Winter Garden Update

I thought the cold snaps we’ve been having were going to ruin my lettuce but they seem to love it. There are about five gigantic full-grown heads that have suffered no ill effects and the babies that are coming up are also fine. There is one in the in-between stage and it seems to be destroyed by the cold or too much wet. I planted fava beans at the same time (late summer) and they are tall and healthy. They are companion plants for my lettuce and beets. I believe the fava are protecting and sheltering the lettuce. Even if some of the fava are a couple of feet away from the lettuce, the fava “fix” nitrogen into the soil. Adding to all the green is a clump of bright yellow calendula flowers that love the cold. A welcome splash of cheerful on a dreary winter’s day.

Suellen Ocean is the author of the vegetarian cookbook, Poor Jonny’s Cookbook. Available here:

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Poor Jonny's Cover

Organic Gardens, Butterflies and Fava Beans

Planting fava beans in your garden will attract butterflies and bees that pollinate your other crops and fix nitrogen into your soil. Great for companion planting, fava beans will get a little tall and could shade things but you can always pull them or trim them and as a benefit you can eat them. In temperate climates you can plant them as a winter crop and they will be flowering in the spring.  Suellen Ocean is the author of Acorns and Eat’em, a how-to vegetarian cookbook and field guide for eating acorns. Find it here:–Vegetarian-Cookbook/dp/1491288973