These special beans, called fava beans, are popular in temperate gardens because they are a cool-season crop, meaning favas will grow when other plants will not.
However, this does not mean that you can plant these plants whenever you want.
When is the best time to plant fava beans?
The best month to plant fava beans depends on your USDA zone or region, but the growing season starts in early spring. It can also depend on your purpose of planting the beans in the first place as cover crop fava beans grow at a different time from fava beans for seed harvesting.
Let’s start with the best time according to zone and then consider some fava bean growth requirements.
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When to Plant Fava Beans According to USDA Zone
According to your region and climate, here’s the best time to plant favas:
1. Planting in Cold Climates (USDA Zones 1-5a)
You cannot grow fava beans in USDA zones 1-2a unless you use a greenhouse or high tunnel to warm the soil.
However, if you live in temperate regions or places with four seasons (zones 2b-4b), the best time to plant fava beans is in early spring when the soil starts to thaw.
Please note that the ideal temperature to grow fava beans is 60-65°F. The temperature should not go below 40°F and above 75°F.
According to your USDA region from 1-5a, you can start your fava beans from late February to early April. You can also harvest them in the next season so long as you grow them properly.
2. Planting in Mild Climates (USDA Zones 5b-8a)
For people living in the mild Mediterranean climates or in zones 5-8a in the U.S., you can grow fava beans as long as the soil is not frozen.
However, for optimal growth, plant the beans from May to August when the atmosphere is foggy or humid and the soil temperatures are warmest.
You can also plant your fava beans from September or October for a winter cover crop. You just need to make sure that your plants have access to sufficient sunlight and humidity.
Do not grow your fava beans in a place with less than five hours of direct sunlight daily. Also, the humidity should be above average.
3. Warm Climate Cultivation (USDA Zones 8b-13)
Fava beans are cold-season crops, so they are not suitable for planting in the hot zones of 10-13.
However, if you are living in zones 8b to 10a, you still have a chance to grow fava beans.
You just need to ensure that you properly water your beans because they will lose a lot of water through transpiration. Also, consider starting them in the cool season around December.
When is the best time to grow the beans according to the purpose of planting them? Continue reading.
When to Plant Fava Beans According to the Purpose of Planting
1. Planting Fava Beans Because of the Sweet Beans
Fava beans have a lot of uses, but the most popular use remains harvesting and eating the sweet edible seeds.
If you are growing fava beans because of their seeds, the best time to plant them is the beginning of the year’s growing season, which is early spring.
With this timing, you can have two or three batches of fava beans in a year and enjoy the beans.
When you are growing fava beans because of the seeds, you must pay attention to the growth requirements of the plants because if you do not grow them in suitable environments, they will not bloom nor produce seeds.
We will discuss the fava bean requirements later in this article.
2. Planting Fava Beans as Cover Crops
Another use of fava beans is for cover crops.
So many farmers and gardeners prefer using favas as cover crops because of the highly nutritious leaves and other parts of the plants.
If you are growing your fava beans as cover crops, you should start them in the fall so that you can dig and mix them into the soil in early winter.
The best time to start your cover crop fava beans is just one or two weeks after your last batch of vegetables. Most vegetables do not tolerate the cold weather of fall and winter, but fava beans do.
Note that your favas may not make good cover crops if you allow them to flower or produce seeds.
3. Planting Fava Beans as Companion Plants
One common benefit of leguminous plants is that they make great companion plants.
This means that other plants can benefit richly when you grow fava beans alongside them.
If you are growing your fava beans as companion plants, you should sow them in spring or summer.
In this case, the best time to grow your favas is two or three weeks before you plant your other vegetables. In two or three weeks, fava beans will attract nitrogen-fixing bacteria so that the other plants can benefit from them.
Now you know when the best time is to plant fava beans. Continue reading for some fava bean planting tips.
Tips for Planting Fava Beans
To plant fava beans with ease, here are some essential tips for you:
1. Preparing the Soil
The fava bean soil should be airy and have a pH of 6-6.5.
The soil does not have to be very nutritious, but you can amend it with ground-up banana peels or crushed bones to boost its potassium and phosphorus content. You can also amend the soil with compost.
2. Caring for Your Favas
Here are the basic requirements of fava beans.
- Temperature: Even though fava beans are cold hardy, the optimal temperature to boost their growth rate is 60-65°F.
- Humidity: Fava beans will grow just fine in 60-70 percent humidity. Do not grow them in arid places.
- Light: Fava beans need more than five hours of direct sunlight daily. These plants grow best outside, so your chosen location is important.
- Water: You should water the beans regularly and never wait for the soil to get dry. Water your fava beans 3-4 times weekly.
So long as you can grow your beans in optimal conditions, they will grow with super speed.
3. Feeding Your Favas
Fava beans are not expensive to feed because you do not need to buy fertilizers that are rich in nitrogen.
As plants that produce their own nitrogen (i.e., with the help of some microbes), you only need to amend the fava bean’s soil with potassium and phosphorus-rich products.
Remember to pay attention to the soil pH while amending it.
Now you are ready to grow some fava beans, right?
Indoors vs. In-ground: Which Is Best for Fava Beans?
Should you start your fava beans indoors, or should you plant them in the garden directly? Well, it is up to you.
However, please note that fava seeds germinate quickly, and the plant has a fast growth rate. This means that you do not need to start fava beans indoors if you are considering time and their growth rate.
As fast-growing plants, fava beans will outgrow seedling trays quickly, so if you do not plant them in larger pots or transfer them to the garden soon, their roots may suffer.
If you must start the plants indoors, ensure they do not spend more than two weeks in their pots before you transplant them.
As you can see, you can plant your fava beans in different months of the year according to your USDA region and the purpose of planting them. To harvest healthy fava seeds, ensure that you stick to the tips listed in this article.