If your inner chef is calling for something new to cook with, why not give microgreens a shot? Not only are they fun to use in the kitchen, but you can easily grow your own microgreens in a matter of weeks. Now, if you really want to get crazy then we suggest a less common but no-less-exciting plant: fava bean microgreens!
Fava bean microgreens are some of the prettiest, most lush greens you can grow. They have thick stems and smooth, vivid green cotyledons. They’re among the hardest microgreens to grow, thanks to some finicky germination rates. However, determined gardeners should have great success with these microgreens.
Fava microgreens are favored for their crunch and sweet, nutty flavor. They’re excellent in a salad, especially when paired with peas, kale, or broccoli. Fava microgreens are also great for your health. They have higher concentrations of nutrients than their mature selves, so they’re chock full of fiber, iron, protein, and Vitamin C. Adding them to your diet can aid in preventing cancer and strengthening your heart health and digestion.
Want to know something crazy about fava beans? There’s a genetic disorder named after them because they’re literally the only food that makes it act up. Called favism, this genetic disease is an enzyme deficiency that affects roughly 8% of the population (as of 2012). It’s sensitive to the chemical compound Vicine, which is produced by Vicia faba. If a person with favism eats any part of a fava plant, they’ll develop hemolytic anemia. So, if you happen to have favism or develop any strange symptoms after eating this food, it’s best to leave fava beans out of your microgreen garden.
Fava Bean Microgreens Quick Info
|Ideal Harvest:||12-15 days|
Growing Fava Bean Microgreens
They may be harder to grow, but micro favas are grown just like most other microgreens. We’ll simply tailor the usual process to a fava plant’s preferences. Here’s what you’ll need to get started.
- Seeds: search for high-quality, organic, or heirloom seeds – we love the fava bean seeds from True Leaf Market
- Growing medium: purchase coconut coir or seed starting soil
- Lights: we highly recommend T5 grow lights
- Containers: two trays, one with drainage holes and one without
- Medium-sized bowl
- Small weight
- Misting bottle
- Kitchen shears
There are two subspecies of Vicia faba: var. major and var. minor. We’re only going to use the major variety (var. minor is grown mainly for animal feed). You’ll often see this variety referred to as broad beans.
Broad bean legumes are often harvested when they’re young, large, and plump. However, they may also be harvested when more mature, after they’ve dried out a bit and shrunk in size (they’ll also be brown instead of green). Both harvests are edible, but only the older seeds are reliable in planting. Young, large broad beans are able to germinate but are so plump with moisture that they often rot before that happens. For the best germination success rate, only use small and dried fava beans.
You won’t get far with growing microgreens without the right soil. Our go-to is seed-starting soil since it has fine particles that roots can easily navigate. Coconut coir is also a great choice. Made from coconut husks, this alternative growing medium is excellent at saving water without getting soggy. Broad bean plants are also good candidates for hydroponics.
Some seeds have hard coats or shells that protect the seed embryo inside (think sunflower seeds). This extra layer of protection sometimes does its job too well and makes it harder for the seed to germinate. Luckily, we can soften up that outer shell by soaking them in water.
Fava bean seeds have a tough, outer covering so we’re going to soak them to jump-start germination. Fill your medium-sized basin with lukewarm water and let the seeds swim for 6-24 hours. While they’re soaking, you can prep the growing trays.
We’ll start with the tray with drainage holes. Fill it near the brim with your choice of soil and level out the surface. Give it a nice watering with the misting bottle. Then, grab your pre-soaked seeds and spread them all across the surface. They should be close together, but not overlapping.
Mist the surface again and then place your second growing tray directly on top. Your microgreens seed should be entirely in the dark now, which is the start of the blackout period.
Place a small weight on top of the cover tray (no more than 5 pounds). Fava bean plants don’t have a very consistent germination rate, but the weight will help with that. The first seedlings won’t be able to shoot upward, so they’ll work on establishing their root system while the rest of the seed germinates. When about 90% of the seeds have sprouted, they’ll collectively push apart the two trays – weight included.
While this is our preferred method of planting microgreens, many gardeners swear by using a dome lid or thin layer of soil instead of a tray. Feel free to experiment to see what works best for your garden!
Soaked broad bean legumes take around 3-4 days to complete germination under their tray, but we’ll give them a few extra days in the dark. When you do remove the cover tray or dome, you’ll find a mat of thick stems topped with bent, folded cotyledons (they look a bit like a flock of geese!). The seedlings will be very pale in color, but will quickly turn green when you turn on the lights.
Position your grow lights 1-2 feet above the growing trays. Consistently switch them on for at least 12 hours a day. As time passes, you’ll see each stem shoot up and unfold its large, lush cotyledons. The shoots will also turn a nice shade of green under the grow lights.
Since it takes 2 weeks to grow these microgreens, they’ll likely need watering again. We want to keep the shoots as dry as possible, so we’ll moisten the soil from the bottom of the tray. To do so, grab the tray you used for the blackout period and pool in a little water. Then, set the growing tray directly in your new watering tray for 15-20 minutes. The root system will take a drink through the tray drainage holes without getting the above-ground growth wet.
They’ve been planted, germinated, and watered and now your fava been microgreens are ready to harvest! This will be 12-15 days after planting, but you do have some wiggle room. By now, your mat of micro plants will be large, lush, and green. They’ll also be a little taller than most other microgreens and stretch towards the lights.
With microgreens, harvesting is usually limited to the cotyledons. However, the entire broad bean plant is edible, so you can wait for the first few true leaves to grow in. Be aware though that the flavor profile may change as the plant matures. We recommend taste-testing your first crop every few days to determine your optimal harvest time. If you decide to let your next crop grow for longer, space the seeds further apart in order to maintain good air circulation in the tray.
To get harvesting a broad bean batch, you’ll need some kitchen shears or a sharp knife. Cut the growth in bunches a little above the surface. Sadly, these microgreens don’t grow back after harvesting, so you can chuck the spent soil and roots into your compost bin. Be sure to wash the trays thoroughly before using them for your next crop (might we suggest kale or broccoli microgreens?).
To keep your microgreens at top quality, keep them as dry as possible. Hold off on rinsing with cold water until you’re literally about to throw them on your plate. Add the microgreens to salad, soup, sandwiches, or anything that could use a healthy crunch.
Leftover microgreens will store in the fridge for about a week. Stash them in a sealed container or jar, wrapped in a paper towel. If the towel starts to get damp, quickly change it out so your hard-earned greens stay fresh.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Can you eat fava bean sprouts?
A: Yes, and they’re delicious! If you want a bit more nutrition and flavor though, we recommend taking the extra steps to turn those germinated seedlings into microgreens.
Q: What beans can be used for microgreens?
A: If you can consume the plant’s mature leaves, you can use practically any type of bean. Fava and mung bean plants are some of the most well-known for growing microgreens.
Q: Can you eat fava bean greens?
A: Absolutely! Chefs love to use these microgreens in lettuce salads, where they’ll hold up well among tomatoes and heavy dressing.
Q: Can fava beans be poisonous?
A: Not usually, but they can cause problems for people with a specific genetic disorder called Favism. If someone with Favism eats any part of a broad bean, they can develop anemia.
Q: Can you eat broad beans that have sprouted?
A: Yep! Broad bean is just another name for fava bean, which is delicious and packed with nutrients when sprouted.
Q: What part of fava bean plant is edible?
A: All of it! You can munch on the sprout, the cotyledons as microgreens, the plump seeds pods, and even the dried-up seeds.