The following are answers by Sandra who grows her own fava beans as a remedy for the symptoms of Parkinson’s.
Are fava beans hard to grow?
They were a pleasure to me, but some people would consider them difficult. Some of the plants become tall, depending on the variety of fava and on the composition of the soil. Ours had to be staked to prevent them from falling over when they reach about 4 foot. (Falling over can break the plant/ or they sometimes start getting discolored leaves and beans because of close contact to the ground..neither of which I wanted). So, I hammered stakes in each row with about 6 plants in between, and did what is called a Florida weave to secure them in upright position.
I learned to do this when growing a field of tomatoes one year. When done properly, a whole field can be tied in a very short time. A couple of weeks later. A second level of string is used to envelope the plants as they grow taller.
The biggest time consumer is hammering stakes if you grow a large crop. The plants are very hardy and ours survived temperatures down to 26 degrees here in Tennessee. When it dropped lower, they were hit hard……though it looks like they may come back from the roots possibly if the weather ever warms up again.
This is the coldest winter I have seen here. Favas like cool weather. They are actually in the pea family/ and not a bean. They do not tolerate very hot weather. I plan to plant my spring crop, Lord willing, in the end of February or first of March. Once you look at the beautiful, and prolific flowers on the plants, you will see why the bees and other insects migrate to your favas…they are amazing.
I found that soaking the seeds for about 2 days, until they begin to sprout, is best and then setting them directly out into the soil about 10 inches apart and 1 1/2 to 2 inches deep. Once they have developed their first 2 leaves, the root is close to a foot long. They are a good soil builder and bring a lot of nutrients up to the surface from deep in the ground. They are used as “cover crops” in some places plowed under to fertilize the soil, and then the area is replanted.
Where can a person get fava beans if they cannot grow their own?
We have not yet located a source for young/ green/ immature pods. I have come across dried beans in several markets, and even full sized bean pods in Earth Fare…but neither of these will give the l-dopa we need for PD.
You may find a local farmer who would be willing to raise a crop for you. You would have to specify the length you want the beans / or go pick them yourself & come home & process them immediately… so as not to loose the medicinal qualities of the beans. It is best to grow/ harvest & process your own and this will be a priority for me as long as I am able.
The beans (seeds) themselves , whether green or dry, contain very little levadopa….it is the leaves, stems, and the pods surrounding the bean seeds that contain the levadopa.