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Growing Broad Beans

This week we are looking at growing broad beans, sowing, growing, harvesting.

 

 

Hugh Venables / Broad Beans

Peter Facey / Broad beans growing in fields at Kilmeston

These hardy legumes are extremely easy to grow, and with a range of varieties from Longpods to the Dwarf cultivars, there is a broad bean to suit any plot garden.

 

Soil

 

 

Well drained, fertile soil of any type will produce good results, though broad beans favour slightly heavier conditions. Early crops in lighter soils should be kept well watered when in flower.

 

 

Sowing and Growing

 

 

Sow outdoors in late winter (providing the ground is not waterlogged and the temperature is above 5°), 8 cm (3 in) deep. Alternatively, sow in pots in late autumn, early winter and keep indoors. Plant into final growing positions in early spring.

You can sow outdoors in double rows, each double row is 18 inches apart (45 cm) with 2 foot six (65 cm) between each double row.

Each plant is about 30 – 40 cm apart.

 

 

Care

 

 

Taller plants need to be supported with canes, or grow against trellis. Ensure the beds are kept well weeded and water well during warm weather to ensure good crops. Keep a check for blackfly.

 

Often rows of plants are held upright by wire or string attached to a ‘T’ post at either end.

 

 

Harvesting

 

 

When pods ripen, collect them regularly to prevent tough beans. If the beans are black or brown at the connection to the pod then they are too old.

 

 

Pests and Problems

 

 

Beans are usually affected by black bean aphids and weevils, though the plants can weather a small amount of attack. Bean seed beetles and mice attack the seeds. In humid conditions, fungal diseases can be a problem, in particular Chocolate spot, so ensure the soil is well drained and plants are spaced as widely as possible.

 

Dealing with blackfly is reasonably easy, but you have to be quick: they come very quickly. I generally cut off the tops of infected plants and burn, but you can squash them with your fingers.

Broad Bean Recipes

To follow

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