For centuries, fava beans have been food staples across Asia, South America, North Africa, the Middle East and Europe. While less popular in North American due to a great variety of other legumes, fava beans are fairly simple to grow and harvest in any garden. They are tolerant of many climates and are one of the earliest seasonal vegetables that can be planted. In order to have a good harvest, you must have a good crop. Here are some steps to ensure you do.
Step 1 - Choose a Location
Take a survey of your garden and find a location that receives plenty of sun, but is somewhat protected from the wind.
Step 2 - Prepare the Soil For Planting
Fava beans need soil with high nitrogen content and good drainage. If you think your soil might not be suitable, you can mix a nitrogen additive to increase the levels. If it needs better drainage, try adding some compost and gypsum. These additives will make the soil less dense and attract worms which will help aerate the soil.
Step 3 - Plant the Beans
As soon as the danger of frost has passed and the ground has warmed a bit, you can plant your beans. You should plant four to eight plants per household member if you plan to use them heavily. The beans should be planted to a depth of two inches. Plant the beans down a row in a zigzag pattern, leaving five inches between alternating sides.
Step 4 - Grow the Beans
The beans will need to be kept moist, but not allowed to dry out between waterings. You will need to plan a way to support the beans as they grow because they are a climbing plant. If they are left to fall under their own weight, they will not produce as well. Use lattice, posts, or some other support system for the plants.
Step 5 - Make Sure the Bugs Don't Get the Beans First
When the bean plants are about three feet tall or so, you will need to pinch the tops off of the plants. The tips are a favorite of insects, so get rid of them before the bugs attack. There will also be side shoots with the tips. Pinch those off as well.
Step 6 - Finally Time to Harvest
The beans should be ready to be picked after about 80 days, and possibly longer depending on the climate and conditions. They are best when picked young because that is when they are the most tender. When the pods begin to swell, pick one and eat it. You will be able to tell if it is ripe. Snap beans off at the end of the pods. The beans are best when cooked right away, but can be kept in the refrigerator for a week if necessary.