Fava beans, also known by windsor beans or broad beans, have been cultivated for thousands of years. As I learn more about them it’s understandable why. They are extremely hardy, easy to grow and not picky about the soil they are grown in. On top of that, like other legumes they are nitrogen fixers, so can also be used as a cover crop.
I planted my favas late fall in the middle of the yard, with direct sunlight and no protection from frost. We have had some cold nights this winter, but the favas, along with the broccoli, lettuce and rapini easily made it through with no cover.
Now that we are having some nice warm afternoons I am getting to enjoy their beautiful blossoms. As you can see from the photo, the centers of these large (for a legume) white blossoms are what appears to be black or possibly a very deep burgundy.
Fava beans can be eaten fresh when young, or dried and stored for later use. However you choose to use them, it is recommended that fava beans are always cooked before consuming.
Nutritionally, fava beans are very healthful. They are low in calories and in fat, with no cholesterol as well as being high in protein, iron, and fiber. They also have high concentrations of L-dopa (dopamine), an amino acid that is a neurotransmitter in the brain which declines as we age. Dopamine plays a role in the brain in such activities as memory and energy.
Tasty, easy to grow, healthy to eat and even supplements your soil with nitrogen. What’s not to like about fava beans?
Note: Plant fava beans in November in Maricopa County, Arizona. Soak seed 12-24 hours before sowing. Plant 1″ deep, 1″ inch apart. Do not thin.