Beans, Fava & Broad
(Vicia faba) Fava, or broad, beans are a Mediterranean native quite different from ordinary beans. They prefer a long, cool growing season and unike "green beans," favas will tolerate frosts. In USDA hardiness zones 6 and above, they can be sown in the early fall. In cold-winter regions, plant in late winter or early spring, sowing the seed 2-4 inches deep in full sun. Seeds germinate in 7-14 days. These beans do not like temperatures over 75 degrees F, so many gardeners with intensely hot spring weather will find it better to plant quite early and hope to harvest before the spring temperature spikes. If you have to choose, favas prefer cold to hot! You can grow favas for the edible pods, or you can integrate them into your cover crop rotation. For bean production, space plants 8-12 inches apart; for soil improvement as a cover crop, you may space much closer and mow or till the plants when they begin to bloom.
The fava bean was once very popular in American gardens, but fell out of favor in the 1800s as they proved a bit too heat sensitive for hot, dry summer locations. The key to success is to sow your favas at the same time as your peas and potatoes, and to harvest them before the hot summer weather sets in. Broad Windsor thrives in northern gardens.