Tag Archives: fava bean

Saint John’s Eve Felafels

Yesterday was St. John’s Eve and many Norwegians (and other Scandinavians) celebrated what is known here as Sankthans or Jonsok with communal bonfires, the big midsummer celebration. Sankt Hans is a short form of Sankt Johannes. There is a special perennial onion which was traditionally harvested on this day in the Netherlands, which I believe to have a much large potential than its current status as a local food crop, as it is so much easier to grow, in particular in areas increasingly suffering from summer droughts and water shortages and avoids common pests of onions and shallots by its early growth and perhaps also resistance. If nothing else, it complements shallots and onions in that it is available much earlier in the year!
There is genetic evidence that St. John’s onion (Johannes-løk) has a unique triparental origin A. × cornutum with three putative parental species, A. cepa, A. pskemense, and A. roylei. Hardiness is probably bestowed by hardy Allium pskemense which has been growing in the Ringve Botanical Gardens in Trondheim for many years. A similar hybrid has been found both in Germany, Croatia and India. It was perhaps more widely cultivated in the past and these are just remnant populations. On 21st June I harvested the Croatian accession from the Onion Garden Chicago at the Ringve Botanical garden which had been left for two years resulting in hundreds of tightly packed onions and on 22nd June from the World Garden at the Væres Venner Community Garden. I replanted in both gardens single bulbs separated by about 10cm. in a roughly circular patch.
Last night, St. John’s Eve, I started a vegetarian midsummer tradition by making St. John’s Felafels with dried broad beans stored since the autumn and golpar spice (from dried seeds of a mix of Heracleum sp.).
See more about Johannes’ shallot at https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=22601

Broad Bean Land Race

First and second harvest of broad beans for drying to eat and next year’s seed. This is my “Væres Venner Mix” land race selected for maximum bean diversity each year –  a joy to work with and candy for the eyes! The first sowing (first picture) were sown on 18th May and harvested on 19th September; the second sowing was on 2nd June and were harvested on 24th September (both were 5 different colour selections from last year’s crop; sown in 5 adjacent rows!)

Selecting for a local early broad bean

I sowed broad (fava) bean / bondebønner (Vicia faba) seed indoors yesterday as there’s still snow where I’d planned to put them outside. In addition to my late broad bean grex with a mix of colours, I thought it would also be worthwhile to start developing a local early variety which could also potentially be useful in more marginal areas such as North Norway and mountain areas. I’m starting with 4 early varieties, two from IPK Gatersleben: 1) Expresse Zeer Vroege Witkiem (meaning “very early white germ (seed)” (FAB424), Express (FAB 7066), my own selection of the commercial variety Express which I’ve grown as my early sort for some years and another purportedly early variety De Monica from Chiltern Seeds. I’ll select mainly for earliness and seed size.

Broad Bean Diversity contributes to Resilience

Broad beans (favas / bondebønner) will easily cross with other varieties that are growing nearby.  In order to keep a variety pure, you need to isolate them physically. I’ve chosen a different strategy and manage to maintain a mix of different bean colour and size forms by selecting for these characteristics every autumn. This automatically gives different flower colours too (broad beans are beautiful enough to be included in the edimental category and are also edi-ento-mentals as they are also extremely popular with bumblebees). Here are my selections which I made yesterday after drying the beans for storage.

Each form will be stored separately and each variety will be planted close to each other in a large block of beans containing many different forms! I think that diversity within a species also contributes to a good harvest with better bean set. I have never had a crop failure using my own home saved mix of beans. I don’t offer the different forms as named varieties, but as a mix or composite “Væres Venner* Mix” through the KVANN / Norwegian Seed Savers yearbook (kvann.no) in February so that others can also select for separate forms!
*Væres Venner is the community garden where most are grown.
See also this post showing the diversity of flowers that produced these beans: https://www.edimentals.com/blog/?p=26183

Broad Bean Mix

Broad beans (favas / bondebønner) will easily cross with other varieties that are growing nearby.  In order to keep a variety pure, you need to isolate them physically. I like to have different varieties with different coloured flowers and bean colour in additon to maintaining early yielding varieties such as Express. I’ve found that I can plant different forms close together and if I save separately beans with different colour and bean size and mark for saving plants with particularly nice flower colours, then I can maintain a good mix in the same place. The flower forms below are all growing within a few metres in the Væres Venner community garden. They were grown from the mix of beans saved at the same place in 2018 (first picture). I don’t offer the different forms as named varieties, but as a mix or composite “Væres Venner Mix” so that others can also select for separate forms! Bumble bees were all over the flowers when I was there!

Broad bean diversity 2018

Broad (fava) bean diversity 2018! This was the first harvest at Væres Venner community garden in Trondheim! This is the only (and original) bean for making falafel and hummus! We should be growing large areas of this bean here in Norway for food security and climate friendly vegan food. It annoys me how little self-sufficient Norway is in particular in vegetarian food when it doesn’t need to be that way!


Felafel: first harvest from the KVANN garden at Væres Venner!

The first harvest at the KVANN vegetable sanctuary garden at Væres Venner was broad beans (bondebønner) from a mixed grex and this was turned into delicious falafels that almost melt in the mouth! The year’s first falafels or hummus is a real highlight of my gardening year…and did you know that the original falafels and hummus were made using broad (fava) beans, sadly replaced by inferior (in my opinion) chick peas….and we can experience this dish fresh even in cold areas where other beans won’t grow!
AND the colour is a natural beautiful green inside….they are often made with some leafy green vegetable added to supply the greeness of the “real” falafel!
NB! Falafel doesn’t have to be ball shaped and deep fried…these are pattie shaped and shallow fried..