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HEIRLOOM. Give these heirloom beauties a long, cool season and they’ll produce loads of 12- to 16-inch long pods full of huge beans with rich flavor and a wonderful chewy texture. In warm climates, they are often planted in fall and overwintered for spring harvest, as they can weather temperatures down to 15 degrees Fahrenheit. Gardeners in cooler climates may plant them as soon as the soil is workable in spring for a late spring harvest. The beans can be cooked and eaten at the green stage, or as a dry bean.
These seeds should be direct seeded in the garden either in early spring or fall, in a location with full sun and well-drained soil. The three-foot plants may benefit from staking or trellising. Beans will begin to mature about 90 days after planting. 28 gram packet contains approximately 16 seeds.
|Avg. Seeds/ Packet
|fall or early spring
|Direct Seed Spacing
|Soil Temp. Range
|Days to Sprout
|Days to Harvest
Fava beans are a cool weather crop that will not tolerate summer heat at all, so it’s important to time your plantings appropriately for your area. Growers in Northern zones usually have no trouble getting a good crop of favas by planting as soon as the soil is workable in spring, while Southern gardeners may find it impossible to get mature beans from a spring planting before temperatures rise too high. (In temperatures above 80 degrees, fava bean pods will abort, ie, not set seeds.) In warm climates, favas are often planted in the fall after the weather cools off, and overwintered for harvest in spring. Favas germinate best in soil temperatures between 42 and 70 degrees Fahrenheit, and many varieties can withstand freezing temperatures down to as low as 15 degrees.
No matter when you plant, pick a spot with full sun and well drained soil. Direct seed your favas by digging a shallow trench about an inch deep and dropping in a seed every 6 inches. Cover with soil and water in your seeds thoroughly (just don’t leave standing water.) Fava beans are big seeds, and need to absorb a lot of water to get going. Once established, favas usually don’t need much attention. Keep an eye out for aphids, one of these beans’ most damaging pests, and treat as necessary with insecticidal soap. Taller and larger-podded varieties may benefit from staking, to keep them from flopping over as the beans mature. Fall-planted crops may need to be kept under row cover, depending on how low temperatures will drop over the winter.
Fava beans can be harvested at essentially any size. The small, tender pods can be cooked whole, while larger beans will require shelling, as the pods become tough with age. The beans can be eaten in their fresh, green “shelly” stage, or dried down for later use as dry beans.
Fava beans (Vicia faba) are both self-pollinating and insect-pollinated. Isolation of 160 to 500 feet between different varieties of favas is recommended to prevent cross-pollination. Fava beans will not cross-pollinate with any other type of bean, since they are an entirely different species. To save seeds, grow the plants just as you would for eating, but allow the pods to fully mature and dry on the plant. Note: fava pods will turn black when mature, not brown like other beans. This is normal, not a sign of disease. Because their pods and seeds are so thick, fava beans can take a long time to fully dry down. If you live in a humid climate, you will likely need to harvest your seed crop before it is totally dry in the field, to avoid mold formation. In this case, shell the beans out and spread them on drying racks or newspaper to finish drying indoors. Once the seeds are completely dry, store them in an airtight container in a dark, dry, and cool location.