, but a few got weeded out by mistake, and a few others didn't like our recent roller-coaster temperatures) which hopefully should produce beans before things get too toasty and the aphids start attacking.

Fava beans started inside:

Here are some of the favas that MG Mary Anne Normile started inside for the 100-square foot garden. (They have a beautiful new design this year!) This is a variety called Extra Precoce a Grano Violetto, which as the name implies are early to mature (and also purple). We hope that they will push the season equally well, especially with the bonus of germinating inside and not having to wait for ideal outside soil temperature. They are already working on getting tall, whereas my plants are still hunkered down near the ground - but given some nice weather I'm sure they'll catch up soon.

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