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Fava Beans - more than just beans  RSS feed

 
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Joseph's seeds want to grow, and do they. I planted most of all the different beans I got from him this year and they are vigorous in my climate, taking some abuse just fine, and are they growing. I got them in a little late so will have a late harvest but can't wait. Didn't matter if big, small, bush, or climber. You'll be happy with Lofthouse seeds, Casie Becker.
 
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Casie: I started a germination test on the fava beans a few days ago. It's my best harvest yet, and I've only just begun to harvest. Plus I had enough green pods to share them 3 weeks at the farmer's market.

Deb: Thanks for the grow report. I love it when my seed gets into other people's gardens, and grows better than it does for me. I get teased sometimes that my "medium" moschata squash are more like "large"!  I grow without  fertilizers, or added compost. So when my things get into a high fertility garden, I sometimes get wonderful grow reports. And my weeding is iffy, so when they get into a well weeded garden...

 
Deb Rebel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:Casie: I started a germination test on the fava beans a few days ago. It's my best harvest yet, and I've only just begun to harvest. Plus I had enough green pods to share them 3 weeks at the farmer's market.

Deb: Thanks for the grow report. I love it when my seed gets into other people's gardens, and grows better than it does for me. I get teased sometimes that my "medium" moschata squash are more like "large"!  I grow without  fertilizers, or added compost. So when my things get into a high fertility garden, I sometimes get wonderful grow reports. And my weeding is iffy, so when they get into a well weeded garden...



My weeding is a little iffy and so is watering (weather is really off cycle this year so the thunderstorms brewing at night, sometimes they soak sometimes they tease) and they're still growing like gangbusters. You're doing a good thing, Joseph. Please keep up the good work. I look forward to a probably late August harvest or early September....

Just wish I could get the grasshoppers to go away, with it being a lot wetter this year, it's bugs Bugs BUGS!!!  Those pictures you posted of your favas, are almost porn they're so lovely.
 
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My garden is definitely weedy. I've seen Deb report how vigorous your seeds are in the past. It factored into deciding I want your seeds. I'm also hoping that plants adapted to your harsher fall and winter conditions are going to be able to take full advantage of our mild winters.

There's also the fact that you've focused so much on the taste of your food (rather than the shipping) My mother particularly wants some of your muskmelon seeds. We have noticed how even our home grown cantaloupe aren't as tasty as they were in my childhood.

Actually, I should ask before I send you anything. I bought a bulk amount of http://www.rareseeds.com/pusa-rudhira-red-carrot/
Since they were developed specifically for subsistence farmers, would you like me to send a small amount of seed to add to your genetics?

 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Deb Rebel wrote:Just wish I could get the grasshoppers to go away, with it being a lot wetter this year, it's bugs Bugs BUGS!!! 



My garden is overflowing with grasshoppers in late summer. I remember one time grasshoppers ate 95% of my corn cobs in the field. But the 5% that survived have become resistant to grasshoppers.

One time I grew radish seeds and the grasshoppers ate 100% of the seed pods. No selection possible that year for that crop. I'd have to try again, and harvest seed when about 90% of it had been consumed. It's possible that is pure random chance. But it's also possible that there is some genetic component to survival.

Casie: Sounds like a dream carrot. I was working on breeding a high-beta carotene carrot 20 years ago, but alas, I let mice eat my seeds when I moved and left them in a cardboard box in a garage. And the shape works in spite of my hard clay-ish soil.

I cuss my tomatoes sometimes that I lose so many of them on the way to market. But it means that they taste fantastic. No cardboard tomatoes coming out of my farm!!! I don't care much for the taste of most tomatoes, but I still make the sacrifice and taste every tomato before saving seeds from it.

With fava beans, I am still at the point of selecting for great growth. In the next few years, I can start paying attention to how they taste.



 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Here's what one of my fava bean patches looked like this week.  The plants are about 3 feet tall. I planted 3 patches: One last fall, one via transplants this spring, and one direct seeded this spring. This patch is the transplants put in the ground a day or two after winter snow-cover melted. It seems to have done the best.



Two years ago, this is what my favas were looking like just before harvest time...



 
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Looking for a cooking tip - with fava beans do they need peeled for best results in cooking? Does the peel affect the texture of the food?
Many thanks - D
 
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Dawn, I hope you get plenty of answers.  So much depends on what stage they are in, and how you like them.  I have limited experience.  When the bean pods are large and still green, I have broken open the pod and also slipped the skin off the beans.  They make a great base for a salad when prepared this way.  (And I can't remember if after removing the pods you blanch or steam the beans before slipping the skins-- I think probably so).

 
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I would have thought if eating them skinned was common, they would sell packets of pre-podded, pre-skinned beans.  But they don't do that here.

I've never had a skinned broad/fava bean.
 
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Roger Taylor wrote:

I've never had a skinned broad/fava bean.



I have in the Mediterranean import shop.  Both dry and canned.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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slipping the skins is well worth the time.  This is the only way I have ever had them, and heave been trying to figure out how to grow them ever since, more than 10 years ago!

I did see that Joseph did trials and the best ones were started before spring, and then set out at the "right" time.  He is in a similar climate, I just need seeds and to know the right time, and I'll have my fava salad again next spring. 
 
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R Ranson wrote:

Roger Taylor wrote:

I've never had a skinned broad/fava bean.



I have in the Mediterranean import shop.  Both dry and canned.


Maybe they eat them that way in the Mediterranean, or perhaps they're used for hummus.  Be interesting to know.
 
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Thekla McDaniels wrote:slipping the skins is well worth the time.  This is the only way I have ever had them, and heave been trying to figure out how to grow them ever since, more than 10 years ago!



I've been trying like crazy to find a way to pop the skins off, especially the large fava beans.  Any tips or tricks?

I'm actually so fed up with the skins that I'm tempted to give up growing the larger favas (if I could find a different staple food that fit that niche in the garden).  I find it really hard to digest the skins. 
 
Casie Becker
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It happens accidentally when you pour cold water into regular beans that are boiling. Even if you're not boiling for cooking the finished product, blanching them and then immediately dropping them into ice water might split an loosen the skin. This year will be my first time trying fava beans, so it's just a theory.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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What Casie said is my best memory.  I think there is only a certain stage of development that one would do this.  These are for fresh, when the pods are too tough to eat, but the seeds/beans are not yet mature.  Once you've blanched and chilled them, then, you have to pick up each bean and kind of press/squish  it in your fingers and the seed slips out from the developing hard outer seedcoat.  You don't squish in the middle, but from one side.  the seedcoat has to split for the part you want to come out. Most of the seeds slip their skins, but a few are more persistent, then it seems like you have to start a slit which will expand.
 
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I love to cook fava beans, out of their pods but still in their skins, by boiling them in salted water for just a couple minutes, until they turn bright green.  When one of them pops its skin, I figure they're done.  Then, you pick them up, make a tiny bite in the thinner end and squeeze the fatter end.  The barely soft, delicious bean will slide out of the skin into your mouth!

Yum!!

So I do half the work.  I pull them from the pods, but let everybody do the work of peeling them, at the table.  You just need a bowl to toss the empty skins into.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Great idea!  Nothing like playing with my food while eating it.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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A couple weeks ago, I harvested the fava beans. It was a glorious harvest. The best that I have ever had. I have been growing favas for years, but finally got the genetics, habits, (and perhaps weather), that allowed them to really thrive this year.  I noticed a trait that might prove to be useful...

About 80% of the plants in the patch produced seeds and then croaked. About 20% of the plants in the patch re-sprouted from the roots. That would be an amazing trait if they are able to produce a fall crop of fava beans for me. So I culled, keeping the plants that are re-sprouting more vigorously and precociously.

Dead Fava Plant


Fava plant that re-sprouted from roots.
 
Deb Rebel
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:
A couple weeks ago, I harvested the fava beans. It was a glorious harvest. The best that I have ever had. I have been growing favas for years, but finally got the genetics, habits, (and perhaps weather), that allowed them to really thrive this year.  I noticed a trait that might prove to be useful...

About 80% of the plants in the patch produced seeds and then croaked. About 20% of the plants in the patch re-sprouted from the roots. That would be an amazing trait if they are able to produce a fall crop of fava beans for me. So I culled, keeping the plants that are re-sprouting more vigorously and precociously.



Sign me up for some seeds. Need to look for some more Lofthouse-coins, I definitely want some more of your seeds.

Mazel Tov on a beautiful harvest.
 
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The brown seed coat is typical of the smaller, less-selected varieties that are used for green manure crops and livestock food. (thus the name horse bean.)  The dark brown color is caused by strong-tasting tannins in the skin. They have been bred out of the garden varieties that were meant for eating by humans, like Windsor, D'Aquadulce, etc. The trade-off is that the the smaller-seeded cover crop varieties are more cold-hardy

Steve Solomon, when he had Territorial Seeds, bred a  a small-seeded, cold-hardy horse bean selected for lighter, more palatable skins. The idea was to have a homesteader self-sufficiency crop that could take advantage of abundant winter water and use the farm or garden space during the off-season. The variety is called Sweet Lorane, after the town when he lived (and a Country Joe and the Fish song of the late sixties). Unfortunately, he moved to New Zealand, nobody continued to select the variety, and it  quickly reverted back to the dark, tannic skins. It was still available, but no longer so tasty.

Enter Alan Adesse, longtime farmer and one of the original organic seed pioneers. He decided to revive Sweet Lorane, and started re-selecting for palatability at his farm in Oregon. The newly re-selected, less-tannic, beans are once again available. Bountiful Gardens carries them in packets. Southern exposure carries larger amounts but I don't know if they are the re-selected strain. I believe Alan is continuing to select for ever-more-tasty beans that retain the cold-hardiness of the the cover crop types. A fine example of on-farm breeding for crops that the big companies and universities are not interested in.
 
raven ranson
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Saltspring seeds sells sweet lorane, but I don't know which line.
 
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This fall, I had two extra harvests of fava beans.  These must have come up from some compost, but they grew all summer and made some lovely big pods.  I cooked them green and in the shell like edamame.  Boil for 2 to 5 minutes, strain, then toss with salt.  The people eating the beans get to have the 'fun' of shelling.  They weren't that young, but the skin on the bean (inside the shell) wasn't too bad.  Quite edible.

As for it being fall, I planted my fava beans this week.  I'm not doing anything with my plant breeding projects this year, so I just planted a kilo of small favas they sell for ground cover.  That way, it doesn't matter if they get tilled under in the spring.  But I hope they will be able to grow 'till harvest.
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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I currently have three crops of fava beans in the ground.

1- Plants that have already made seed and re-sprouted from the roots. Some of them made seed.
2- Plants from seeds harvested and re-planted in August. Some of them made seeds.
3- Seeds that I put into the ground today.

I don't really expect any of the mature plants to survive the winter, but I expect that some of the seeds might germinate first thing in the spring.

I intend to start fava bean transplants about 3 weeks before our snow-cover typically melts so that they can go in the ground within a day or two of snow melt.

 
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Nice job, Joseph! I wouldn't have expected a regrow. Mine just plainly died after going to seed (haven't removed them though).
I had quite a good crop with three cultivars this year, so I'm pushing the boundaries for next year with 13 cultivars (maybe less, this is a wild guess, but I suppose some of them are the same cultivar with a different name)... some of them will be sown in the coming days.
 
Casie Becker
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I planted the first of the fava seeds I got from Joseph, today. Tomorrow I'll plant the land race into a back yard bed. I asked a neighbor if they'd be interested in trying a few in their front flower bed and so a few seeds are heading next door. I just need to find another time when both of us are home to pass them over.

I planted several varieties from Baker Creek Seeds a couple weeks ago. I watered once and then left them alone. We haven't had any rain since, but they're poking the first leaves above ground. I think that's a very good sign for them being able to survive in my garden. Hopefully tomorrow will be the last of the 90 degree days.
 
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This fava bush started growing in the heat of the summer and just keeps on producing.

Some pictures I took today, middle of November.  It has no idea it's winter.  Still flowering and setting pods.



 
Casie Becker
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Thinking about fava beans since my first plants have started flowering. This article http://skillcult.com/blog/2010/06/25/fava-beans has a lot of information. Particularly for those of use wondering how to deal with the skins on the beans, he talks about it after the third photo.
 
Casie Becker
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It made me laugh, so I'm sharing it here. Checking on one of my rows of a fava beans this morning I found one in the grass outside of the bed. The bean itself was at least four inches above the grass, but it had thrust a root down and was as big and healthy as most of those properly planted. My guess is a squirrel dug it up after it started to sprout.

Related news, I check the roots on of the plants I culled. Favas don't need special inoculation to form nodules here. It's looking more and more like this is one of the perfect crops for our winter. Happy, healthy plants, preparing the soil for the next crop. Lets just hope they turn out productive, too.
 
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My first plantings died.

The survivors are not near flowering age yet.

 
Casie Becker
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Well, I planted one bed with seeds from Baker Creek. The other beds were planted a month later, with seeds from Joseph Lofthouse. So far, the only ones which are flowering are the ones from Joseph that came off crimson flowered parents. The general population favas from him (both planted in the second planting group) still aren't blooming. I suspect there's something related to the red flower genes that causes early blooming, also.
 
Casie Becker
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I think we're at the end of the season here, so it seems time for a full grow report. We had a huge population of stink bugs (especially the harlequin bug) and that shows in damage on most of the seeds. I'm still going to include them in my planting attempts this fall. They don't have to be pretty as long as they'll grow.

I didn't end up with a single seed from a crimson flowering fava. From the more tradition domesticated line (Windsor, and a variety with the word violet in the name) I have a grand total of 11 beans from both beds. The violet beans (which produce a dark purple fava) show the least insect damage of any.

I didn't think Joseph's grex line was doing very well in my garden. In fact I think I may have had about ten percent produce beans. I'm also grateful that I'd already seen how many different sizes they come in as many of the beans produced were smaller than those of the more traditional line. Despite smaller plants and losing so many to environmental pressures at the end I have more than four times the beans from his plants as the others combined. Some of his line are even still alive and flowering in the back garden. I'm going to let them keep struggling along. I now have dreams (unlikely though it is) that they'll stagger their way through the whole summer and then come on again with wonderful productivity in the fall.

Considering I did harvest a few beans for eating earlier in the season, the domesticated plants aren't quite as far behind Joseph's as they seem. In the end I think the Windsor produced the most in total, but the most productive individual plants were definitely those few that produced well from Joseph's.

I look forward to planting again this fall. With fewer insects and weather that more traditionally supports fava production, I'll be interested in seeing how well the next generation does.  I still have plenty of seed set aside from the first generation to do a fair comparison.

Oh, we definitely did decide we like the taste of favas. If I had to try to put it into words, they taste sharply green compared to most beans. Sorta taste of asparagus overlaying a black eye pea flavor, to me. Unique, but nice.
 
Thekla McDaniels
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Just wondering, Casie, if you can do any climate moderation on those beans you are hoping will make it through the summer.  I don't know your climate, nor what the favas want, but I am guessing a little cooler and maybe (?) a little more humidity.

shade cloth?  if the climate there is dry, you could maybe get some evaporative cooling by wetting the ground beneath and around the plants, or get some mist type sprayers in their area. It's all guess, it's the kind of thing I might try in your situation (but my climate).

Great to know Joseph's seeds are that hardy.  Way to go Joseph, seedsman extraordinare!
 
Joseph Lofthouse
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Here's the current status of my fava beans: Just starting to flower.
purple-fava-bean-flower.jpg
[Thumbnail for purple-fava-bean-flower.jpg]
Purple flowered fava bean
brown-fava-bean-flower.jpg
[Thumbnail for brown-fava-bean-flower.jpg]
brown colored fava bean flower
 
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I love fava beans, first ate them while I was working in fine dining in SF. They are a labor of love, we are used them similar to english peas, adding to pastas and salads, just barely cooked. I'm surprised that some people can't eat them, never heard that before, certainly was never mentioned in the restaurants.

Our weather is very mild, so I overwinter them. This past year was my first year growing, and I didn't realize that they would get so tall, and I didn't properly stake or contain them. Mine ended up about 8 feet tall. I planted the Windsor variety. I was hoping to save seed and/or let some dry, but the plants ended up covered in rust, we had a very wet winter. So harvesting was done in March, plants pulled, beans removed from pods and blanched and frozen. Maybe next year, some can make it to dry.
 
Casie Becker
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8 ft tall favas would be amazing. I'd have had a complete privacy hedge around the front yard. I'm not particularly trying for one as I like to interact with my neighbors, but I could enjoy one for a season. My favas only got about two feet tall. Even the ones that were fall planted so had the longest possible growing season.

edit: sorry theka, just saw your questions.  No, I don't intend to do purposeful climate mitigation beyond what I do to support the rest of the garden bed. I've really taken to heart the idea that plants can be breed to adapt to the conditions of a site, just by planting only plants that survive without heavy intervention. That's why I wasn't running around with row covers to battle squash bugs, stinks bugs, and squash vine borers this spring. Where these plants are they will get late afternoon sun in the hottest part of the summer, reliable water (they're in the wicking garden) and possible a little shade from the popular that grows on the other side of the garden bed. That last bit of shade is a little iffy because it's a fairly narrow tree. I don't know that the angles of the sun and the small bit of shade this casts will ever line up properly. Even if these plants don't survive through summer, I do have mature seed collected from them. Their genes will live on in the next generation.
 
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I've been growing a short season variety of fava called "early windsor" that I got from the old Garden City Seeds company in Hamilton MT before they were sold about twenty years ago. It never really did anything for me and I just kept replanting the few seeds I got back in May or June. Now sometimes it was five years or more between gardening years- so I didn't patiently grow it every year! One year about 2011 I bought a packet of longer season purple favas from territorial. Planted them too late, had a complete crop failure. If I had known more about favas back then I would have grown them with the early Windsor and at least gotten some hybrids.

Last year I bought Joseph's seed which would have been from the 2016 crop, Ianto's return, and Frog Island Nation, and my mom wondering why I didn't grow favas bought me a packet of Broad Windsor as a gift!

Then I followed Joseph's advice and planted them all in March.

They all did great I got several lbs of seed back!

I noticed the resprouting mentioned above as well.

Interestingly my old early windsor strain from Garden city seeds seemed to be a very different strain from the broad windsor and from all the new strains. Partly it was earlier, shorter, resprouted better, but also partly it had a higher disease load. I saved just a few seeds separate of it that I hope will have crossed a bit with the neat new favas but also retain some of those potentially special genetics.

So yesterday I was planting my March seeded stuff and I only planted a few fava seeds in the fenced garden- including those separated early windsor. But then outside the fenced area I went ahead and planted all the seed. I planted it thick in some rich but nitrogen depleted soil where loads of bark and sawdust were dumped. Will see how it does I don't plan to weed it or give it much care.  Didn't see any real potential for natural selection last year, it just seemed like learning to plant them in March did the trick with all favas for my northern rockies climate. I tend to have cooler June conditions here than Joseph gets. Often June is cold and wet here. Usually doesn't get hot till July and August here. Though not always lots of year to year climate variability here. Last year I had a huge vernal pool at this time- this year I have none. It's a much drier spring.
 
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Joseph Lofthouse wrote:

Favism is pretty common among beans... The poison is deactivated by intense cooking. Some people have run into problems with favism when using slow-cookers to cook kidney beans for example. I definitely wouldn't eat fava greens raw. And I have determined that I'm not going to sell fava greens, pods, or shellies at the farmer's market. Seems too risky to ask people to be prudent.



Joseph, I fear that you (or I) misunderstand favism. As I understand it, favism is something that humans have, not an attribute of fava beans, and intense cooking of fava beans will not protect the humans who suffer from favism who eat them. There's more on this at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose-6-phosphate_dehydrogenase_deficiency

Hope this helps.

Brian
 
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I've got some Finnish varieties of faba, I've posted below picture in the Scandinavian seed exchange thread, but it would also add something to this thread.



The black variety is called Mikko, the other Kontu. They are both releases from the same breeding centre called Hankkija at the end of the last century. The size of these beans is quite small, and what I read in a journal was, "...Selection at the Hankkija Plant Breeding Institute was then practiced for earliness and also for small seed size in order to enhance efficient post harvest drying, since crops are generally harvested around 25% moisture content and energy for drying of seed is, in most parts of Finland, the largest single component of energy consumption in a cropping cycle. Small seeds also present less of a challenge to sowing and harvesting machinery than large seeds might."
So yes, some faba beans have indeed been bred for small seed size, although you and I would probably find a larger size been in our garden more interesting.

Where I live, and that's The Netherlands, faba beans aren't even sold much dried. They are available in glass jars in a supermarket and a well-stocked fresh-grocer might have them in their full casing, but I've only seen them being sold dry in 'foreign' stores, I mean stores located in The Netherlands that sell foreign stuff. The type of faba that is common here is way bigger than those Finnish ones, those would also not be called 'broad beans' here.
The Finnish story about the drying still puzzles me - why waste resources on this, but that's what I bumped into.    
 
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I know this an old post, but it so happens I have been thinking of fava beans as I think about planning my kitchen garden.

I added them to wish list because I use them instead of chick peas to make hummus. That might sound sacrilegious to some, but I prefer them.
 
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The daily-ish suggested me to re-visit this topic, so I did. I remembered the mixture of beans my daughter gave to me (harvested from her garden). It included some of those large (broad) beans.
This year I only sowed the speckled beans (non-fava-type, more like brown beans). Now I want to sow the favas. I'll wait a little until it gets more like winter, at the moment the weather here is much too warm.
 
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