Friday, March 27, 2009

Harvesting & Cooking Fava Beans in the K-2 Garden

Amy had more garden fun with Miss Karen's 2nd graders, this time harvesting some fava beans!

Everyone had a great time harvesting and shucking the beans...

...collecting a big bowl of husks...

...and a big bowl of beans...

...which was then prepared and cooked by Amy and Daleth.

Some fava bean facts:
Known as Féve in French, Garten-Bohnen in German, Valske Bonner in Danish, Hava in Spanish, the Fava Bean has been cultivated for centuries and is still considered a staple of the Mediterranean diet. Also known in English as the Broad Bean or Horse Bean, it was the only bean known to Europe before contact with the new world. Remnants of favas have been found in archeological sites and medieval peasants made a purée of favas seasoned with a bit of salt pork.

The fava resembles such shelled beans as limas and butterbeans, but it is actually more closely related to the pea family. Although available in their dried form, fresh favas are very difficult to find in supermarkets—farmers markets are the most dependable source for the freshest beans.

Many farmers plant a small-seeded variety of favas as a winter cover crop because they are very cold hardy, and because (like peas and beans) they are a legume and have the ability to fix nitrogen in the soil.

~ from Whistling Train Farm

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Second Grade Growing & Harvesting

Miss Karen's Second Graders have been reaping the benefits of all the hard work they have been doing in the K-2 Garden throughout this school year.

For the past two months now, we have been harvesting & eating lettuce, carrots & radishes. The kids say everything tastes great ! The most exciting part of all this work, is definitely pulling out the carrots. There is nothing like pulling on the green foliage and then finding that there is a big orange surprise on the other end.

Last winter in the garden we didn't have much success with carrots, but we learned this year that radish's & carrots are companion plants. If you plant a carrot seed with a radish seed next to it, and continue on that way, they seem to thrive together. The radish germinates right away, within a week's time and grows to harvest within 30 days. During that time the carrot seeds slowly germinate underneath the foliage of the radishes. Once you harvest your radishes, the carrots take over and are ready in about 60 to 70 days, a long time to wait, but in the end we think its worth it !

Our edible garden plans started this past fall in October after we visited LaMilpa Organic Farm for a field trip. While we were there we learned about the difference between soil & dirt. Soil has living things in it to help a plant thrive, while dirt has nothing in it. We also had a great time tasting different types of greens at the farm and really got excited about planting our own.

When we got back to our own school garden, we got busy adding healthy soil (compost), then we sketched out the plan for everything we wanted to grow from seed. Last year we planted quite a bit of plants that were already started so we really wanted to try seeds and transform our spot into a mini Second grade farm.

What we learned;
~The beets, spinach and chives did not germinate and grow. We think it is because chives needed warmer weather and we just are not sure about the spinach & beets yet, but are working on it.

~We learned how to harvest lettuce by cutting the leaves that are ready to eat on the outside and leaving the baby leaves in the center to grow for the following weeks salad. We also learned how to plant new seeds every other week to keep new lettuce plants growing to replace the old. We also practiced this with carrots & radishes.

~We learned which plants are weeds, and there are several kinds of those popping up everywhere to keep busy hands at work.

~We learned how far away to plant seeds from each other so they have enough room to grow, and how to thin the seedlings after they germinate, in case they are to close together.

~ We also learned that Fish Emulsion smells really yucky, but it helps our plants grow, we used it once a month since January.

We have also planted Fava Beans along the back fence of the garden, those were planted in October and are almost ready to harvest. In addition we planted sugar snap pea's along the fence and the tee-pee, and have been eating those all along, very sweet and yummy. Along the outside fence for some color we planted one of our favorites, Iceland Poppies.

We even have journals to document what we have done !

If you are a Parent or Grandparent at our school and want to help your child's teacher start their mini-classroom farm, please contact me and I can get your started !