Broad beans (Vicia faba), also called fava beans, are tender spring beans that grow best in cool weather. Young broad beans can be shelled and cooked like peas, though they get tougher as the pods get larger. Broad bean plants are bush beans, meaning they do not need support. Pods ripen in 80 to 100 days; the peak broad bean season runs from April to June.
Prepare the ground for planting as soon as it can be worked in the spring. Turn over the soil with a shovel to aerate it. Remove any rocks, sticks or weeds from the garden bed. Broad beans prefer full sun.
Test the soil pH in your garden bed using a home test kit. Most kits require you to place a pH color change strip on a moistened bit of soil, then compare the color to a pH chart. Broad beans require a pH of 6 to 6.8. Amend your garden soil by adding lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it, following the amendments suggested by the Garden Helper (Resources).
Dig a long trench that's 1 inch deep. Sow broad beans in the trench, leaving 4 to 5 inches between plants. Cover the seeds with soil. If you're planting multiple rows of broad beans, leave 18 to 30 inches between rows.
Water the newly planted seeds until the soil becomes moist. Keep the soil bed moist but not wet until the seeds germinate.