Fava Bean Seeds - Santa Isabel


Vicia faba

This small-seeded fava was collected at a market in Santa Isabel, Ecuador. It is
adapted to warmer temperatures than most favas, although it will still struggle to set pods in very hot weather. Beans are mostly creamy-green colored with occasional red ones sprinkled in.

SMALL FARM GROWN by Oak Springs Garden Foundation, Upperville, VA

  • Planting Information
  • Growing Information
  • Seed Saving
Packet weight
Min. seeds/ packet
Bulk packet weight
Approx. seeds/ bulk packet
14 g
1/4 lb
Planting SeasonIdeal Soil TempSunFrost Tolerance
Spring/Fall60-80°FFull SunFrost Sensitive
Sowing MethodSeed DepthDirect Seed SpacingDays to sprout
Direct Seed1"4-6"7-14
Mature SpacingDays to harvestProduction CycleSeed Viability
Annual2-4 years

Whenever you're planting your beans, plant them in well-tilled soil that's been properly fertilized with the fertilizer of your choice. Since broad beans are nitrogen-producers, you don't necessarily need to fertilize. If you do, use a low-nitrogen fertilizer. 

Pick a spot with good sun, working the ground in the area you're planting several inches deep and working in compost.

Moisten your soil with water gently before planting. You don't want standing water, - just a bit of dampness to get started. 

Use your finger to poke a hole about 2" deep in the ground. Place them 8" apart in double rows, with the same distance between the two rows. If you're planting a variety known for growing quite large, you might plant them with a bit more space between.

Find the dark spot–the "eye" of the seed–and plant it downward. 

The small bushes that the beans will grow on will quickly become laden with heavy pods, and will sag over without the proper support. For this reason, it's important to plant stakes along your broad bean row to use to support them when they start to gain height. 

Use small dowels spaced every foot or two along the row, with twine tied between, to give the plants something to lean on. You can use twine, or old strips of bed-sheet to gently tie the plants and keep them upright and keep the pods off the ground.

Don't wait until you've got a huge plant and it's flopping over to stake them. It's very easy to damage the roots and promote mildew if the plant spends too much time flopped over on the ground before getting staked up.

Broad beans can withstand dry spells, but keep the plants well-watered, especially if you live in an especially warm climate. Water the soil deeply in the coolest part of the day, and avoid overhead watering, which is watering the tops of the plants and letting it drip down into the soil. Water the soil to prevent mildew and other problems. 

Weed around your broad beans by hand, keeping the area competition-free. Once the plant is established, you can lighten up on the weeding some.

When the plant starts producing pods, pinch off new sprouts. The plant will keep growing and will overproduce unless you stunt the growth by pinching off the new sprouts at the top of the plant as soon as you seen pods producing. At this point, you can harvest some of the leaves to eat, which are a surprisingly tender salad green.

Harvest some early to eat them whole. Like other bush beans, broad beans can be tender and edible in the first couple days of their formation, eaten like sugar snap peas, or steamed whole as a side dish. Broad beans are notable for the waxy outer shell on each bean, but harvested young those outer shells will be soft and edible.

Don't over-pick your young beans, since the full-grown variety is where the flavor's at. It's ok to pick a few from each plant if you can't wait, but save the majority for full maturation.

Depending on what variety you're growing, pods can be anywhere from 6 to 15 inches long, with several large, fat beans on the inside, with several pods per plant. If you pick them regularly throughout the season, you should open up space for more production as well, if you're had a good growing season, weather-wise.

Bean-Fava, Vicia faba

Pollination, self; Life Cycle, annual; Isolation Distance, 150 - 500 feet

As easy to grow for seed as all the other beans, Favas are treated much the same way, with the Fava having a bit longer drying times due to their thicker size and pod. Unlike other beans, the mature color of Favas is black, not tan, which can be scary looking if you don't know to expect it. Individual bean pods can be harvested as they mature, or whole plants at the same time. Thresh and winnow to clean, as you would with green beans.