Back in August I wrote about harvesting fava beans https://lopezislandkitchengardens.wordpress.com/2011/08/10/fava-beans/ and said that I would write again about favas when it was time to plant them. The time has come! I planted mine yesterday in the bed where I’d recently harvested winter squash. You can plant them any time in the next few weeks. I chose yesterday because the rain we’d had earlier in the week had moistened the soil and I had the time. Broad Windsor is the variety I planted this year.
I’ve found that planting in a fairly dense grid works best in my garden: four eight-foot rows about a foot apart and seeds spaced eight inches apart. The seed spacing is based on the watering slits on the T-Tape irrigation I use, a slit every eight inches. Four eight-foot rows produces enough favas for us to enjoy fresh and to freeze. I set the seeds an inch or so deep and, most important, place the dark hilum scar down. After firming down the soil, I cover the bed with Reemay to keep birds from attacking germinating seeds.
The seeds will germinate in a week or two and will grow slowly as temperature and daylight length decrease. Once the plants are a couple of inches high, I’ll mulch between the rows and around the plants to keep the soil from freezing. They are very cold hardy, tolerating temperatures into the teens, but if a really long cold spell is forecast, I will cover the bed with a layer to two of Reemay. Even if some of the leaves die back, I’ve found that the roots will send up more leaves.
The plants will start growing vigorously in late January as the daylight length increases and temperatures warm. By March they will be on their way to their eventual height of four feet and it will be time to make a fava bean corral to keep them from flopping over in the wind. I’ll post a picture then. For now, enjoy planting!