Broad beans must be one of the easiest of vegetable crops to grow, so easy in fact that they make the ideal first vegetable for the novice or kids to love to grow.
Large dry bean seeds can be sown in the open ground in Autumn or Spring, or raised in pots, should the Winter weather prove unsuitable.
No matter how you choose to grow your broad beans, one thing is for sure you are going to love the reward and relish the harvest, experienced only by gardeners who choose to reap the benefits felt when growing your own fresh broad beans and vegetables.
Broad beans could be compared to Marmite, you either love them or hate them. I imagine that many of us as adults shy away from trying to grow Broad beans, due in part to a childhood dislike for such a rugged vegetable.
Tastes change and develop as we mature so it’s not surprising that broad beans tend to be favoured by the older generation, as we grow to appreciate different tastes and textures.
Steeped in History the Broad or Fava beans are even mentioned on Egytptian tombs and provided a staple diet for livestock and as a field nourishing crop. The Broad bean we have grown to love in the UK, is a larger seed cultivated form of the legume that made it a popular household vegetable.
Broad beans are more often refered to as Fava beans outside of the UK, they are a rich source of protein and fibre, as part of a balanced diet that can reportedly help with a weight loss programme.
Seed merchants offer a varied range of named cultivars of Broad beans, specially selected for unique cultural and enviromental traits.
- ‘Aquadulce Claudia’: Popular fast growing and hardy long pod variety for autumn or early spring direct sowing.
- ‘Bunyard’s Exhibition’: Pre 1835. this traditional variety is another long pod that produces a harvest of tasty pale seeded beans with 7-9 beans per pod.
- ‘Imperial Green Longpod’: An superb tasty variety, plants produce a very heavy harvest with pods growing up to 15 inches in length containing 9 green beans. Awarded a RHS Award Of Garden Merit (AGM).
- ‘Optica’: Lower growing plant, awarded the RHS Award Of Garden Merit (AGM). It is a very heavy cropper with short pods containing 5 white beans. Pick young pods and eat like Mangetout.
- ‘Masterpiece Green Longpod’: Reliable, cultivar with a slender pod.
- ‘Medes’: A popular, heavy cropper, good habit on this variety of broad bean.
- ‘Red Epicure’: Pods contain up to 5 crimson red beans. Dates from 1894.
- ‘Scorpio’: Raised for the frozen vegetable industry with pale flowers and small, mild tasting beans
- ‘Stero’: A very popular variety with thin pods.
- ‘The Sutton’: A dwarf that produces small, tender beans ideal for pots.
- ‘Witkiem Manita’: This early maturing cultivar has good yields and hardy.
When to grow
Broad beans have been associated with a winter crop due to the frost tolerance of acclimatised plants and germinating seeds that continue to grow at low temperatures. Grown as a field crop to prevent soil erosion field beans an inferior strain of fava bean an ancient form of green manure.
Where to grow
Best grown as a wind break or physical barrier to your allotment or vegetable garden and always as part of your crop rotation programme.
Best growing medium
Previously manured ground that yielded potatoes will have a great friable well worked soil that would benefit from the application of an organic fertiliser or poultry manure.
Raise seeds under protection in a loam based compost if prolonged frost prevents a late Autumn outdoor sowing.
Seeds geminated in pots have delicate roots that dislike disturbance, using jiffy pots and planting without root disruption as the peat pressed containers are biodegradable.
Broad beans dislike the heat of the Summer sun and are best raised on the allotment when little else will flourish. Pinching out the growing tips when they begin to flower will encourage the plant to concentrate on producing healthy fruiting pods that will supply you with amble fresh broad beans throughout the Spring.
Pest and Disease
Hardy, tough and resilant the broad bean is resistant to most pests and disease providing the ideal growing condtions will ensure your broad bean do not surcumb to attack from Blackfly or Chocolate spot.
Broad beans are so easy to pick you are going to love harvesting time. To enjoy tender broad beans try and pick while the pods are small, these immature pods can be enjoyed like mange-tout. Long pod varieties can hold up to 7 or even 9 beans per pod however in my opinion what you gain inquantity you lose in quality, as the larger the bean the tougher the texture.
Freshly picked Broad beans take only a few minutes to cook in a boiling pot of water and can be easily removed from their rather tough shells. Frozen broad beans should be cooked following the manafactures instructions, whereas dried broad beans will need soaking overnight prior to cooking.
Nothing beats growing your own vegetables for your family kitchen.
Growing your own vegetables has been proven not only to be a rewarding hobby but also a healthy one, so it’s not surprising that many backyard gardeners and even those with a terrace are also turning to grow their own.
A collection of fresh herbs to micro greens and salad leaves there is little doubt that fresh grown produce looks, tastes and even smells better than manipulated mass-produced crops.
Additional benefits of growing your own include the increased activity and exercise to improve your mobility and metabolism but also the mind. Gardening has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety, in both adults and children. A welcome distraction from everyday life gardening can absorb all your senses me transport you to carefree couple of hours tending to Mother Nature.
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Broad beans must be one of the easiest of vegetable crops to grow