Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bean and pea update: favas and much more

We are still celebrating the Year of Beans and Peas at the Derwood Demo Garden. Peas were slow to get going due to early cold temperatures, but luckily once it got hot it didn't stay hot, and we began harvesting in earnest this week. This year I finally gave in to catalog temptation and planted the Golden Sweet snow pea:

photo by Darlene Nicholson
It's a lovely pale yellow, and grows on long vines. Much shorter is the Dwarf Blauschokker:

photo by Darlene Nicholson
I've never succeeded in growing the regular long-vined Blauschokker, since it takes a season longer than we usually have available spring or fall, but these short ones are shaping up just fine - and such a wonderful color.

Regular green snap peas are also wonderful to have, especially when you plant them in a sugar snap pea box:


Our other early-to-harvest legume is the fava bean. I posted earlier this spring about different sowing times for favas. Well, the results are in, and the Extra Precoce a Grano Violetto beans started indoors and transplanted out in April have beaten the fall-sown favas to production.


photo by Darlene Nicholson
Here's a report on preparing the beans, from MG intern Joslyn Read:
I accepted a challenge to research and prepare a few of the fava beans that are starting to produce in the 100 square foot garden.  So many of us had heard they were a hassle to prepare and we thought it useful to check out the facts. 
Method:  First I shelled the beans out of the velvety pods (I brought home only about 15 pods for this trial, but the articles I am attaching recommend picking/buying about 1 pound of pods to make enough beans for one person).  It is really worth leaving the pods on the plant as long as possible, since the smaller pods had beans in them that were the size of my pinky fingernail.  I parboiled the beans for about 5-8 mins, then cooled them.  I popped the largest beans out of their waxy outer covering easily and they were very tender and tasty.  The smallest beans I tasted directly without taking off the outer covering and they were fantastic and tender (see the WSJ 2013 article below).  I am also attaching a photo of the resulting beans and one bean covering. 
photo by Joslyn Read
I can report they are absolutely delicious!!!  They are a bit more tedious to prepare, but worth every minute of it in my view.  The resulting beans have a lovely sweet pea taste and consistency.  They are also reported to be highly nutritious. 
This Mediterranean favorite (also a cherished Asian and Latin American vegetable used in stir fries and stews) is something we plan to plant now in our home garden.
Articles consulted by Joslyn were:

How to Prepare & Cook Fava Beans - DeLallo
How to Cook Fava Beans - Chef in You
How to Pick, Clean and Prepare Fava Beans - The Kitchn
Stop Peeling Those Fava Beans - Wall Street Journal

We'll have much more to report on later! For a teaser, here is one of our Asian bean beds in progress (much thanks to MG Ram Narula for taking charge of planting it).


That's adzuki beans at the rear, a bush-type long bean called Stickless Wonder in the middle, and chickpeas to the front. Closeup of the chickpeas with their delicate foliage:


We also have mung beans, soybeans, hyacinth beans, and more long beans climbing a trellis, along with many different types of American Phaseolus beans. I'll get back to you when they start producing!

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