The Broad Bean is the hardiest and earliest of all the beans to grow yourself. Like many vegetables, shop bought versions don't do the tasty flavour justice. They are well worth growing to enjoy fresh from the furry pod. There many varieties to try including the Red Flowered which has stunning deep red flowers and a beautiful fragrance as well as delicious beans.
Soil and Aspect
Grow Broad Beans in heavy soils that are well manured and have good drainage - Manure should be incorporated and dug in during the Autumn.
Choose an open sunny site, protected from strong winds, especially if growing over the winter.
Broad Bean Sowing
Overwintering varieties are sown in late Autumn. Other varieties can be started off from late winter through to the end of the Spring.
Sow in double rows in a shallow trench 20 cm wide and 4 cm deep with 20 cm between the seeds. Alternatively Broad Beans can be started off in Rootrainers in the greenhouse early in the year for planting out in the Spring.
Keep weed free throughout the growing season - a Speedhoe will make short work of weeds between the rows. If there is a dry spell, give plenty of water throughout the period until the pods start to swell. Provide support for taller varieties with canes or an Ornamental Frame. When the first pods start to form, pinch out the top 8cm of growth - This will reduce the danger of black fly attack and aid pod formation.
Harvesting and storage
Pick the pods when they have become swollen. Do not allow the pods to become too mature because they will become leathery and tough. Continuous harvesting extends the cropping season. Broad Beans are best picked and used fresh. Any surplus beans can be frozen or dried.
Pest and Diseases
The most serious problem for the broad bean is black fly - Removing the growing tips when the pods are starting to mature will help to deter this problem.