Garden Q&A: Yes, fava beans can grow well in Maryland

For The Baltimore Sun

I want to grow fava beans, but don't see them among the HGIC crop profiles on your website. Is it possible to grow them in Maryland?

Yes, they can grow well in Maryland. Some years are better than others, depending on the weather, as they like cool spring conditions like peas, with temperatures no higher than the low 80s. You can use the website's green pea profile as a reference. Plant when soil temperatures reach 40 degrees. Fava beans are sturdy upright plants and will not require a support as peas do. Some people have a reaction to raw fava beans. So cook them well before eating and don't pop them into your mouth while you pick, as you might with green peas. Some gardeners have success with fall planting. The seeds germinate and plants grow in fall, go dormant, and set pods in spring.

Hi! I came from Florida where I lived in a condo, so my gardening skill level is "dummy.” I have a small front yard that needs some love. I'd like to plant something native that does not take a lot of space. What do you suggest?

Welcome to Maryland! We are glad you found us. Gardening is a lifelong learning mix of science and art that we are happy to help with. First, how much light does the site get? Full sun? Mostly shade? Do you want a small tree or shrub focal point or a bed of flowers? A summer extravaganza or year-long interest? Search earth-friendly landscaping on the HGIC website to get a better idea of your goals. It lists some native plants for our area, too. For more plant options, including photos and growing conditions for each, read the online publication, "Native Plants for Wildlife Habitat and Conservation Landscaping: Chesapeake Bay Watershed." Visit a garden center, look at plants and read tags carefully. Jot down names or cross-reference with the plant lists above. We'll be glad to help you hone your choices.

University of Maryland Extension’s Home and Garden Information Center offers free gardening and pest information at Click “Ask Maryland’s Gardening Experts” to send questions and photos.

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