The fava bean plant, also known as Vicia faba L., is a cool-season crop that produces seed pods measuring between six and eight inches long and containing between four and six flat seeds. The beans are also known by their other popular name, wide beans, which refers to the seeds’ flattened form. A fava bean may also be referred to as a horse bean, field bean, pigeon bean, “tick bean, English beans, or Windsor beans. These names all refer to the same kind of bean. Even though they are not beans in the traditional sense, favas are closely linked to the legume known as vetch. The time of year that is ideal for planting this crop varies greatly from climate zone to climate zone.
Fava Bean Basics
The fava bean plant is an annual that looks like a bush. Growing this plant in a raised bed or container is a viable option; however, you must exercise caution so that the plant does not get stunted if it outgrows its container. In order to successfully harvest fava beans, a planting window of around four to five months is required. The plant produces a series of tiny white blooms that are spotted with brown before it produces its seed pods. Plant the seeds at a depth of at least one inch in soil that is healthy, loose, and well-drained. Do this in a location that receives full light, and leave four to five inches of space between each plant. Be sure to keep the soil wet, particularly during the blooming stage and the formation of the seed pods, but be careful not to overwater your fava beans. Garlic and onions are not recommended as good companion plants for fava beans. When grown with strawberries, celery, cucumbers, maize, and potatoes, fava beans produce very well.
Because they are a crop that thrives during the chilly season, fava beans should not be grown during the summer in climatic zones that have dry and hot weather. Temperatures of at least 80 degrees Fahrenheit have a detrimental effect on fava beans, since they either inhibit or completely stop the formation of seed pods and blooms on the plant. Temperatures in the range of 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit are considered to be excellent for fava beans. This plant is able to survive temperatures as low as 40 degrees Fahrenheit and as high as 75 degrees Fahrenheit. If you live in a location that sees all four seasons, the ideal time to plant fava beans is at the beginning of spring, just as the ground is beginning to thaw up.
Planting in Mild Climates
It is feasible to cultivate and sow fava beans all throughout the year in regions with conditions that are reminiscent of the Mediterranean and have milder winters and colder summers. It is possible to cultivate fava beans throughout the whole year in this sort of environment since there is a little risk of frost, and summer temperatures seldom get beyond 75 degrees Fahrenheit. Only plant fava beans in your yard between the months of May and August if your immediate area has a lot of fog during those months. This will prevent the development of delayed or slowed flowers and seeds. Planting fava beans in September and October will allow you to enjoy these beans throughout the chilly and wet winter months in recipes such as soups, stews, salads, and other side dishes.
Fava Beans as a Cover Crop
The faba bean crop that is sown in the autumn serves as a cover crop for the spring planting that occurs the following year. Cover crops, also known as green manure, are plants that are sown into a garden bed in the autumn, and then the bed is tilled into the soil after the harvest in the following spring. The soil is improved in terms of fertility and overall health in preparation for plantings in the spring as a result of the preparation and addition of nutrients by these crops. Specifically, fava beans contribute to the increased levels of nitrogen in the soil, which is a necessary ingredient for the growth of healthy plants. Be aware, however, that when the seed pods of the fava bean are plucked, a portion of the nitrogen that the bean contributed to the soil is lost. Planting fava beans as a cover crop, together with other plants that thrive during the chilly season, such as peas, vetch, or bell beans, is an easy way to solve this problem.