Permaculture plant: Broad Bean

Broad beans (Vicia faba) are prized as much for their fleshy beans as they are for their potential use as a nitrogen-fixing cover crop. This ancient food of early Mediterranean civilisations is still widely cultivated across the world today. Sometimes known as ‘fava beans’ (fava from the Latin word for bean), they’re a popular staple across the Middle East and Africa, and are commonly eaten as a snack across virtually every continent.

They may not grow to Jack and the Beanstalk proportions, but broad beans are almost as easy to grow as those fabled magic beans. Pop them in a sunny spot come autumn (in temperate regions—they’re not suited to tropical climates) and see them burst forth with vigour, quickly overtaking other plants you’ve mollycoddled through seedling-hood.