Broad beans -- also called fava beans in some countries -- are named for their large, flat, round seeds, which come in a variety of colours. The beans can be eaten fresh or dried, or planted to produce new bean plants.
Broad bean plants take four to five months to grow. During this time, the bean seeds develop in large green pods 5 to 30 cm (2 to 12 inches) long.
Broad beans should be planted in cold weather in shallow soil -- about 5 cm (2 inches) deep. When the bean is watered, the shell softens, allowing nutrients to feed the growing plant.
As the plant begins to grow, the seed splits open, and roots develop to anchor the bean plant in the soil.
Once the roots are secure, the broad bean seed will sprout, producing a stem and leaves above ground. Both the roots and the stem will continue to grow.
The broad bean seed will eventually grow into a leafy plant about 60 to 150 cm (2 to 5 feet) high. It will produce bean pods, which should be picked while they are still green.