Best and Worst Companion Plants for Fava Beans
Increase Crop Yields, Improve Soil Health, Use Garden Space Efficiently and Keep Pests at Bay
Fava beans (Vicia faba), also known as broad beans, are widely cultivated annual legumes native to the Mediterranean region and one of the world's most ancient cultivated crops.
A rich source of protein, fiber, and numerous essential nutrients, they are eaten by millions of people worldwide. These large beans have a sweet, earthy, and nutty flavor. Their tender to starchy texture turns soft and buttery when cooked.
Flava beans are versatile and can be tossed into green salads, boiled, fried, roasted, stewed, steamed, or mashed.
What are Fava Beans?
- Fava beans are a species of vetch in the plant family Fabaceae, also known as the legume, pea, or bean family, which includes lentils, chickpeas, peas, and peanuts.
- Fava beans are annual plants producing square, upright stems clothed with rounded, blue-green leaves. Unlike many other bean species, Fava beans are not twining climbers.
- Clusters of strongly fragrant, tubular, black and white, or crimson flowers are produced along the stems. The pretty flowers attract native bees, bumblebees, and other pollinators.
- They are followed by thick, bright green, bumpy pods, 6-10 in. (15-25 cm), turning black when fully mature.
- When opened, the fibrous pods reveal a cottony interior and 2 to 8 large, plump, and flat green beans.
- Fava beans are available for a short season in the spring, while dried Fava beans are available year-round.
- This cool-season crop is frost-hardy and can be grown in most climates. However, temperatures between 65-75°F (18-24°C) are ideal.
- Fava beans are widely cultivated as a crop for human consumption and as a cover crop.
- Fava beans fix nitrogen and add nutrients that improve the soil, benefitting the plants that are growing beside them. Beans are great for heavy nitrogen users.
- Both fruits and flowers, and even pollen, can be toxic to certain people who experience favism.
What Is Companion Planting?
Companion planting is an organic method of preventing or protecting plants from pests and diseases, attracting the right types of insects for pollination, enhancing nutrient uptake, and increasing crop production simply by growing specific plants near each other. In essence, companion planting helps bring a balanced ecosystem to your landscape, allowing nature to do its job.
Benefits of Companion Planting
1. Organic Pest control
Some plants can emit scents that either repel insects, attract them, or confuse insects or disease organisms in search of their favorite host plants. They make insects less likely to land on your garden vegetables.
2. Attracts beneficial insects
Some plants help attract beneficial insects, such as ladybugs, bees, and butterflies, that pollinate and help control harmful bugs. Beneficial insects feed on common garden pests, like aphids and caterpillars.
3. Provides necessary shade
Tall sun-loving plants offer shade to smaller shade-loving plants. This results in better products and can also potentially provide pest control. A good example is The Three Sisters Garden. Practiced by Native Americans thousands of years ago, this garden includes corn, beans, and squash. The tall corn provides shade for the lower squash but also stops the squash vine borer beetle.
4. Shelters plants
Some plants can provide windbreaks and prevent soil erosion. Strong winds can damage gardens by removing mulch, topsoil, and eroding beds and hillsides. Rain can also cause severe damage by beating down young seedlings. By carefully selecting the right ground cover, you can help prevent soil erosion.
5. Provides natural supports
Some companion plants can physically support each other, reducing the need for staking. The example of planting corn, beans, and squash together applies here again. Corn provides tall stalks for the beans to climb so that they are not out-competed by sprawling squash vines.
6. Saves space
Interplanting different crops greatly maximizes space and improves productivity in small gardens.
7. Enhances flavors
Some plants can subtly enhance the flavor of other plants. Most herbs have been found to enhance the flavor of fruits and vegetables grown nearby, and Basil grown beside tomatoes is an excellent example. Similarly, chamomile has an aromatic scent that is believed to improve the growth and flavor of cabbages, cucumbers, and onions when grown beside them.
8. Better soil quality and fertility
Some crops help fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and reduce fertilizer needs. Similarly, planting plants with different root structures together can aerate the soil and allow plants to pull nutrients from different parts of the soil.
Not only can companion planting helps your plants to grow better, but it also makes the vegetable garden more attractive thanks to the addition of colorful flowers that help or hinder nearby vegetables. Companion planting combines beauty and purpose to create an enjoyable, healthy environment.
While every effort has been made to describe these plants accurately, please keep in mind that height, bloom time, and color may differ in various climates. The description of these plants has been written based on numerous outside resources.