Vicia faba, commonly known as the broad bean, fava bean, or faba bean, is a species of vetch, a flowering plant in the pea and bean family Fabaceae. It is widely cultivated as a crop for human consumption, and also as a cover crop. Varieties with smaller, harder seeds that are fed to horses or other animals are called field bean, tic bean or tick bean. Horse bean, Vicia faba var. equina Pers., is a variety recognized as an accepted name. This legume is very common in Southern European, Northern European, East Asian, Latin American and North African cuisines.
Some people suffer from favism, a hemolytic response to the consumption of broad beans, a condition linked to a metabolism disorder known as G6PDD. Otherwise the beans, with the outer seed coat removed, can be eaten raw or cooked. In young plants, the outer seed coat can be eaten, and in very young plants, the seed pod can be eaten.
Broad beans have a long tradition of cultivation in Old World agriculture, being among the most ancient plants in cultivation and also among the easiest to grow. However, their wild ancestor has not been identified and their origin is unknown. Charred faba bean remains were discovered at three adjacent Neolithic sites in Israel's Lower Galilee (Yiftah'el, Ahi'hud and Nahal Zippori). Based on the radiocarbon dating of these remains, scientists now believe that the domestication of the crop may have begun as early as the 11th century BCE.
Broad beans are still often grown as a cover crop to prevent erosion because they can overwinter and, as a legume, they fix nitrogen in the soil. The broad bean has high plant hardiness; it can withstand harsh and cold climates. Unlike most legumes, the broad bean can be grown in soils with high salinity, as well as in clay soil. However, it prefers rich loams.
Botrytis fabae is one of the worst diseases in V. faba. Foliar damage, reduced photosynthesis, reduced bean productivity. B. fabae switches from non-aggressive growth to aggressive pathogenicity under the combination of increased temperature and humidity, and this is worsened by low soil potassium and phosphorus, and by the higher humidity caused by higher seeding rates. The non-aggressive phase is marked by small red-brown leaf lesions, and sometimes the same on stems and pods. Treatment is less effective than prevention. Early planting avoids the problematic combination of high temperature and humidity in late spring into early summer. Decreasing seeding rate or thinning after emergence is also effective. Foliar fungicide is effective. If V. faba flowers during the heights of summer temperatures there is an increased risk of this disease. If transplanted instead of direct seeded there is a lower risk of B. fabae.
Faba bean rust is a fungal pathogen commonly affecting broad bean plants at maturity, causing small orange dots with yellow halos on the leaves, which may merge to form an orange lawn on both leaf surfaces.
Xanthomonas campestris and X. axonopodis can be inoculated by seed contamination and by overwintering in crop residue. Increased incidence with higher temperatures, rainfall, and humidity. Produces deliquescent, necrotic lesions, sometimes with a wider yellow lesion around them, and in advanced disease the plant will look burned. Can be prevented or treated by use of uninfected seed, resistant cultivars, seed treatments, and copper bactericides.
Broad bean plants are highly susceptible to early summer infestations of the black bean aphid, which can cover large sections of growing plants with infestations, typically starting at the tip of the plant. Severe infestations can significantly reduce yields, and can also cause discolouration of pods and reduction in their saleable values.
Aphis fabae is a major pest. May infest transplants. Reflective plastic mulch may be preventative. May be mechanically removed by high pressure water once plant is established. V. fabae is tolerant to low and medium degrees of infestation, so insecticide application is only required under high infestation.
Beans generally contain phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin that occurs naturally in plants, animals, and humans. Most of the relatively low toxin concentrations found in V. faba can be destroyed by boiling the beans for 10 minutes.
Broad beans are generally eaten while still young and tender, enabling harvesting to begin as early as the middle of spring for plants started under glass or overwintered in a protected location, but even the main crop sown in early spring will be ready from mid to late summer. Horse beans, left to mature fully, are usually harvested in the late autumn, and are then eaten as a pulse. The immature pods are also cooked and eaten, and the young leaves of the plant can also be eaten, either raw or cooked as a pot herb (like spinach).
Broad beans can be sown in pots under cover from February onwards, for planting out in spring. This method is especially useful where soils are wet or rich in clay (which can lead to seeds rotting in the ground), or if mice are a problem in your garden, as they tend to eat direct-sown seeds.Sow the large seeds individually into small pots or modular trays filled with seed compost, inserting them 5cm (2in) deep. Water well and keep in good light.
Unless rainfall has been high, soak plants well at the start of flowering and again two weeks later. Regular watering may be needed on light, free-draining soil.Dwarf plants in containers require regular watering throughout the growing season, as they dry out more quickly than plants in the ground.
Fava beans are fairly easy to grow as long as they have adequate temperatures."}},"@type": "Question","name": "How long does it take to grow fava beans?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Fava beans take between 80 to 100 days on average to reach their harvest.","@type": "Question","name": "Do fava beans come back every year?","acceptedAnswer": "@type": "Answer","text": "Fava beans are annuals, meaning they complete their life cycle in one growing season."]}]}] .icon-garden-review-1fill:#b1dede.icon-garden-review-2fill:none;stroke:#01727a;stroke-linecap:round;stroke-linejoin:round > buttonbuttonThe Spruce The Spruce's Instagram The Spruce's TikTok The Spruce's Pinterest The Spruce's Facebook NewslettersClose search formOpen search formSearch DecorRoom Design
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Learn tips for creating your most beautiful home and garden ever.Subscribe The Spruce's Instagram The Spruce's TikTok The Spruce's Pinterest The Spruce's Facebook About UsNewsletterPress and MediaContact UsEditorial GuidelinesGardeningPlants & FlowersVegetablesHow to Grow Fava Beans (Broad Beans)ByMarie Iannotti Marie Iannotti Facebook Marie Iannotti is a life-long gardener and a veteran Master Gardener with nearly three decades of experience. She's also an author of three gardening books, a plant photographer, public speaker, and a former Cornell Cooperative Extension Horticulture Educator. Marie's garden writing has been featured in newspapers and magazines nationwide and she has been interviewed for Martha Stewart Radio, National Public Radio, and numerous articles.Learn more about The Spruce'sEditorial ProcessUpdated on 04/20/22Reviewed by
Julie Thompson-Adolf is a Master Gardener and author. She has 30+ years of experience with year-round organic gardening; seed starting and saving; growing heirloom plants, perennials, and annuals; and sustainable and urban farming.
Home-grown broad beans (Vicia faba) are delicious and wonderfully tender, and one of the first crops of the year. They're easy to grow from seed, yielding green pods of green or white beans that can be used in salads, stews and soups. They don't take up too much space and can be grown in the ground, in raised beds and in large pots. You can also buy young plants in early spring.
Sow broad beans outside in spring or autumn, 20cm apart, in rows 60cm apart. If you live in a cold area, have heavy soil or a problem with mice, sow seeds under cover first, and plant the young plants out six weeks later. Pinch out the tips of plants to prevent blackfly, and stake taller varieties to stop them collapsing under the weight of the beans. Harvest when the pods are just 6cm long, for the most tender beans.
After harvesting, leave the plants in the ground for as long as possible. Like other legumes, broad beans have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules on their root system, which boost nitrogen levels in the soil. The crops you grow in this area in the following year will reap the benefits. 041b061a72