The green fava beans are swelling in their pods. Ah, shelly fava beans simmered with garlic scapes or green garlic. Harvest the bottom favas first. If you leave them, they will turn into dry beans, but it will take until late August. As they age, the beans first develop a tough outer skin, which slides off after cooking. Then they harden into dry beans. The pods dry and shatter, so you want to get your favas in as soon as the beans are hard and let them finish drying under cover. Then you can store them or save the seed for your own cover crop.
After they are dry, clean your beans by taking the pods off and then putting the beans in a sifter or sieve and shaking off the dust, pod debris and bug bits. A simple hand sifter available at ethnic grocery stores works well. Home dried beans may have a little bug action. A simple fix is to seal them up in a waterproof container and freeze them for a couple of weeks. Then let them come up to room temperature in the unopened container and transfer them to a jar. A bay leaf in the jar with your beans will keep the bugs away.
Check your home dried beans monthly and plan to eat them over the winter. It's difficult to get beans down to a uniform low moisture level at home. If they get a little yellow powdery mold on the beans in storage, it's not toxic but the shelf life is over. Check over and remove any funky ones, rinse off the powder and cook them up. You can freeze the extra.
If you have some European ancestors, fava beans are your heritage. The old world beans are favas, peas, lentils and chickpeas, all originating in a large blob area in southwest Asia and the eastern Mediterranean. Favas, peas and lentils are cool weather beans. This is great for the Northwest. We have lots of coolish weather. The Palouse, which overlaps eastern Washington, Oregon and Idaho, grows most of the pulses for the whole country. The dry conditions discourage pulse diseases.
Fall planted favas may survive. I find they do better with a nurse crop of oats. Plant a mixed handful of oats and favas in November. It might turn out to be a cover crop instead of beans. In February, the main fava crop goes in for fresh and dried beans. Favas are upright, so you get a surprisingly good harvest from a garden bed. I plant Banner, which can go to six feet and sets heavy pods of smaller beans. Windsor is the traditional eating fava, but the big beans don't yield as much food per plant.
Lentils and chickpeas are delicate little vines. On a garden scale, they are mainly good for practice recognizing the different growth stages. The yield from a bed fits in your hands. Lentils were prized in the ancient world for their delicious taste. Lentils are such a bugger to harvest and clean that they must have also been grown for their value as a convenience food. They are the only pulse that cooks in under an hour.
Despite all the work involved in growing dried beans, they have always been a portable, long storing way to time shift food energy. Beans and pulses have 1500 calories a pound.
Everson has a new farm stand. Joy Monjure, a laid off City of Bellingham employee, opened Field of Greens at the bend where Everson Road turns into Kale Road on the way out of town. She's working with four local farmers to provide the fresh organic goodies. It's a tad tricky to find: slow down going around the curve. The entrance is through the mini-storage place, onto an apron of chips. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
The Breckenridge farm stand is at the other end of Everson on Main Street. The cream top (non-homogenized) milk was rated "that's really good" by my taste test panel. They also have butter, cream, and the best soft serve ice cream that I have ever had, made from their own milk. 10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m. M-S
Farther out of town is La Gloria Market at 7310 Everson Goshen Rd. A nice selection of spices, many varieties of chilis and dried goods in the back corner, groceries, Spanish language videos, Mexican style milk candy and soft pastries, run by very nice people. Just walking in the door induces Tex-Mex border culture deja vu all over again. Co-located with the market is Taqueria El, run by a cheerful Spanish speaking lady named Erin. Go figure. Erin makes everything from scratch, the salsas (mild and killer), the rice and beans, the fillings for the tacos and burritos. Taqueria El is worth a pilgrimage to Everson just for the salsa and Erin's real Tex Mex tacos. Not large, not expensive, just flavorful grilled meat on a double corn tortilla with a fresh garnish. Excellent burritos in the Northwest tradition (if you can eat the whole thing, you're either working hard with your hands or nursing a baby.)
Check it out.