Growing broad beans

Broad beans are also called fava beans and have been grown in ancient Greece and Rome. Teh are still very popular in the Mediterranean cuisin and are an importand souce of protein. The beans can be dried for conservation. 

Unlike other beans, the broad beans prefer cool weather and can therefore be planted and harvested much earlier. 

Direct seed

Broad beans can be precultivated, but it is easier to sow them directly. They need only 4-5 degrees soil temperature and are one of the earliest crops to get started in spring. They are often sown in compination with potatoes. Some varieties are hardy enough to be sown in the autumn if winter temperature stays above -12°C. The Digital Gardener can provide you with information about a wide range of different broad bean varities.

Precultivation an planting out

Broad beans can also be precultivated for early harvest. Seed them approximately 5 cm deep in trays or pots. The beans will grow fast so don’t seed them more than 2-3 weeks before you plan to plant them outdoors. They also tend to be very tall and thin if grown inside with insufficient light. 


Start picking the individual pods when the green shell beans inside are plump. Harvesting will encourage the plant to set more pods. For dry beans, wait until pods are dry before harvest.

Pests and diseases


Birds love the seeds and the small sprouts so you may need to cover the plants until they grown a bit. 

The primary disorder responsible for leaf and pod blackening and spotting is a virus spread by aphids. The disease is most prevalent in hot weather. 


Learn more

Would you like to learn more about how to successfully cultivate beans? There are plenty of good sources for learning available on the Internet. Try one of these sources as a start:

  1. How to grow broad beans. Growing guide from RHS.
  2. How to Grow Broad Beans: From Sowing Autumn and Spring. Video by Charles Dowding:
  3. Fava bean – Key Growing Information. Growing advice from Johnny Seeds.
  4. Growing Fava Beans. Blog by Sara Bäckmo:
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