BROAD WINDSOR FAVA BEAN (Vicia faba) is an English heirloom dating to 1863 that produces 5"-6" pods that hold 5-7 large plump beans when mature, but you can shell the early beans for salads and also eat the young leaves, which taste like spinach. Delicious flavor. Great for freezing or drying for winter consumption (dried beans are buff brown). Favas are also great nitrogen fixers for succeeding crops. Here's a tip: Plant in the Fall for Spring crop. Favas are able to sustain temps as low as -10F. They may "faint" in a freeze or frost, but will right themselves the moment weather warms. Mine do this all winter long and then come Spring, yummy! 25 seeds.
About Fava Beans: Fava or Broad beans originated in North Africa. They are rich in tyramine, and thus should be avoided by those taking MAOI inhibitors. They contain vicine and convicine, which can induce hemolytic anemia in patients with the hereditary condition glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (G6PDD). This condition, which is quite common in certain ethnic groups, is called "favism" after the fava bean. But if you are among those who CAN eat favas they have some very special qualities. Favas are rich in L-dopa, a substance used medically in the treatment of Parkinson's disease. L-dopa is also a natriuretic agent, which might help in controlling hypertension. Some also use fava beans as a natural alternative to drugs like Viagra (no kidding) citing a link between L-dopa production and the human libido. (courtesy of Wikipedia).
GROWING TIPS: Favas are best sown in the Fall and wintered over, or sown in very early spring in rich, well-drained soil that is not too acidic (add lime if necessary). All beans and peas are legumes and benefit from "inoculating" with rhizobacteria. These bacteria do the work of taking gaseous nitrogen from the air and "fixing" or concentrating it in pink root nodules which then slough off, adding nitrogen to the soil in a form other plants can take up as a nutrient, so be sure to rotate this crop each year to spread the wealth and don't forget to add the spent plants to your compost heap. Inoculating your beans and peas will increase germination, and the health of your plants, helping them growing large roots and thus healthier plants. Favas do not like heat, so check your calendar and sow accordingly. I overwinter here in North Carolina with great success. You can even succession crop this though if planting in spring so that you can a steady supply as long as they produce. [In some areas you can get a second fall crop by reducing plants to 3" after production ceases and keeping weeded and watered.] At 6 weeks, cut off the top 2-3" of the plants (which are edible) to encourage branching and when flowers appear pinch out the tips of each stem to help pods form. This also prevents aphids! You should see beans if spring sown in 12-16 weeks. Be sure to provide support! They are sturdy, but if you have any night creatures visiting your plants you may find breakage without support.
COMPANIONS: I planted a thick row of favas next to my strawberry bed and got the largest, juiciest, BEST crop of strawberries I can ever remember! Works just as well with blueberry and raspberry bushes. Why not create a border of favas around all your precious soft fruits!