Rising fava beans: Giant broad beans

Growing fava beans is an easy and fun way to try out a legume plant in your garden. Fava bean plants love a cool season like early spring and overwinter when planted in fall. They have edible leaves and plenty of vegetable companions. Their beautiful, spreading foliage is sure to provide you and the earth with nutrients.

Favas are a great addition to a vegetable garden as food or catch crop. People all over the world love the plant and grow field beans for their legumes or their green foliage. Big beans like favas are packed with nutrients and consuming them provides tons of potassium. They're also a great source of iron and magnesium. No wonder there are so many types of fava, as their cultivation has been traced back at least 6,000 years.

However, favas are not for everyone. Certain people have a condition known as favism, which can cause hemolytic anemia, a blood disorder that prevents oxygen from reaching cells in the body. Since this can only become infected from being near a fava field and inhaling pollen, people with the gene predisposed to favism should garden with other legumes like chickpeas instead. Find out if favas are right for you before you decide to try them out.

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Brief instructions for care

Growing fava beans helps improve soil and provides food. Source: luckytomato

Common name (s) Broad bean, broad bean, broad bean
Scientific name Vicia Faba
Days to harvest 75 to 100 days
light Full sun to partial shade
water 1 inch per week
ground Average, well drained
fertilizer Minimal, low in nitrogen, with added sulphate forms of sulfur
Pests Aphids, leaf miners, thrips, Mexican bean beetles, spider mites
Diseases Broad bean chocolate stain, rust, powdery mildew, fusarium root rot, mosaic virus

Everything about fava beans

Fava flowers and beeFava flowers are pretty pretty and are great for pollinators. Source: TJ Gehling

Fava beans or Vicia Faba are legumes that love cool weather. Also known as broad beans or broad beans, these plants are usually used as a cover crop to prepare a garden bed so that the soil can be worked in future growing seasons. There is an added benefit for those who do a fava bean harvest too! Ripe beans and tender green leaves from favas are great to eat.

Fava beans come from either the Mediterranean or Central Asia. Today there is no evidence of wild cultivation as only the variety remains. Favas are said to have magical properties in Sicily. The residents there honor St. Joseph by placing fava beans at the feet of his images on March 19. According to legend, he let it rain during an extended drought that ravaged Sicily in the Middle Ages. Fava beans were one of the few crops that survived the drought. Today they are a valued plant in California and loved all over the world.

Fava bean plants are strong, ranging from 2 feet to 6 feet tall. The leaves are arranged in leaflets on either side of a central stem and the foliage is silvery green. Flowers have standard, wing, and keel leaves that range from white to crimson. The petals of the fava wings have characteristic black spots. After blooming and fading, seed pods form. Ripe green pods can grow up to 6 inches long as they fill with delicious, lime-colored broad seeds that resemble lima beans. Unlike other beans, these plants grow tall rather than tendril.

Vegetables and beans are what people eat for food, but all of the leaf, fruit, and flower parts of favas are edible. The stems and pod shells are not eaten due to their toughness, but they can be digested. Each fava plant can produce up to 180 beans.

An interesting variety of fava beans is called Extra Precoce Violetto. This early range is happiest in the spring and will take up part of your garden if you let it. From start to bloom, Violetto looks like a normal fava plant. Broad beans of this variety vary in color from light brown to dark purple.

Plant fava beans

Dry fava beansDry fava beans for planting or storage. Source: John and Anni

A young field bean plant appreciates the installation in early spring or late winter, as soon as the soil warms up and can be worked. Fava beans planted at this time grow quickly and end in early summer. As an alternative to early varieties, you can plant and overwinter favas in the fall.

Fava beans grow best in well-drained loam, but they also thrive in average garden soil. They prefer full sun to partial shade.

Most varieties will spread, making them difficult to keep in containers. Sow seeds in raised beds or garden soil. There are dwarf varieties like Bell Bean that grow easily in containers.

Start the seeds either indoors in starting trays or outdoors 4 to 6 inches apart in rows 18 to 36 inches apart, 1 to 2 inches deep. If you plant seeds too deep or not deep enough, they will not germinate or root properly. If you are growing the seeds indoors, take them outside within 2 weeks of germination as they will grow quickly.

Planting these in the fall as winter greening can improve spring gardening as they can increase the nitrogen in your soil. It is recommended that you inoculate your bean seeds with Rhizobium leguminosarum, an inoculant that will aid them in this task. If you have not previously inoculated your growing medium or any previous seed culture in it, be sure to buy legume inoculants for the best nitrogen fortification.


Fava seedlingA broad bean seedling, just getting started. Source: Pictoscribe

Fava beans aren't fussy, especially when they can spread around your yard. Planting and caring for these plants for a season is sure to be a pleasant endeavor as long as you give them a good foundation.

Sun and temperature

Favas need full sun to partial shade at 60 to 65 degrees. Although some varieties are frost-resistant, most fava beans can withstand cold of up to 40 degrees on average. At 75 degrees, plant production increases when the fava ends its life cycle. They are best planted in zones 6 and higher. They need a long, cool growing season to produce properly. If you are growing a variety that is not frost hardy, use a frost cloth to cover up delicate greenery in the rapid frost. Non-heat resistant varieties need a shade cloth during heat waves.

Water and moisture

Water favas in the morning or at dusk. Give them at least an inch of water a week. We recommend drip irrigation as water causes mold on fava leaves. Seasons that are too wet can cause favas to have root rot problems. So if there is an exceptional amount of rainy weather, avoid watering. Check the top two inches of the soil to see if watering is needed.


Favas prefer well-drained, silty to loamy soils. An important aspect of growing fava is maintaining proper soil pH. Plant seeds in areas with a pH of 6 to 6.5. Soils with a pH of 5.6 or below should be enriched with lime or wood ash. While not strictly necessary, you can add compost to a growing medium to give your plants a boost.


Nodules fixing nitrogen on broad bean rootsNodules that fix nitrogen appear on the roots of inoculated bean plants. Source: Jo Zimny

Favas are nitrogen-fixing plants when inoculated with Rhizobium. If they weren't, they're still a bit nitrogen-fixing, but not as effective.

While they don't need a lot of nitrogen, they do need potassium and phosphorus. A low-nitrogen fertilizer is an effective solution here as it provides the additional PK required. Forms of sulfate containing sulfur are also important for these beans, so choosing a fertilizer that contains soluble sulfur is a good idea.

Heavily diluted foliar fertilizers are effective, but many bud- and flower-oriented granular organic fertilizers are also good options. Slow release fertilizers should be applied at or before planting.

Pruning / training

After about six weeks, cut off the top inches above the leaf knot. Include flowers in this process that encourages growth. You can eat the pruned leaves just as you would any hardy green. Fava flowers are also edible. When you've harvested everything for the fall season and the pods are starting to turn dark brown, chop them to 6 inches above the ground to survive the winter. When you've planted them in the spring, remove all of the foliage above the ground and leave the roots. The remains of the fava plants are used to fix the roots for vegetables that are then planted. Although they're not climbing beans, trellis or peg them so they don't bend toward the ground when pods form.


Seeds are the only method of propagation for favas.

Harvest and storage

Fava beans and podsFreshly harvested beans are peeled. Source: Pictoscribe

Favas last a long time after harvest, which is why they are valued by gardeners and cooks alike. Once you've extracted beans from their pods, there is an opportunity to eat and plant more favas in the cooler seasons to come.


Harvest young and mature leaves throughout the growing cycle. To harvest ripe pods, wait until they are long and shiny green. Don't wait too long or the pods will be tough and the beans will be too tough to eat. Those who harvested too late can be used for horticulture in the coming seasons.

Eat unripe pods whole when they are thin and about 3 inches long. For beans only, peel the pod to access the beans in it. Pull down the middle strip from the top of the pod. Then peel the beans by blanching them. Boil them for up to a minute and then submerge them in ice water to finish the cooking process. Squeeze each bean and they will come out of their shell, and at this point, you're ready to enjoy those tender bites!


Unripe pods, flowers and leaves should be eaten on the day of harvest. Fresh fava beans can be kept in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for about ten days. It is important to eat fresh beans as soon as possible.

If storing for a long time, wait until each capsule is dry to the touch. Peel the beans and place them on cardboard or newspaper in a warm, dry place for a few weeks. This allows them to dry out completely. Store in airtight containers until use.

Freeze fresh fava beans and you'll have them for 6 to 8 months. If you store dried favas, they will last two to three years in a jar or an airtight container.


Area of ​​favasA whole field with broad beans as cover crops. Source: ER & # 39; s Eyes

Working with favas in cool weather makes growing vegetables seem easy. However, there are some conditions that can lead to problems, diseases, and pests.

Growing problems

Are fava beans sensitive to high heat Conditions and die quickly during a heatwave if fully exposed to sunlight. In weather that is consistently over 80 degrees, field bean blossoms become sterile. Provide a shade towel to reduce the UV pressure on the plants and provide slightly cooler temperatures.

If the temperature is too cold, fava Leaves can turn black from frost damage. This can't kill a strong plant, but it can look terrible. In particularly cold weather, the use of frost cloth is recommended.


Aphids, Leaf miners, and Thrips suck juice from fava leaves, causing structural damage in the process. Most of the time, the presence of these pests in the garden is minimal and an indication that you have healthy plants. If those juicers haven't overrun the area, just cut off any infected leaves and throw them in the trash. If the infestation is more severe, introduce beneficial insects such as lacewings or ladybugs, which naturally prey on all three insects. Fight large infestations with neem oil or insecticidal soap.

The Mexican bean beetles or Epilachna varivestis feeds on the undersides of the leaves, causing lesions that eventually become visible from above. Hand-picking is the best acute treatment for bean beetles. Remove them by hand and soak them in soapy water. If an infestation shows up, use insecticidal soap to prevent further damage.

Spider mites weave thin webs and feed on the surface of the leaf, leaving mottled yellow and white spots. If they get out of hand, they can cause the leaves to collapse. Try predatory beneficial insects like the ones above or use insecticidal soap or neem oil.

Bad infestations with any of these pests can be treated with pyrethrin or spinosad sprays, both of which are stronger organic solutions.


Broad bean chocolate stain is caused by the fungus Botrytis cinerea. Small brown lesions form on the leaves and, in very humid conditions, spread to the stem and flower. Control this fungus culturally through the correct spacing. Copper fungicide sprays control more aggressive stages.

Broad bean rust is a fungal disease caused by the pathogen Uromyces viciae-fabae. Spots form on the leaf surfaces, which eventually turn rusty in color and cause the leaves to collapse. This occurs in environments with high humidity or in previously infected soil. Practice crop rotation so you don't plant your favas in the same spot two years in a row. Provide adequate air circulation to reduce moisture around the plants. While not 100% effective, copper fungicide can slow the spread and give you time to remove and destroy infected leaves. Do not compost any material with this grate.

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that develops when favas are planted too close together and the days are warm and humid. There are many treatments for powdery mildew, but neem oil or copper fungicides are the most effective. Make sure your beans have enough air circulation to reduce the moisture around them.

Fusarium root rot is a fungal disease that occurs in situations where the growing medium is not draining well. The fungus thrives in moist, warm conditions. This soil-borne pathogen is difficult to control, but some mycorrhizae have been found to be reasonably effective when used early. Make sure your plants have enough drainage to protect their root system. Do not water in rainy weather.

Mosaic virus is spread by pests such as aphids that carry the viral pathogen. Leaves of an infected plant grow distorted and cannot absorb nutrients that would otherwise be healthy leaves. The virus also causes abnormal flower growth and sterilizes plants. There is no cure for mosaic virus, so the best course of action is prevention. Treat pest outbreaks quickly to reduce the risk. Remove and destroy virus infected plants.

frequently asked Questions

Q: Do fava beans need a trellis?

A: Although most of the time they stand upright, favas enjoy the support of a trellis as their pods form. This will prevent them from leaning and hitting the ground.

Q: How long do fava beans take to grow?

A: Favas grow in about 75 to 100 days.

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