Newest Review: ... bean rust, a fungal infection. Reduce the humidity around your plants and this should be seen off. Using Broad Beans Very young po... more
Delicious beans and scented flowers
Member Name: Lunaria
Date: 02/05/12, updated on 02/05/12 (114 review reads)
Advantages: tasty and full of goodness
Disadvantages: plants can be suspectable to disease and fly
Broad beans can be sown in November or February depending where you live in the country and the severity of winter weather. Even though I live in Wales I can sow during November as I grow the beans in a polytunnel. If growing outdoors a cloche or fleece covering could be used to protect early sown plants from harsh frosts and wind. An Autumn sowing will produce a harvest for Spring and a February sowing, a harvest for early Summer.
Broad bean plants like a rich soil so I prepare the plot by digging in a good amount of well rotted manure (leaf mould or compost would be equally as good) and add a few handfuls of potash as this is recommended to help protect plants against a fungal infection called chocolate spot. Spacing for sowing depends slightly on the variety of seed chosen but I usually sow 5cm deep and 20cm apart in rows at a distance of 45 cm. It is important not to plant too closely so there will be adequate airflow between the plants as this helps prevent disease. I have so far always found germination rate very successful and within a couple of weeks little seedlings appear, it is then a matter of regular watering and occasional weeding of the plot.
When the young plants reach approximately 10cm in height I place stakes at the corners of each plot, quite closely to the plants, these I then use to secure a string support around the plants when they become taller during March. Individual stakes could be placed near each plant at this point but leaving this until the plants are fully grown could result in root damage.
In April my broad bean plants are covered with flowers and these produce a surprisingly wonderful fragrance. I would be tempted to grow broad beans just for the benefit of this lovely scent (similar to sweet peas) whilst weeding and tending plants in my polytunnel at this time of year. As recommended in gardening books I pinch off the tops of the plants at this stage to encourage the pods to form. As the little pods grow extra watering is often required as well as a careful watch for aphids or black fly. If these pests are found I spray immediately with organic insecticide or water with a little washing up liquid and this quickly solves the problem.
When the beans in the pods are clearly visible they can be ready to harvest. I like to pick whilst still young for tender sweet tasting beans. I pick from the base of the plants upwards and will then harvest regularly. It can be quite time consuming to remove beans from the pods but well worth the effort in my view. Cooked lightly and served with a little butter they are truly delicious. I find freshly picked broad beans can store in the fridge for up to 5 days and they also maintain flavour well when blanched and frozen. As an added bonus the plants after use are a good addition to the compost heap as they are high in nitrogen.
Broad beans seed packets are available from most garden centres and specialists, they can be priced anywhere from £0.95 for 60 seeds to £ 3.20 for 45 seeds depending on variety and retailer.
All in all, I highly recommend growing broad beans if you are considering to do so and have the space.
Thanks for reading this review :)
© Lunaria 2012
Summary: Well worth a little patience, effort and the cost of a packet of seeds.