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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Two beautiful Beans -- Fava & Scarlet Runner Beans

What are we going to plant right now? Not many beans are cool season crops 
Fava  Beans- Vicia Faba
These two  beans you can plant in the fall are scarlet runner bean and fava (or broad bean). Some beans are low water, some are not. The most ancient ones were selected in arid climates like our own,  and  aren’t thirsty.

If you are going to grow vegetables in your back (or front)  yard , raised beds with lots of free compost from your municipal recycling program, and  a  gray water [i] system  is the way to go in So Cal.Otherwise using a lot of water to grow vegetables in your yard doesn’t make sense. Just go to the Farmer’s Market!

However, an informal grey water system can be as simple as recycling the water from one bathtub by using a sump pump, an open window and a hose to your raised bed. If you recycle the water from one tub, by saving all the shower and bath water that 2 people use, you’ll  harvest  enough water.

Scarlet Runner-(p. coccineus)
In Europe Haricot d'Espagne, haricot écarlate

Soo-oo, grey water system in place, we’re ready to consider--- our beans.)  Some of the easiest and most prolific (like Scarlet Runner Bean, p. coccineus) )  take a moderate amount of water. Being scarlet, it attracts hummingbirds.

 The Scarlet Runner( Nahuatl "ayocotl" or in Spanish "ayocote’) originated in Mexico, around 2000 years ago….remains were found in Tehuacan in the Valley of Tehuacan”) Semi-arid, and on the warm side with  6-8 dry months. . Maize was also grown here.. Tehuacan was notable for being the site where the remains were found of the oldest domesticated corn in the world, (up to 5,000 years B.C.).

Does this climate sound familiar? Scarlet Runners are often discussed as "tropical" but that's misleading as like many plants from arid regions of Mexico, runners follow the rain pattern.

You don’t want to eat these beans uncooked, as the Runner beans contain traces of the poisonous lectinPhytohaemagglutinin  which is destroyed in cooking.

 You can even eat the root as they do in Central America It’s a climber that can be used to create shade for something that won’t take full sun in summer when the beans are creating a scarlet curtain.. Chard, parsley, fennel, artichokes  and  any of the greens  might like the relief  from full sun.

Fava Beans
You might never have encountered a fava bean unless you are Italian or Middle Eastern. However you might easily have had them in falafel.

 Fava are native to North Africa and SW Asia (W) and they are very ancient (6.500 B.C )  and very easy to grow. They were a staple in N. Europe until displaced by the potato. 

 Fava means “broad” in Italian, and that’s another name for them.Italians are pretty passionate about their favas—favas can be harvested in spring if planted in the fall, and even the young leaves can be eaten like spinach. You can fry them, puree’ them, make bean paste out of them )

The Arabs eat them for breakfast as Ful Medames as the breakfast dish for Ramadan served with pita bread and a fried egg.

...and mad dogs and Englishman go out in the noonday sun...." 

Grow favas now:In mild climates such as Southern California… sow fava beans in the fall, and patiently wait 150-180 days later, for harvest in spring. Fava beans are a legume, and require a long, cool growing season....."

 Territorial Seeds carry the seed as Broad Windsor Bean and Harris Seed has it as “Broad Improved Long Pod  and Heirloom Seeds has them as Fava Beans

Grow them as you would green peas. 

Bird News : the gold finches are migrating south along the Cenral Coast. They'd appreciate a sockful of nyger seed. If you put out the seed you'll have lots--they tell their friends!


Note: Susan Carpenter, columnist for the LA Times  who has been doing green projects for the last year at her home, evaluated the projects in terms of success and economy. Grey water came out on top.(,10/17/2010).
2 from Beans, A History by Ken Albala, Berg, NYC,NY  2007

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