Saturday, February 7, 2009

Fava Beans

Here is a nice article on Fava beans, they look like a great crop to help our nitrogen-poor soil. Fava beans are not that heat-friendly, and should be planted in October/November or January/February here in AZ. (Why not December? I don't know! I am going to try it this year, just to see what happens...)

Fava beans are classified as legumes because they produce a "bean," and because they fix nitrogen in the soil. Garden beans (p. vulgaris) and peas will fix 60 to 80 pounds of nitrogen per acre, clovers up to 100 pounds, and fava’s the best of all-- up to 200 pounds of nitrogen per acre. Sixty pounds of nitrogen per acre is enough to feed a succeeding crop of beets, carrots, etc. One-hundred pounds will feed corn, lettuce, or squash. Two-hundred pounds of nitrogen per acre is sufficient to grow the heaviest feeders.

Fava’s are excellent at rejuvenating older garden sites. One-third of the plot can be overwintered with fava’s twice, with the second season's crop being tilled under in spring as green manure, followed by row crops. Then another third of the garden can be rotated into favas, etc.

Fava beans may grow 6 feet high by early spring, and make excellent silage or green manure. They are very tolerant of heavy, wet winter clay soils. Their extensive root system breaks up soil to 2 feet deep, and brings up soluble nutrients from 10 feet deep.

For human consumption, fava beans can be harvested very early (say February or March) and eaten as with peas, pod and all. As the beans mature in the pod, they can be eaten as shelled lima beans. When mature and dried, they can be preserved easily without any special preservation techniques or energy consumption, and used in place of lima beans in any lima recipe. Since fava’s usually require little fertilizer or irrigation, and can be consumed at various stages in their growth, they may well considered an excellent survival food crop.

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