Monday, April 26, 2010

Fava Beans Enjoy the Cool Snap

Favas like it cool and can remain hardy to the low 20s. It has been such a warm spring that I think the fava beans are displeased. Ours are putting out their first flowers finally. The variety is Broad Windsor, an English heirloom from the 1800s. Like most other legumes, favas fix nitrogen in the soil, so I am using them to try and stretch the use of the old potting soil from last year. Nitrogen fixation happens because of little Rhizobia bacteria living within the plants' root systems. When the plant dies, the fixed nitrogen is released and made available to the next plant that grows there. Adding inoculants of these bacteria to the seed before planting can make your favas produce tons o' nitrogen. Make sure you select the correct inoculant since there are different ones for different plants. I'm going to chop up the plants after we harvest the beans and dig them into the potting soil. Green manure on a small container scale!

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