Cool season legume cover crop, fixes nitrogen, improves soil structure
Actually a member of the vetch family. A vigorous, adaptable legume. Often mixed with peas, vetch, and oats for cover cropping, or with grasses and other legumes for forage or silage. Produces good organic matter, grows to 3'-6', and fixes Nitrogen at 150 lb/acre on fertile soils. Strong root system opens soils and brings up nutrients. Matures March to May, attracting many beneficial insects to its abundant, fragrant black and white blossoms. Flowers earlier than most other winter annual cover crops. Plant at 2-4 lb/1000 sq ft or 80-125 lb/acre in early-mid fall.
Raw seed, requires Pea-Vetch or Garden Combination inoculantVicia faba
Cool Season Annual Cover Crops are planted in fall to protect the soil over the winter and produce an abundance of organic matter in spring. Fava Beans, also known as Bell Beans, are a superb nitrogen fixer and add lots of organic matter to the soil. The beans are also edible, but the plants are usually tilled into the soil before they are harvestable.
- Ease of Growing
- Grown as
- Days to Maturity
- 60-180 (Fall/Winter)
- Growing Habit
Fava Beans are very hardy and frost tolerant and can grow right through the winter in mild climates.
- Growing Season
- Short, Long
- Cultivar Type
- Growing Conditions
- Cold, Cool, Warm
Legumes like well-drained soil rich in organic matter and a moderate amount of nutrients. This tall legume is deep-rooted. Where winter lows stay above 10˚ F you can sow as early as September. Avoid hot weather.
- Outdoor Growing Temp
- 40°F - 75°F
- Min Outdoor Soil Temp
Most cool weather cover crop should be started when temperatures are still in the 60's to allow the plants to establish before winter, which also prevents Winterkill.
- Start Indoors
- Start Outdoors
- Sun: min. 6 hours daily (Cold, Cool)
Cover crops need full sun when growing in winter, as days are shorter and the sun is lower in the sky. If grown in summer many will tolerate light shade (though they grow best in full sun).
Most of these crops are not particularly drought tolerant and will need regular watering in dry climates (especially when germinating and getting established). However they are mostly grown during the winter when the soil is fairly moist, so don't usually require much irrigation.
You do not need to fertilize cover crop in established gardens, as there will be plenty of nutrients in the garden to meet their needs. Since you will be incorporating them back in to the soil, growing them doesn't remove any nutrients from the soil.
The leguminous cover crops also fix nitrogen and eventually add it to the soil.
- Tolerates light frost
- Small Gardens?
- Attracts beneficial insects?
- Fruit Size
- Plant Height
- Plant Diameter
- Hardiness Zone
- Disease Resistance
- Taste Profile