Adding Nitrogen with Fava Beans

Plate showing broad beans
Image via Wikipedia

I finished making bed #3 today. I also made (cleaned) one 5’x5′ pecan bed and started a new compost pile. Doesn’t sound like much but it took about six hours. It’s predicted to start raining overnight. A little rain often makes it easier to pull weeds and grass from the beds. I need to finished cleaning beds 2 and 4 this week because they will be double dug and planted with fava bean next week.

Fava beans (Vicia Faba) are a leguminous plant not related to the common bean. They are native to north Africa and southwest Asia and have a history dating back thousands of years. Today they are used mainly in Mediterranean dishes. Planted in the garden , fava beans fix nitrogen in the soil and help repel root nematodes. But unlike other more familiar beans, fava is a cool season crop. It can survive in most areas where temperatures drop as low as 10 degrees farenheit. The fava bean root system runs deep into the soil thus improving tilth and air and water flow. Planted in the fall, fava beans are ready for picking by early to mid spring, depending on where you live.

We are not planting the fava bean for picking but will instead cut the plants at soil level when they are 10-50% bloomed out, probably late February to early March in our region. Doing this will add nitrogen to the soil for the tomatoes that will follow. The cut plants will make a great nitrogen addition for the compost pile too. We will also be planting a 5’x5′ area for seed saving; this bed needs to get made this week too.

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2 thoughts on “Adding Nitrogen with Fava Beans

  1. how do you know that the beans should be “10-50% bloomed out when you cut them down? Some say don’t let them bloom, others say don’t let them bud. I’m confused and would like more info. on this. Thanks

  2. A minimum of 10-50% bloom tells the grower the plants are maturing and that nitrogen nodules have formed along their root systems. If cut too early, the plants may not have formed sufficient nodules for increasing soil nitrogen.

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