This was my first year growing fava beans and it was great fun watching the plants develop & the pods form - I really had very little idea what to expect. As far as I can tell, favas (or broad beans in the UK) are not commonly grown in North American vegetable gardens.
|Fresh Extra Precoce Violetto Favas|
I sowed the seed just before we went away in April & was a bit concerned about how it would fair. When we got back from holiday, there was still no sign of germination. I didn’t press the panic button just yet, though. The first hint of germination came over 2 weeks after they were sown, on May 4th. By May 7th, about 1/3 of the seedlings had emerged.
|Favas - 3 weeks after seeding|
|The final in a series of Extra Precoce Violetto harvests|
|The one and only harvest of Ianto's Fava|
Inside the Pods - Dried Ianto Fava Beans
|Blackening pods are usually not a good sign...|
In the case of favas, however, it's their natural progression
Dried Ianto Fava Pods
|Multiple stems emerged from the base of a|
Extra Precoce Violetto plant
Ianto (left); Extra Violetto (right)
Even with the smaller pods and smaller beans, it does seem that Ianto had a higher overall yield, especially when you consider that I ended up with primarily dried beans which would have weighed less than if they had been harvested fresh.
Violetto, however, is definitely easier to deal with because of the shorter plants. It’s also earlier to produce, although I didn't start harvesting Ianto's when I should have so I'm not exactly certain how much earlier it was.
Overall Impressions and Plan for Next Year
This was a fun crop to grow & I particularly like that you can get it started super early as, unlike regular beans, favas actually prefer cool conditions. It's not a huge producer, but it only occupies the spot until mid-summer at which point I can use the space for another crop.
My timing for the spring planting was good, but I may be able to sow the seeds earlier if I can get the soil warmed up (i.e. unfrozen) sooner or if I start the seeds indoors, a technique I see many UK gardeners using. I’m also wondering if I could squeeze in a 2nd planting, even though favas are not supposed to be suitable for growing during the summer.
This time round I planted 2 seeds per spot and spaced each spot 6” apart. I’m thinking of perhaps doing things a bit differently next year, although I haven't made a final plan yet. Fava beans seem to be one of those veg with a lot of variation in how they are planted.
I will also change up my support method, but what I eventually go with will depend on how I decide to sow the seeds – either planting them individually in a grid or sowing them in groupings with wider spacing.
I won’t be trying any new varieties at this point. Since I now know what the growth habits of these two varieties are, I would prefer to stick with them when I do my tinkering on spacing and timing. I have plenty of saved seed from both varieties, which is a good thing as the original seed packets didn't hold that many seeds and I ended up sowing them all.