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University of California
UC Master Gardeners, Santa Clara County, CA
Fava beans growing at our McClellan Ranch project
You may want to rest in the winter, but the soil life needs to remain active and protected and preferably weed-free. If you’re not planting vegetables or ornamentals in an area for a few months, try plants designed to feed the soil and the organisms that live in it. Cover crops are ideal for putting nutrients back into your soil and keeping weed growth to a minimum. Fava beans are the most popular cover crop in this area and can be seen in abundance in community gardens. Other common crops are clover, vetch, and bell beans. Different cover crops provide a variety of benefits. Beans and other members of the legume family fix nitrogen from the air and make it available in the soil and to plants. The roots also break up heavy clay soil and improve its structure. While fava beans are edible, they provide the most nitrogen to the soil if they are cut up and dug in while they are still in the flowering stage.
More Information: Choosing and Using Cover Crops
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