I read last fall that planting cover crops - fava beans, bell beans, peas, vetch (whatever that is) and such - enriches your soil naturally. As I planned to dramatically expand my veggie growing possibilities, I dove in. We ripped up our sidewalk strip and planted a cover crop mixture, which bloomed beautiful and lush in the spring and housed a toad all winter long. In my back yard, I planted a passel of fava beans, which strode determinedly through muddy, clay soil and reached for the watery winter sun through January and February. As the weather warms and the buds pop out, however, you are supposed to cut your cover crop back to the ground - when about 50% of the flowers are in bloom. That means that all that growing won't yield any beans or peas and just a smattering of delicate purple, white and black blossoms.
I dutifully trimmed back my front yard cover crop and gradually replaced it with squash and beans. Ever the rebel, though, I let the fava beans in my back yard go, sprawling across strawberries and penstemon. I haven't been the most successful of vegetable gardeners and, darn it, I wanted some sort of reward. I got it this month when I went to check on the potatoes' progress. Behind the stretching potato plants, fuzzy green pods stood erect like little . . . well, little soldiers, pointing out from the fava bean bushes.
We harvested our bean pods, gently twisting them off and tossing them into my thrift store find - a basket built for backyard harvests. This week, we've enjoyed both fava bean crostini with locally baked baguettes and local wine and mashed, homegrown Yukon golds (oh yeah, baby! my first potatoes ever) and fava beans, sauteed in their pods in local olive oil and salt.
With local eating this easy, my One Local Summer will be one Favapalooza.