How to Grow Fava Beans

Actually a vetch, this cool-weather crop matures in early summer, when other beans are just getting started.
Broad Bean Harvest

Broad Bean Harvest

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

When to Start: early spring (in USDA Zones 9 and warmer, plant in fall)
At Their Best: early summer
Time to Complete: 30 minutes for sowing

Materials Needed:

  • fava bean seeds (also called broad beans)
  • dibber
  • wooden pegs
  • string
  • garden stakes

Sow Seed

Peg out a length of string and make holes along its length, 1 to 2 inches deep, 4 to 6 inches apart, and drop a single seed into the base of each one. Mark out and sow successive rows at 12-inch intervals. Refill the holes with soil and water the seeds in well.

Put Seed in Hole

Put Seed in Hole

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Support Plants

Fava beans can grow up to 4 feet tall and become heavily laden with pods, which can cause the plants to collapse. To prevent this, support the plants by using garden stakes and string to make an open frame around them, particularly in windy areas.

Use Garden Stakes and String to Support Bean Pods

Use Garden Stakes and String to Support Bean Pods

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Pinch Out Growing Tips

To reduce the risk of aphid damage, snap off the soft tips of the bean plants once they have started to produce pods.

snap off soft tips of bean plant to stop aphids

snap off soft tips of bean plant to stop aphids

Photo by: DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - How to Grow Practically Everything, 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Harvest

Fava beans are usually ready to harvest 2-1/2 months after planting. Check the pods regularly, and pick them once they're clearly swollen with beans but still look glossy. Once the pods turn leathery, the beans inside are still edible but tough.

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