Used around the world as both an edible and a cover crop, the fava bean (Vicia faba), or broad bean, is one of the most ancient plants in cultivation. The hearty plant likely became part of the eastern Mediterranean diet, particularly for the Romans and Greeks, around 6,000 BCE.

It also happens to be among the easiest to grow.

As a cool-season crop, the fava bean loves cooler temperatures and is perfect for planting in January through March, with harvest beginning in as early as 80 days.

Favas are a lovely addition to a raised bed garden, but are also excellent nitrogen-fixers well suited as a ground cover crop that promotes soil health. Stalks grow between two to seven feet tall. The flowers not only smell amazing but are also edible, and younger leaves of the plant give a spinach-like spin to your salad.

Packed with protein and fiber, young fava beans and pods can be eaten raw or cooked, while cooked older, bigger beans add a deliciously creamy texture to any meal.

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