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How to: Growing fava beans

If you are a beginner in the garden, growing fava beans might be just the thing for you. They thrive in many different climates and are a delicious and nutritious food source!

I'm making holes in the soil to plant the fava beans in.


My kitchen garden is gradually starting to thrive with an abundance of the vegetables and greens I love the most. I do however always feel a certain level of doubt when spring has come and there’s still so much that needs to get done in the garden. But then one day I suddenly realize that the garden beds are quite full and that I can count on getting a good harvest this season too. There’s no better feeling!

But let’s get back to the fava beans! I started the first of several batches in the polytunnel already in early March. It will soon be time to plant the first fava plants outside. I’ve decided to use two different methods at the same time, so I will also sow fava beans directly in the open field. They will grow a bit slower than the first batch.


Frö i en brun papperspåse. Growing fava beans, seeds in a brown paper bag.

Since I grow a lot of fava beans, I like buying a large amount. This variety is called Witkiem.


Planting fava beans together with strawberries

This year’s fava beans have been planted together with strawberries. The berries are planted along the sides of the six meter (20 feet) long garden bed. I was also growing parsnips between the strawberries up until a week ago, but they have been harvested now. There’s no need to use fertilizer before sowing. I usually just prepare the soil by raking it. The plants will, after all, be covered with mulch later in the season and get all the nutrition they need that way.

I’ve used a rake handle to make holes (up to 10 centimeters or 4 inches deep) in the soil. I usually make three rows of holes around 20 centimeters (8 inches) apart. I then put 2-3 fava beans of the “Witkiem” variety in each hole. You can start harvesting these beautiful bright greens beans quite early in the season.



Growing beans in clusters

I always try to put the beans quite close in tight rows or little clusters when I grow them in the open field. Birds often try to steal my bean sprouts and I always make sure to have a surplus. I would hate to end up with an empty stomach after all that work! When the seeds are planted in clusters, the sprouts are grouped up in every location. This means that every group of plants help each other stand up and I won’t need to tie them together for support.


En bädd med jord och hål. Growing fava beans, the bed.

I plant the seeds with a distance of 8 inches (around 20 centimeters) between both the plants and the rows. You don't have to think too hard about it though, as long as they aren't too close together.


Watering the beans

The fava bean seeds are quite large and dry. I usually don’t put them in water to soak before planting them, but I’m very meticulous about watering either when I plant them or straight afterward. You could of course also sow when it’s raining. The easiest thing to do is to water each hole separately when you plant the seeds rather than water the entire bed when you’re done. There’s no need to water at all when the beans are completely covered by mulch later in the season. Another plus: You won’t need to worry about the weeds then either!


Guide: Planting and growing beans


Direct sowing and pre-sowing treatments

I’ve sown a large number of beans in the open field but I also have around 40 little plants in my polytunnel. They were sown in early March and are soon ready to be re-planted outside. They have a bit of a head start and will be ready to harvest a few weeks before the other batch. I mix these two growing methods so that I can keep harvesting these lovely beans over a longer time period.



Remember that the fava beans will be at their best if they’re stored in a cool place after they’ve sprouted. Doing this will make the plants really nice and chubby! Greenhouses or polytunnels are perfect for this purpose. Keeping them there is a lot better than storing them indoors, which will make them look quite lanky. The beans grow quickly indoors so don’t sow the beans until about 2-3 weeks before you’re planning to put the plants outside. Good luck!
/Sara Bäckmo

11. April 2023