Growing Broad Beans, also Fava bean

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25 Aug 12 Andy (Australia - temperate climate)
My broad beans have plenty of flowers - but are not setting any seed - so no beans. Any ideas? Thanks Andy
05 Sep 12 Richard (Australia - temperate climate)
According to 'Organic Gardening' by Peter Bennett, this is a standard problem caused by sowing too early. They will flower profusely despite cold weather, but the flowers won't set pods until the cold is over. (He mentions frosts, but I don't think this issue is limited to actual frosts. I get the same in Perth including this year when I thought I was planting a bit early but went ahead amyway, and we've had little or no frost this season (where I live). As long as you weren't ever so early, you'll probably be OK, with pods setting and growing fast as soon as the weather warms. The growing tips should be pinched out when the pods start setting, as all they'll do otherwise is attract blackfly. Lightly boiled or steamed, they make a 'spinach' quite different from any other veg. I love them, but (like broad beans themselves) they're not everyone's cup of tea. One way to find out!
03 May 21 Celeste Archer (Canada - Zone 7b Mild Temperate climate)
I am having this problem (flowers not pods), this year. I did plant in a different location and I think my issue is not enough sunlight for the beans to set pods; additionally I planted tightly as this is a new garden bed and I was using the favas to condition the soil as much as I was using them for bean production. My research and minimal experience with favas tells me that any of the following might cause the plants not to set pods: 1. Less than a half dozen hours of direct sunlight per day (also planting too tightly causes less sunlight per plant) 2. Not enough water; when the plants flower they need lots of water to set pods 3. Temperatures; too hot or too cold and no beans Despite the criteria, I have found fava beans very easy to grow; growing in soil where nothing else can manage and still getting a decent amount of pods per plant. Water is not an issue in my location, and temps are pretty much ideal for favas (almost all year round). Sunlight is the biggest issue for me as I live in a area with lots of large trees and winters here are mild but overcast. Early spring tends to be fairly overcast as well, and despite still getting 12 hours of daytime in September (fall for this area) the sunlight is not intense enough to get the beans to set pods. That is to say; if I plant at the correct time (based on daylight hours and what months I expect to have good sun intensity) the plants grow, flower and set pods rather quickly. If I plant in the offseason, the plants grow, flower and then I have a long wait until the sunlight is good enough to get my beans to set pods. It's the beginning of May(spring here), and I have favas with flowers that I planted back in or around August (late summer).... no "real" sign of pods yet (I did get a few over the course of the winter and early spring). I'm hoping to get pods in June or so. Again, I planted in part shade and I planted too tight, so much of the "not setting pods" issue was self created.
11 May 21 Celeste Archer (Canada - Zone 7a Mild Temperate climate)
Update: May 11: My fava flowers are turning into beans; already a couple of dozen beans with many of the other flowers on route to becoming beans. I overwintered this crop; starting in August and expect to have full bean production in June. Here is what I found when I overwintered; the plants had more time to grow; and therefore are larger and have a more profuse flowering. I am expecting more beans. The overwinter process did take 10 months from planting seeds to getting beans, however I didn't consider this a real estate hog because I'm hard pressed to think of any crop I would have planted over winter in that space that would have done better. Additionally, I planted favas in spring of this year (April'ish) and am expecting beans in July/August. That is to say the overwinter took longer (10 months), but clearly I am getting more beans earlier in the year (about 6 weeks earlier- it probably would have been sooner if the location was better). I did also enjoy some of the overwinter fava bean leaves as soup garnish so that was also a big plus. Additionally, there were small amounts of beans here and there through out the winter. I suspect there would have been more had the location been in sun, or part shade (the over wintering location gets several hours of sun but a lot of light is reflected on them). I am pleased with the overwintered favas and will over winter again. Our nighttime temperatures in winter hit about -6c but this was only for several nights. Mainly nighttime temperatures here are closer to -2c. After a nighttime temp of -6c (it was a little colder but not much) I covered one patch of favas for several nights (cold spell), and I did not cover the other smaller patch (which is in a windier location). Both patches survived, both are producing - I did have to remove about a third of the plants that where not covered due to wind/cold damage but they rebounded back just fine. My research tells me that favas have a kill temperature of anywhere from -5c to -10c depending on variety.... also if the temperatures dips that low for 1 hour, your probably fine; it has to sustain the temperature (5 or 6 hours) to actually kill the plant (soil temp also comes into play). Again, both patches where fully exposed during the first cold night, but then I managed to cover one of the two patches and the covered patch did fair much better (excluding tarp damage due to poor construction). Both patches survived and are now thriving and producing beans. So getting around to my answer for the original question: how long until you get beans; it's really a matter of how long until all the "setting pods" criteria are met: 1. ample water while flowering - favas need a lot of water to set pods; so once you see flowers; up the watering 2. temperatures (somewhere between 5c and 23c with 17c being about perfect for pod formation) 3. light: about 6 hours of good sunlight and REFLECTION counts in this case - some plants absolutely need direct sunlight, some plants are fine with reflected light or very bright shade. Your shortest number of days for bean production will be about 80days. To get beans in 80 days figure out what months you expect the conditions to meet the above three criteria and count back to figure out your planting date (allow about 10 days for germination) - that is 80 days to beans DOES not include germination time the 80 days is from seedling to beans. Your longest number of days for bean production (provided your area can meet the pod setting criteria) will not exceed a year (under normal conditions) with 10 months being the most reasonable longest number of days. You should remember, that the fava leaves are a very nice green and I certainly reached for them over the winter more than once. All above ground parts (so not the roots - but the stem, branches, leaves, flowers and beans) are edible. Of course G6PD can be an issue and people with G6PD should clear up their problem (increased iron intake via natural sources - cast iron cookware, cocoa etc. - and it could take 6 months) before considering consuming fava (leaves, flowers, beans). Also, G6PD'ers need to really really avoid eating any green part of a tomato plant (small leaf by accident, or part of the stem attached to a tomato). Best of luck.
01 Jun 21 FaithCeleste Archer (Canada - Zone 7b Mild Temperate climate)
Update June 01, 2021 - I have lots and lots of fava beans - and am continuing to get more and more. It looks like it will take until the end of the month to bring them all in. So these beans will take about 320 days from planting to full harvest. The haul was great and I am pleased with the overwintering process - very pleased. The beans that I planted in spring are still a ways off from producing beans -- the plants are also much smaller, and I doubt they will put forth as many beans as the favas that were overwintered. The overwintered favas are a mess, with the tarp damage and some favas rocketing up to what looks to be 9 feet, reaching for the sun (they are in a shady location) - but I am pleased. If I had only grown the spring planted favas, I might have given up on favas all together...... but overwintering seems to be the key here in Victoria, British Columbia for a really good crop of beans...... and I would even grow these in the winter for the greens -- they take a bit of getting use to (as did spinach for me when I was a child) -- but once you get use to the greens they are great. The greens taste like fava beans, and not like any other green. I have a few corrections from my first few posts: 1. when I said I lost 1/3 of the plants that were not covered during the really cold week --- it should have said I lost a third of each plant that was not tarped: so if the plant was 9 feet, I had to cut it back to 6feet. The number of plants actually lost was zero. While I only lost a portion of SOME of the tarped plants and when there was a loss it was about 10% of the plant. Also the plants not covered where in a much windier location (think one step and your off a 12 foot drop and in the Pacific Ocean--so lots of wind) -- the plants that were covered where a couple of meters away from the drop off, and there is noticeably less wind there. So whether or not the tarp really makes a difference here is still debatable; the difference may have been wind chill. 2. when I said I used the fava bean leaves as a garnish in my soups over the winter; it was really more akin to a side salad on top of my soup -- big handful of leaves -- sometime harvested based on a branch breaking due to wind. Stems were ground into pesto. Again, I'm very pleased with overwintering my favas; and expect that in the future I will only overwinter rather than spring plant. Winters here are RAINY with lows at about -2 (and extreme lows as cold as -6 last winter), it is also overcast here during the winter with very few sun breaks.... luckily I get a lot of reflection off the water when the sun does peak through. I grew 4 varieties of fava; including the extra early violets; all performed well; the violets are the prettiest if you take them to the dried pod stage; they all taste about the same.
06 Oct 20 Mike Bearman (New Zealand - sub-tropical climate)
My broads are up to 1.6m high and full of flowers, but as yet not podding yet. Bees are working, temps are moderate here on the Coromandel east coast so not so cold. They better pod soon, or my wife will blame me...again.
05 Sep 12 Chris (Australia - cool/mountain climate)
I second eating the tips - very tasty! Extra protein if you fail to wash out all the blackfly.
28 Aug 12 Jeff (Australia - temperate climate)
Mine have plenty of flowers too - I am in Melb. Don't worry, when the weather warms up further, the pods will form. This is my 3rd or 4th year growing broad beans and they haven't disappointed.
23 Sep 12 Eileen (Australia - temperate climate)
I grew broad beans the year I lived in Tassie. I probably planted them too early (ignorant in a new climate), but the winter frosts didnt bother them at all. Tassie has the old English bumble bee. Pete Cundall reckoned it kept working down to 2 degrees. I had plenty of pods come spring, but maybe it depends on the weather being right for the bees to pollinate? Anyway, we are eating our first beans of the year - on the NSW south coast. Yep, I probably planted too early here too. Gotta love broad beans

Update June 01, 2021 - I have lots and lots of fava beans - and am continuing to get more and more. It looks like it will take until the end of the month to bring them all in. So these beans will take about 320 days from planting to full harvest. The haul was great and I am pleased with the overwintering process - very pleased. The beans that I planted in spring are still a ways off from producing beans -- the plants are also much smaller, and I doubt they will put forth as many beans as the favas that were overwintered. The overwintered favas are a mess, with the tarp damage and some favas rocketing up to what looks to be 9 feet, reaching for the sun (they are in a shady location) - but I am pleased. If I had only grown the spring planted favas, I might have given up on favas all together...... but overwintering seems to be the key here in Victoria, British Columbia for a really good crop of beans...... and I would even grow these in the winter for the greens -- they take a bit of getting use to (as did spinach for me when I was a child) -- but once you get use to the greens they are great. The greens taste like fava beans, and not like any other green. I have a few corrections from my first few posts: 1. when I said I lost 1/3 of the plants that were not covered during the really cold week --- it should have said I lost a third of each plant that was not tarped: so if the plant was 9 feet, I had to cut it back to 6feet. The number of plants actually lost was zero. While I only lost a portion of SOME of the tarped plants and when there was a loss it was about 10% of the plant. Also the plants not covered where in a much windier location (think one step and your off a 12 foot drop and in the Pacific Ocean--so lots of wind) -- the plants that were covered where a couple of meters away from the drop off, and there is noticeably less wind there. So whether or not the tarp really makes a difference here is still debatable; the difference may have been wind chill. 2. when I said I used the fava bean leaves as a garnish in my soups over the winter; it was really more akin to a side salad on top of my soup -- big handful of leaves -- sometime harvested based on a branch breaking due to wind. Stems were ground into pesto. Again, I'm very pleased with overwintering my favas; and expect that in the future I will only overwinter rather than spring plant. Winters here are RAINY with lows at about -2 (and extreme lows as cold as -6 last winter), it is also overcast here during the winter with very few sun breaks.... luckily I get a lot of reflection off the water when the sun does peak through. I grew 4 varieties of fava; including the extra early violets; all performed well; the violets are the prettiest if you take them to the dried pod stage; they all taste about the same.

- FaithCeleste Archer

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