Growing Broad Beans
Freshly picked broad beans straight from the garden are simply irresistible. They seldom make it to the kitchen at our home as the children always pick them as they come!
Sow direct into the growing site or get them started in modules for transplanting out once they are about 10cm (4in) high. the advantage of module growing is that you can weed out any weak seedlings before committing your bed space for the season.
When sowing direct plant them 5cm deep and 20cm apart into well-drained soil in a sunny spot. Protect from mice and slugs. If growing over winter, it pays to cover plants with a cloche during the very worst weather to prevent damage.
They will germinate within a couple of weeks and poke their heads up a little later.
Support loosely with canes and string once they reach 15cm tall and pinch out the tops to prevent blackfly. Broad beans are quite drought resistant and won't need too much water. Lots less often is better as this will encourage deep root growth.
Pick the pods when they around 15cm (3in), Wait until the pod starts to split so the beans are just visible. The umbilicus should be still green or white. Once it has blackened they become tough but all is not lost. Keep these to plant for next years crop!
Broad beans 'fix' nitrogen from the air, so cut spent plants off at ground level and leave roots to rot back into the ground to release nitrogen for next year's crops..
Broad beans will store for about a week in the fridge before they start to lose their nutrition and flavour. Blanch them before freezing and they will store for around 12 months. Shell the beans from the pod and cook on a full boil for two minutes. Plunge them straight into ice cold water before letting them dry. Tip: shake the freezer bag about half way to frozen so they don't stick together.
- Aquadulce Claudia - The hardiest of all broad beans. They will survive some of our harsher UK winters and are a very reliable cropper.
- Witkiem Manita - A super fast growing variety that can be planted as late as May making it an ideal 'rescue plant' if you've forgotten to sow them earlier in spring.
- The Sutton - A dwarf variety that only grows to 45cm (18in) making it an ideal variety for where space is at a premium.