Growing Crops: Fava Beans

Also called Broad Beans, they actually aren’t beans at all – they’re a member of the pea family. Go figure. A bush plant rather than a climbing vine, varieties include Aquadulce, Broad Windsor Longpod, Bunyards Exhibition, Imperial Green Longpod, Futua RZ, and The Sutton.

They’re not a common item found in most home gardens, therefore seeds can sometimes be difficult to find. In order to save yourself the hassle of searching your local home and garden stores for seeds, why not order them online? Click the link below to purchase at least two seed packets if not more (read on for the reason why):

Best Climate to Grow: Fava beans are a hardy bunch and can be grown during the winter – provided your winters don’t involve howling blizzards and prolonged sub-freezing temperatures. They do particularly well in regions where Spring takes a long time to warm up. Hot weather will stop the flowers from producing the pods.

Light Requirements: Lots of sun with shelter from the wind.

Soil Requirements: Rich, fertile soil, slightly on the heavier side but with good drainage.

Feeding and Water Requirements: Fertilize with manure in the Fall, and keep the soil moist and mulched during the growing season.

When to Plant: Either in late Fall for a late Spring/early Summer harvest, or late Winter/early Spring for a mid- to late Summer harvest. You can start them indoors 4-6 weeks prior to hardening off and transplanting the seedlings into your garden.

Planting Depth and Spacing: Plant them in double rows, and before you plant, be sure to place tall stakes at the end of each row with sturdy string or wire stretched between the stakes about 1 foot above the ground to help support the plants as they grow.

If sowing seeds directly into your garden, dig a shallow trench between the two stakes about 10 inches wide and 1½ inches deep. Place the seeds in two rows along each side of the trench, 9 inches between each row and between each seed in the same row. Lightly cover with soil and water well. If transplanting seedlings, no need for the trench. Simply plant the seedlings 9 inches apart in two rows that are also 9 inches apart along the string line between the two stakes.

Container Requirements: Fava beans generally do not fare well in containers. They are not a particularly productive crop, comparatively speaking, so a larger number of plants need to be grown in order to reap a reasonable harvest.

Harvesting and Storage: Snip the pods with a pair of garden shears when they are about 6 inches long and swollen but still slightly immature – you don’t want them becoming hard and leathery. Continue to harvest regularly in order to encourage more pod growth. Fresh beans are best, but you can freeze them for later eating.

Harvesting for Seed: Not recommended. The seeds do not store well, and tend to have a much lower germination rate than treated, purchased seeds have.

Pests to Monitor: Blackfly, Slugs. Snipping off the top growth (about 3 inches) once the plants are flowering will help deter the Blackfly problem. Visit our pest control beneficials, barriers, scare tactics, homemade organic pesticide, and commercial organic pesticide pages to see your options and choose your weapons.

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