Saturday 13 July 2013

Tips for First Time broad beans growers

Homegrown broad beans
Broad beans (a little mature!) harvested from the garden

Broad beans are now ready to be harvested in the garden.  We grew a variety called "Aquadulce Claudia", which we sowed in Autumn (October).

If you are a first-time grower, you might be interested in these top tips for growing broad beans:

  1. Pinch out side shoots as they appear (at the base of the plant)
  2. Support the plants with canes and string - there are many ways to do this, but it's easiest is to stick two canes into the ground, on either side of a row of plants, and tie string from one end to the other and loop it back around.
  3. Water them regularly as they need water during dry periods - we left our patch dry for too long, and lost a few of the young plants.  (See photo below, and you will see what I mean!
Pests and diseases
  1. When the plants are in full flower, pinch out the tops to discourage blackfly
  2. You might encounter Chocolate spot, but I read that it can simply be ignored.  Leaves should be burned or destroyed, and not thrown into the compost.
How to harvest Broad beans growing on plant
Harvesting "Aquadulce Claudia" broad 

You can pick the pods when the beans inside them have swollen.  The general advice is not to leave them for too long, or the beans get old and floury.  Older pods, of course, have really large beans inside, and the younger ones have much smaller beans.

And when you separate the pod, you will find lovely beans within! You can eat the beans just as they are or you might choose to shell them.  I have been throwing broad beans in with other seasonal vegetables like Snow Peas (Mangetout) and lettuce to make this easy salad.

Broad bean plant growing with lots of pods/beans

Broad bean pod split open with five beans
Broad bean pod split open with five beans
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