Bean by any other name

I’m a bit of a lazy gardener in the winter, so I like growing things that need little help. If they’re good for next year’s summer garden, then all the better.

That’s just where fava beans come in. Also known as broad, horse, tick, pigeon and silkworm beans, I love the little green morsels in the spring, with their tiny cockscombs on one end.

I learned recently, though, that they’re great for adding nitrogen to the soil. Mike Eaton, who has a farmlet in Galt on the edge of the Nature Conservancy preserve, gave me a bagful last spring. He said to just toss them into the garden as I cleared out my summer plants and let them grow unattended. Like many beans, they’ll richen the soil and provide plenty of green matter for tilling under, if you do that sort of thing.

I might be a trifle late putting them in the ground now, but I can sow more seeds in February to get a head start on beans for eating next spring.