Fava Beans Growing Guide

Cool season fava beans are a great choice, as they're easy to grow, don't need fertilizing, attract early pollinators, and improve the soil. They actually help replenish soil nitrogen.

An ancient crop hailing from the Mediterranean region, fava beans sport a buttery texture and a nutty flavor. Large, fragrant white or purple flowers are another benefit to growing these beans in your garden. Their benefits continue in the kitchen, as both the leaf and bean are edible, and can be boiled or sauteed.

The bean pods are thick, with cottony padding encasing up to seven dark green beans. The pods themselves aren't edible, so they may require shelling, and remember to remove each bean's waxy coating first.

When to Sow Sun/Part Shade Seed Spacing Row Spacing Planting Depth Spacing After Thinning Days to Germinate Days to Maturity
Early Spring Sun 3 inches 24 inches 1½ inches 6 inches 6-16 85

Soil and Fertilizing
Loosen the soil with a spade or fork, and then smooth it with a rake. Plant your fava beans in the early spring, or in the fall in mild winter areas.

A legume inoculant like rhizobium bacteria is recommended for the initial planting for best germination results.

Water by soaking the soil every few days. A good rule is to provide about one inch of water per week.

Pods may be harvested when the seeds are pea-sized, but you can also wait until the pods are completely filled out.

Special Notes
    • Fava beans require a long, cool growing season. They don't tolerate hot summer weather well, and may not set if the temperature rises too high.
    • Sow them about the same time as peas, once the soil temperature exceeds 45° F.
    • The plants can grow up to four feet tall and become laden with beans, so they need staking or a trellis for best results.


For soil testing or other questions specific to your growing climate, please contact your local county extension agent. Visit http://www.almanac.com/content/cooperative-extension-services to find the office nearest you.

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