Nutty Fava Greens Sautéed So Good

Did you ever eat Fava Bean Greens? If you like spinach or other greens and haven’t tried them yet, you definitely should!

Three Week Old Fava Bean Plants
Three Week Old Fava Bean Plants

This autumn was the first time we planted fava beans in the garden. They’re supposed to make for a nice cover crop, being a legume and all. Legumes of all kinds are nice to the soil because they add nitrogen to it. Nature’s kind of fertilizer.

Beans that were planted in October sprouted and grew 3-4 leaf sets before

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Harvest Herbs While They’re Growing Well

The herbs are looking great this time of year. They’re growing so well you can see a difference in these green plants every day. Just give them a little warmth and the hot sun of May and they’ll be making leaves like crazy.

Fast-growing herbs from the top are spearmint, peppermint, horehound, thyme and cilantro.
Fast-growing herbs from the top are spearmint, peppermint, horehound, thyme and cilantro.

My scissors are ready to harvest the following plants that are about a foot tall, except the thyme and oregano which are growing very well too:

  • Spearmint
  • Peppermint
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Horehound
  • Parsley

Spearmint and peppermint, which is a cocoa-mint variety, will be harvested and used to make tea. And potpourri, if you count the delicious smells while the leaves are brewing. Horehound might be used to make candy too — time will tell.

Oregano and thyme are a couple of my go-to herbs for chicken dishes, breads and some veggies. There usually is some fresh growing near the kitchen, but there’s always a little bit dried in the cupboard just in case.

Harvesting the herbs is too easy. Snip off a handful of herb, tie the stems together with a length of string or twine, and hang the bunch in the kitchen or pantry.

Parsley that we have growing now is a second year plant and it’s in the garden. It has been harvested a couple of times already to make Parsley Potatoes. We’ll keep clipping off leaves as we’d like to, but I’ll be on the lookout for a replacement parsley plant that can take us into the fall. This one will probably peter out in the heat of the summer. Did you know that parsley is a biennial plant?

Getting Onion Bulbs Ready for Storage

There’s not a whole lot to say about prepping onions for storage, except that the goal is to dry them sufficiently before placing them in storage.

We have a table on a porch where we gather some small amounts of vegetables as they are harvested. A spot in a garage or even the shade of a tree would work as well, as long as the food items are protected from getting rained on.

We lay out a few pieces of newspaper to make the clean up go a little faster. The newspaper will catch dirt and shed pieces of the outer wrapping of the onions.

Use a thumb and fingers to remove clumps of dirt and long roots as well as wet outer layers of the onion skins.

Onions are laid on their sides on newspaper to dry before storage.
Onions are laid on their sides on newspaper to dry before storage.

Lay the onions out on the newspaper so that the bulbs are on their sides and the root section is exposed to the air. We want the onion to dry out well before cleaning off all the dirt and outer layers of the bulb.

Make sure the onions are not touching each other and that they have some room for air circulation for the best drying.

Pick an area where the onions can be laid out to dry for a couple of weeks. When harvesting the onions on a sunny day, this drying time might be reduced as the onions will dry nicely in the sun. However, the tops may still feel “green” for a few weeks.

Use any of the damaged onions in the kitchen first and also use first the ones that retain the least outer skins as they won’t store as well as those onions that are completely wrapped by their own skins.

Onions Drying to Brown Time to Harvest

Harvesting onions is easy work. Watch them grow and water them until the tops fall over. When the green tops have faded to brown and the onions appear to be drying out to a tan color, it’s time to harvest.

This year the onion harvest is early for us. Usually we’ll be harvesting them in September or even October, not August.

We have to harvest when they’re ready however, or else they could rot in the garden. The torrential rains we’ve had must have toppled over their greens early. Now that the green tails have all but dried up and withered down to a small portion, we’re removing the onions from the garden.

Onions are ready to harvest as noted by their brown and withered tops.
Onions are ready to harvest as noted by their brown and withered tops.

Once the onions are lifted from the ground, and it’s really that easy, they’ll be set on newspaper to dry.

Roots can be snipped off with your fingers and the outer dirty wrapping removed also. Don’t clean the onion bulbs too good at this point. The outer wrappers will protect the juicy onions from drying out during storage.

Wait for a week or two and test whether the top near the onion itself feels moist. If the top feels like it isn’t totally dry, wait.

Wait to cut off the brown tops until they’re completely dry.

Garlic Bulbs Cleaned for Storage

Harvested garlic bulbs were cut down to size and cleaned up for safe keeping.

A couple of weeks ago six varieties of garlic were harvested by digging them out of the ground, tops and all. Each variety was kept separate from the others with labeled pieces of newspaper.

Over a 10-day period after harvesting the tops had dried back considerably and almost all the greenery was now shades of brown. This meant it was time to cut back the tops and clean up the garlic bulbs.

A pair of scissors was used to cut the stems leaving 1-2 inches of a hard stem above the garlic bulb. Roots were pulled together and rubbed between fingers and thumb to remove most of the soil. That way, the roots were easy to cut off with the scissors.

Dirt on the outer membranes was rubbed off with a thumb being careful not to dislodge the membranes left on the garlic bulbs. We want to keep as many layers of membranes or sheath on the bulbs for the best storage. If too many layers of membranes are removed, the garlic cloves have a good chance of drying out during storage.

The harvest didn’t provide a great quantity of garlic for eating, but we do have some cloves to plant for next year and some for the kitchen. There are plenty of cloves for us to determine which is the best and most tasty garlic of the six varieties.

Garlic cleaned for the pantry will be kept in separate labeled boxes.
Garlic cleaned for the pantry will be kept in separate labeled boxes.

Garlic varieties will be kept in labeled, separate boxes. We used the kind of box or carton that berries and other veggies are sold in at a farmer’s stand.

These recycled paper boxes are nice for storage because they can be stacked even with garlic stored in them. They allow for air circulation from all sides. We’ll stack them 2-3 boxes high and place them on a shelf in the darkened pantry for safe keeping.