Annual or winter annual legume. Up to 5' high. Frost-hardy. Bell beans (aka small-seeded fava beans) are like Sunn Hemp’s tough cousin—the one with the full sleeve tattoos who hiked the Appalachian trail in the winter. Like Sunn Hemp, bell beans boast an unusual versatility—able both to fix atmospheric nitrogen and build generous amounts of carbonaceous biomass. But while Sunn Hemp is a tropical beauty who crumples at the first sign of frost, hardy bell beans will happily sprout in half-frozen soil and may keep growing even after the first snows. 4-5' tall stiff-stalked plants with fleshy glabrous leaves and pretty purple-tinged white flowers. Tolerates a wide range of soil conditions, though sensitive to heat and drought at flowering. Raw seed; use with Garden Combo or Field Pea & Vetch inoculant. Seed 2" deep at 150-200 lbs/acre, 5 lbs per 1000 sq ft.
As cover crop: Plant in very early spring to mow and incorporate at flowering, or in mid-fall to protect soil from fall rains before they winterkilling at 10–15℉.
As feed grain: In temperate climates with long cool springs or warmer winters than we have in Maine, bell beans are a great alternative to peas or soy; plant in late fall for harvest in mid-spring. They don’t perform well as a grain crop in Maine because they won’t survive the winter and if spring-planted tend to drop their blossoms without setting pods in temperatures over 70℉.