Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Eating our Green manure Crop!

Each year we aim to plant at least one of our vegetable areas with a green manure crop. However, we often find that other tasks are more demanding and we don’t always get a crop in the ground. This year though, we excelled in the green manure department and actually planted three beds; two with barley and one with broad beans.
Heather hoeing in the barley
All three crops germinated well and the plan was to cut the crops down when they were still quite young and let all the organic material decompose; effectively becoming a green fertiliser for the next crop. We cut the two beds of barley back as planned, forked it in with a good sprinkling of blood and bone and left it for 4-5 weeks to allow the decomposition process to work. This apparently adds phosphate to the soil and encourages a rich life force of microbial activity . Compost was added on top, then we planted two beds of tomatoes that Heather grew from seed. The beds were well mulched. So far the plants look stronger and more vibrant than previous crops, so our hopes are for a bumper crop. We will have to do an update when they are ready to harvest.

However with the broad beans, things did not proceed as originally planned. When we saw how beautiful the plants looked, we couldn’t bring ourselves to cut them down. We love eating broad beans and our taste buds convinced us to let them grow to maturity.
The broad bean crop
We were not disappointed; we have been having feasts of broad beans for weeks now, and still the beans keep coming. We have sold quite a lot at our market stall but as they ripen when the weather warms up people tend to eat less cooked food and more salads. So we have had an excess which has stimulated a bit of cooking creativity. Our favourite recipes are Broad Bean Dip (Moroccan dip) and Broad Beans with tomato, onion and basil sauce on gnocchi. The newest recipe Heather has come up with is ....steamed broad beans, cooled, then tossed with olive oil and lemon juice.....great with salads. Having eaten many kilos of broad beans we have turned into “human beans”.
The growing pods
We have competitions to see who can prong the most steamed broad beans on their fork, who can pod 1kg of broad beans in the shortest time, who can balance the greatest number of broad beans seeds on on top of the other on a solid flat surface, who can make a single broad bean spin for longer than 3 seconds.
Delicious Broad Bean Dip

We looked forward so much to tasting and eating the first broad beans of the season. Now we are really grateful that this wonderful bean is seasonal in our climate, and it will soon be replaced in our diet by the delicious climbing green bean......Can’t wait...Yum!

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