My overwintered favas did well despite being damaged by frost a few times. I always harvest them all at once. I find it too difficult otherwise. The day I harvested the lot, I grilled some up in the pods and we opened them at the table and ate them with the interior shells on. If you pick younger ones, you can eat the whole thing like this when they are super fresh. Very nice for harvest day. The rest I blanch and freeze with the interior shells on. Then when I want to use them I defrost and shell. The interior shell protects then when frozen.
[surl='https://permies.com/t/57161/Photos-Joseph-Lofthouse-Garden' class='api' title='Joseph Lofthouse's Garden wrote:Joseph Lofthouse[/surl]]Here's what one of my fava bean patches looked like this week. The plants are about 3 feet tall. I planted 3 patches: One last fall, one via transplants this spring, and one direct seeded this spring. This patch is the transplants put in the ground a day or two after winter snow-cover melted. It seems to have done the best.
About fava transplanting: How old were the transplants? Do you recommend this?
Fava transplants are easy to grow. They transplant well. They get an earlier start on the growing season. An early start is critical for me, because once the weather turns hot, the flowers don't set seed in my garden.
I like setting out plants that are 3 to 6 weeks old.
I've seen some people (including a Tribune and various people online) saying fava beans are perennials while others say it is an annual (Poster r ranson said "just idling dreaming. What would it be like to have a perennial fava bean?" so it seems not but I'll still ask) . I didn't know who was wrong. I know plenty that think that many crops are annuals that are just treated like annuals (potatoes, onions, etc). I got some seeds anyways since they are frost tolerant and seemed good in many other measurables but the perennial part would make these total winners. It is zone 7 and some sites say it can survive down to 10 degrees or -10 degrees and another says 15 degrees. We almost never get cold in the low teens. I'm just a bit confused how anyone said they were perennials if they aren't.
Benjamin, isn’t that what the discipline of semantics seeks to understand?
It seems there’s a change in word meanings in the world of plants and horticulture and so forth. As a botanist 50 years ago, I was trained that an annual is a plant that can complete its whole life cycle in one year. Seed to flower to fruit/seed again. Biennial takes one year to store up as much food as it can. The next year it puts up leaves again and makes as many seeds as it can, and is done. And a perennial requires an indeterminate amount of time to mature enough to make seeds. And then makes seeds for many years.
Now when I go to the nursery people say it’s an annual when they mean that the local winter will kill it. Let’s take the case of geraniums in the climate of their origin, they live and bloom for years and years and years. A perennial. In a climate with a freezing winter the winter kills it and if you want geraniums next year you plant them again. (Or like a good permie, bring them in, propagate cuttings indoors over the winter)
In the killing winter situation there are nurseries who call that an annual. I got frustrated one day and said so if I was asking about olive trees you would call them an annual because I’d have to replant every year. ( I’m not always a popular or polite person!😉)
So as for why people would call a fava bean perennial… It comes down to what do they mean by perennial, and what’s happening in their garden.
Without standardized terminology, you just have to ask “what do you mean by perennial?”
By the terminology I was taught, whether or not a person lives in a climate so mild the winter doesn’t kill fava beans, they can go from seed to seed in one growing season, and that makes them annuals.
My understanding is that a perennial can stay alive after it's finished making seeds, and make seeds again in a future year. That's different from an annual or biennial, which completes its natural life cycle and dies after making seeds.
This is the way the terms are used for Brassica oleracea, at least. An annual can make seeds before winter comes (broccoli and cauliflower), a biennial needs to overwinter before making seeds (cabbage, kale, brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, etc.), and a perennial will stay alive after making seeds and overwinter at least one more year and make seeds again (perennial kales and perennial broccolis).
I tend to think that's the most useful definition, because many perennials can make seeds in their first year. Many of them are from tropical climates, and we grow them like annuals in temperate climates. They're still perennials, though, because their natural life cycle is many years long -- they just happen to be tender perennials.
So a perennial fava bean would be capable of making seeds in its first year, and then overwintering and making seeds again. That would be awesome! Two harvests from one plant! I know runner beans are capable of that in climates that have warm enough winters. I haven't heard of any fava beans doing that, but I'd totally want seeds if a variety like that exists.
Location: Somewhere about 100 miles north east of Redding California
It's probably a trait that's findable in most perennial species, just rare. I know Mark Shepard plants nut seeds all over his property, and sometimes finds nut trees that produce nuts in their first year. (He tends to save those seeds and plant them in hopes of getting more trees like that, of course.)
As for wild plants, I'm not sure how many set seeds in their first year consistently. Most plants I know are are domesticated, or semi-domesticated. Here's what I can think of off the top of my head.
- Some wild banana species, especially short ones that are adapted to temperate climates. (Yes, those exist! I'm collecting those seeds because I'm planning to cross them to try to get a temperate-friendly landrace going. )
- Tomatoes, of course, and peppers, and plenty of other nightshades, like Solanum habrochaites.
- Fig-leaf gourd.
- Chayote. (Although chayote is weird -- it's viviparous, so its whole fruit is the seed!)
By the way, I suspect a lot of what we call "biennials" are actually winter annuals -- they complete their whole life cycle within one year and die after making seeds once. There just happens to be a winter in the middle of their life cycle.
author & steward
Location: Cache Valley, zone 4b, Irrigated, 9" rain in badlands.