Growing Broad Beans, also Fava bean

Vicia faba : Fabaceae / the pea or legume family

Jan F M A M J J A S O N Dec
              P P      

(Best months for growing Broad Beans in USA - Zone 5a regions)

  • P = Sow seed
  • Easy to grow. Sow in garden. Sow seed at a depth approximately three times the diameter of the seed. Best planted at soil temperatures between 6°C and 24°C. (Show °F/in)
  • Space plants: 15 - 25 cm apart
  • Harvest in 12-22 weeks. Pick frequently to encourage more pods.
  • Compatible with (can grow beside): Dill, Potatoes
  • Broad bean flowering
  • Egyptian broad beans
  • Shelling broad beans
  • Young beans on plant
  • Young broad bean plant

It is a rigid, erect plant 0.5 - 1.7 m tall, with stout stems with a square cross-section. The leaves are 10 - 25 cm long, pinnate with 2 - 7 leaflets, and of a distinct glaucous grey-green color. Harvest 90 - 160 days depending on how cold the weather is.

In windy areas it is best to provide some support with posts and string, otherwise the plants will fall across each other. Pick the tops out once beans start setting to prevent blackfly.

Culinary hints - cooking and eating Broad Beans

The fresh beans are eaten steamed or boiled. As the beans mature it is better to remove their tough outer skins after cooking.
The leafy top shoots of the adult plants can be picked and steamed after flowering.
Small beans can be eaten whole in the pods.
Broad beans will freeze well. Remove from pods and blanch.

Your comments and tips

21 May 24, Phil Knight (Australia - temperate climate)
I have 10+ year old seed stock. Last season all 10 seeds failed to germinate. This season I am attempting to germinate inside until emerging in controlled environment. I soaked 24 hours and then placed seeds on damp paper towel in ziplock bag. I am concerned about mold appearing on seed. I cleaned off mold and sprayed with diluted hydrogen peroxide. Seeking advice. Thanks in advance
17 May 24, Peter (Australia - temperate climate)
Central Coast NSW. Broad Beans. I have had a pretty good strike rate with my Broad Beans, as they grew they were toppling over. I used Bamboo Stakes to hold them up. They are now about 3 ft tall at the end of my stakes and still growing vigourisly. I really dont want to use Tomato Stakes, What shall I do. Thanks in Advance
21 May 24, (Australia - temperate climate)
Sounds like you have a choice - use tomato stakes or just let them fall over.
13 Mar 24, Nicolas Panayotou (South Africa - Semi-arid climate)
were can I get seeds in South Africa in the North West province
21 Nov 23, Anthony (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
.I Grow mine in September. I Grow my seeds in toilet rolls with seedling mix. 10 day or less to germinate.. plant out before bees arrive about in September ,October.(will help pollinate the flowers ) Harvest Nov. Yummy I have heard you can grow them all summer in a shaded place . Doing it this year Waste of time growing them through winter, without the bees Growing season is Auckland
20 Jul 23, Joseph (Australia - sub-tropical climate)
1. Our Broad beans are having plenty of flowers for one month, however, not forming the pods. 2. Plants are having branches and too many leaves, whether it requires pruning? 3. Is the leaves edible? raw or by cooking?
21 Jul 23, Celeste Archer (Canada - Zone 5a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
A few things : 1. Do not DEAD HEAD the flowers - the flowers will turn black and wither, and will look ugly, BUT the bean STARTS forming at the base of the dead flower - if you remove the dead flower you might pull off the start of the bean. 2. Everywhere you have a flower, you should get a bean (or two), the beans usually start coming in from the bottom of the plant upward. 3. All parts of the fava bean plant (from the ground up) are edible - flowers, stalk, leaves -- I use the leaves and stalk as my greens in scrambled eggs (once the eggs are pretty much done, just add the fava bean greens in the last 10 seconds, incorporating/folding in and removing from the heat). The first time you try this, it may not be that great, but after 3 times it is rather nice and you might miss them if you don't add them to your eggs. The greens also make a great pesto and can garnish a soup. I have never pruned my fava beans.... but since I do take branches for use in cooking... perhaps I have never let my plants get out of control enough to need to prune them ?????
02 Jul 23, Simone (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
I planted seeds a couple of weeks ago but no sign of germination. We are getting frosts most mornings in the upper Blue Mountains NSW. Am I too late? I heard they grow better from seed or should I try to germinate inside first?
03 Jul 23, Celeste Archer (Canada - Zone 5a Temperate Warm Summer climate)
Let's start with the germination temperature: 7c to 18c is the ideal germination temperature for FB, further the temperature needs to be sustained (over 5 or more days). So it needs to be warmish for the seeds to germinate. They will however happily reside in the soil until those temperatures are met (within reason- excess moisture causing rot etc.). The growing temperature for fava beans is between 4c and 24c. The kill temperature is -4c to -10c depending on the variety. What happens between the kill temperature and the grow temperature is a "waiting/holding" time (the plant is alive, but is sort of in limbo until the temperature is good enough again to grow). Above 24c the plant is starting to experience heat related symptoms and again is just holding on (unless the temps get to hot and kill the plant). You need to think about temperatures - what temps do you expect over the next month ? Based on the temperatures, do you think you seeds will germinate ? Then think about the grow temperatures -- if the seeds sprout will they be able to grow ? Generally if you want to grow fava beans in winter you plant them in late summer - so they germinate and grow enough BEFORE the cold weather -- during the cold weather (provided your are does not get too cold) the beans will be able to stay alive and grow a slight bit -- so you can harvest greens during winter and some beans -- then spring comes and the fava plants put forth LOTS of beans and then die. That is to say, the fava bean plant does not grow very much in cold weather and I find that typical of most plants that I want to over winter. They need to have a head start in decent weather and then they kind of SLOWLY inch their way to the finish line. Over wintering is a means of keeping the produce fresh - think of it this way - if you had produce in the fridge it is no longer growing, in fact it is in the process of dying, losing valuable nutrients daily. If you have a plant in the winter ground (that can handle overwintering), it is alive, GROWING REALLY REALLY slow, but it is alive and NOT losing nutrients. I guess what I'm trying to say is, super performance is generally not required, or expected, we are just looking to hold nutrients when we over winter. Clearly some plants are better for overwinter than others - in my area FAVA BEANS are a good choice.
28 Feb 23, Cam Eckersley-Brinich (USA - Zone 9b climate)
I'm requesting favorite recipes using broad (fava) beans, as they are rarely offered in the produce section, and I'm not a fan of canned veggies of any kind...Thank you!
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