How to Plant and Grow Fava Beans
Fava beans, or broad beans, are well known and eaten around the world. The reason is because they are such a hardy plant and can be grown in many climates. Because they like cooler conditions, they can be planted soon after the last frost. In some climates, they can be planted in the fall for a spring harvest. Since they are planted so early, they are one of the earliest vegetables in the garden to produce.
Here are some easy steps to follow, so even a gardener without a green thumb can have a great crop.
Step 1 - Choose a Spot and Prepare the Soil
Fava beans prefer a sunny areas that are well sheltered from wind. You will need to decide how many plants you want to have, and how much garden space you will need for those plants. While fava beans do well in a variety of soils, they like an environment that drains well the best. If your soil has poor drainage, you can add compost and gypsum to the soil. This will improve the drainage and attract worms which add nutrients to the soil. Clear the area of rocks and weeds, and till the soil. Mix a nitrogen additive to the soil about a week before you begin to plant. Later, your fava beans produce their own nitrogen, but not until their roots are established.
Step 2 - Plant Your Seeds
You can begin planting in late April or early May, right after the last frost. Dig out a row that is 2 inches in depth and 8 inches in width. Alternate planting seeds down each side of your trench. Each side should have 10 inches between seeds, so you will end up with a seed every five inches on alternating sides. Cover the seeds with soil, and water right away.
Step 3 - Take Care of Your Plants
The plants should be kept moist, but not overly wet. Don't let the soil dry out. Make sure you weed around the plants. Many animals enjoy the growing plants, so you may need to put up some fencing. Taller varieties of beans will need support as they grow. You can use stakes, lattice, or build support by pushing stakes into either end of your row, and running wire mesh between the stakes. The growing fava beans will attach themselves to the mesh for support
When the plants reach about 3 feet tall, be sure to pinch off the tops of the stems. Insects feed on the tip of the plant. Also pinch off any shoots that sprout out near the bottom of the plant, because they too can be attacked.
Step 4 - Pick the Fava Beans
The beans should be ready to be picked in about 65 days. The beans should be picked when they are young and tender. As soon as the pods start to swell, eat one to see if its ripe. The pod should be 7 to 10 inches in length, depending on the variety you planted. The seed package will give you specific information on size.