Planting Broad Beans


Broad beans (Vicia faba) are also known as horse beans, Windsor beans, English beans, fava beans and pigeon beans. This vegetable originated somewhere in the Mediterranean area. The leafy legume vines reach two to five feet tall. Broad bean leaves resemble pea-plant leaves. Broad beans produce small white flowers. The large, thick bean pods reach two to 12 inches long. The large, round, flat bean seeds are white, green, buff, brown, purple or black in color depending on the variety. Broad beans are used as cooked vegetables, dry bean livestock feed or as coffee extender when roasted.

Step 1

Clear away any weeds, stone and grass from your planting area. This eliminates any competition for soil nutrients.

Step 2

Loosen the soil to the depth of six inches with your shovel. Remove any buried rocks, sticks and root masses. Broad beans adapt to nearly every type of soil and drainage conditions.

Step 3

Fix any soil problems before planting the seeds. Spread a two-inch layer of sand on top of the soil if it does not drain well. Create a two- to four-inch layer of compost if the soil is infertile. Mix the soil amendments in with a shovel.

Step 4

Rake and level the planting area until smooth. Every five to eight feet, drive a five-foot wooden stake into the ground. Tie a string every three to six inches up the stakes to form a twine ladder. Broad beans do not have a clingy tendril, so weave the broad bean vines through the strings as they grow.

Step 5

Create a row three inches deep with a hand trowel under the string trellis. Place the broad bean seeds every three to four inches apart in the row. Lightly cover with soil. Do not firm the soil down over the seeds.

Step 6

Plant more broad beans in rows that are three feet apart. Sprinkle water over the row until it is thoroughly wet. Keep the soil moist and the broad beans will sprout in seven to 14 days.

Tips and Warnings

  • Some people of southern European origins have an enzyme deficiency to broad beans. They develop acute toxic hepatitis with influenza symptoms when broad beans are eaten. This can cause death in broad bean sensitive children.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Sand
  • Compost
  • Rake
  • Wooden stakes
  • String
  • Hand trowel
  • Broad bean seeds
  • Water


  • University of Florida IFAS Extension: Broad Bean
  • Washington State University Extension Island County: Fava Beans
  • Oregon State University---Oregon Cover Crops: Fava Bean
Keywords: planting broad beans, vicia faba, planting vegetables

About this Author

Karen Carter has spent the last three years working as a technology specialist in the public school system. This position included hardware/software installation, customer support, and writing training manuals. She also spent four years as a newspaper editor/reporter at the Willapa Harbor Herald.