Answer: Bell Beans (Vicia faba var. minor), a small-seeded variety of the Faba bean, are a winter annual legume and native of the Mediterranean region. They are great soil builders and can help dry out soil somewhat in the spring. They thrive when soil temperatures reach 50-60? but will germinate and grow in 35-45? soils. Bell beans reportedly fix more nitrogen in 2 months than any other spring-planted field crop and continue fixing nitrogen through their entire life whereas most legumes peak out before maturity.
Their large tap root and stemmy residue both work to lighten heavy soils. Bell bean plants will not tolerate close mowing nor will they reestablish after any mowing. Although tolerant to a range of soils, they prefer a fertile, well-drained one and won't tolerate heat or drought. Plant seeds 6" apart in rows 30" apart when soil temperature reaches 50? in late winter.
Here are some sources:
Dirt Cheap Organics; 3070 Kerner Boulevard, Unit "T"; San Rafael, CA 94901; (415) 454-8278
Snow Pond Farm Supply; Order Phone: 207-877-0870; Fax: 207-872-0929
Thanks for the question!
Q&A Library Searching Tips