Broad beans (Vicia faba), also known as fava beans, are easy to grow and can be harvested in about 70 to 75 days, as early as mid-June or July. Broad beans have been cultivated since as early as 6,500 B.C., and are high in protein and other nutrients. Broad beans are among the meatiest of beans, providing a mild and pleasing taste for a plethora of dishes. These beans are added to dishes and cooked whole or mashed to make fillings for a variety of cuisines.
Plant broad beans in late March, as soon as the soil is workable. Select a planting site that has deep, fertile and well-draining soil with an ideal pH being 6.0 to 6.8. Plant the broad beans in a spot that receives full sunlight but has some shelter from high winds.
Loosen the soil at the planting site to a depth of about 12 inches using a garden tiller or pitchfork. Spread a 2-inch layer of aged manure onto the soil and mix it.
Plant two or three broad beans together about 2 inches deep into the soil, spaced about 6 inches apart. Space the rows about 2 to 3 feet apart if you have multiple rows.
Thin out the weaker broad bean seedlings after they sprout, leaving the single strongest seedling in each planting spot. Pinch back the top of the seedling plant after the first pods emerge and the plant has reached about 3 feet tall.
Mound the soil around the base of the broad bean plants as they grow to provide support to the plants. Insert a cane or wooden pole beside each plant and tie three or four evenly-spaced levels of string between the poles.
Water the broad bean plants deeply during dry spells or droughts. Pull out any weeds or side shoots that grow around the base of the plants.
Harvest the broad beans in early to mid-summer when the pods swell and look plump. Cut the plants down to the soil level when you're finished harvesting and allow the roots to decay in the soil, which will enrich the soil with nitrogen.