Fava Fava Fava

Fava bean mania has descended upon the Homegrown Evolution compound this spring. I can’t say enough good things about fava beans (Vicia fava): they taste good, the plant fixes nitrogen into the soil, making it an ideal cover crop, and it’s attractive.

If harvested small you can eat fava raw but I prefer to remove the skins and briefly boil the seeds (around five minutes). Once boiled, fava can be used in a variety of dishes from soups to salads. We just toss them with olive oil, white wine vinegar, mint, garlic and feta cheese.

Curiously, some folks (mostly male and of Mediterranean or black African ancestry) are allergic to fava. In fact, babies in Italy are tested at birth for this condition. “Favism” is extremely rare, so I wouldn’t worry about it.

Here in Los Angeles we plant fava in the late fall/early winter for a spring harvest. In most of North American you’ll plant it after the last frost.

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  1. How many fava plants do you grow for two people. I haven’t grown them before, so I’m not sure of yield. I live about 15 miles from you, so our conditions should be similar, also.


  2. Oh, great post. Raw favas tossed with olive oil and a bit of shaved pecorino is one of my favorite dishes.
    Here in italy I’ve seen them planted as companions under and inbetween olive trees. the timing works so the spring crop of favas mature while the trees are less leafy, so the sun reaches them. Then the bean plants can get tilled directly into the soil. It seems a good way to make use of space and enrich the soil.
    keep it up!

  3. I’ve been growing them here in Sacramento, California for about 15 years now. I was given a few beans from a fellow gardener and now I have plenty to eat and left over beans for the next crop. They make great green manure and seem to atract a good stand of beneficial insects just in time for my summer garden. stick them in the ground and they will take care of themselves.

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