How to Grow Broad Beans (Vicia faba)

With easy-to-handle large seeds, robust nature and ability to grow in the ground or containers, broad BG_Aquadulcebeans make a lovely crop of vegetables to try if you’re growing your own crops for the first time.

Broad beans are grown for the large green beans inside the pods, although young pods can be eaten whole. Most types grow to be at least 1.2m tall but dwarf varieties are available, which only grow to around 35cm, if space is limited.

They’re relatively easy to grow and produce a huge crop that’s easy to store by freezing, plus home grown broad beans have fantastic flavour compared to those that you’d find in the supermarket.

Equipment required to grow broad beans:

How to grow broad beans from seed?

When to sow broad bean seeds?
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For spring sowing: February – April

For autumn sowing: October – November

For planting young plants: May

Sow broad bean seeds outside in October or November, providing the ground is still warm. Sowing in autumn means you can achieve an earlier harvest, starting from around May the following year.

Alternatively, they can also be sown outdoors from February throughout spring. If sowing in February, it’s a good idea to give them a head start by warming the ground with a polytunnel or cloche until they germinate. To give them even better chance of success you can sow them indoors or in a propagator, one per Rootrainer is ideal.

When sowing outside, sow 4-5cm deep in drills made with a dibber. Seeds can be sown 20 – 25cm apart in staggered rows.

How to sow:
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  1. Prepare a pile of vegetable growing compost, with a good balanced nutrient content for vegetables
  2. Fill 9cm pots with the seed compost, striking off the excess and lightly patting down the soil so it’s flush with the top
  3. Sow one broad bean seed per pot to about 2.5cm (1 inch) deep
  4. Cover with more of the seed compost and place pots on a water tray, water with a can fitted with a ‘rose’ (sprinkler at the spout)
  5. Insert a label and leave in a cool, light position

When the green shoots push through the soil, water the modules daily. At this stage of growth they are called ‘seedlings’. Make sure the compost is always moist without being waterlogged. Tip out any excess water in the water tray at the end of each day.

Planting broad beans:

After around 14 days your broad beans will be big enough to move on into containers. If the weather is always warm keep containers outside. If it’s a cold spring bring containers indoors at night and return them outdoors by day.

A 20-30cm (8-12in) pot will take two plants comfortably. If planting in containers, be prepared to stick in some surrounding supports in a ring around the plants as they grow. Tie a double row of string around the ring of supports.

Water each morning in spring, and morning and evening if it’s particularly warm.

In late spring to early summer pick the beans daily. In the event of a glut, broad beans freeze well.

When to harvest broad beans?

For autumn-sown seeds: May – September

For spring-sown seeds: June – September

For spring-planted young plants: June - September

How easy are they to grow?

From seeds: Easy, but requires a little bit of time

From plants: Very easy –suitable for beginners

Where to sow them and what soil is best?

Well dug soil that’s preferably manured the previous winter. Autumn-sown crops benefit from shelter and well-drained soil. Broad beans prefer a sunny, sheltered position. They also require support, such as canes.

Our Top Varieties

Aquadulce Claudia, Masterpiece Green Longpod, Sciabola Verde

How to Grow, Harvest and Store Broad Beans

Growing

Tall varieties require some support. Canes should be pushed into the ground at next to each plant. Use Pea & Bean Net between canes for extra support.

For best results, feed established plants with a good multipurpose feed, such as Bio-Gro Black Gold seaweed fertiliser.

Once the plants reach 1.2m tall, cut off the growing tips to encourage bushier growth and more beans. The tips can be eaten as spring greens.

Pick the pods regularly to encourage the growth of more. Young pods can be cooked and eaten whole.

Harvesting

Pick green tips about 7.5cmlong when the beans are still in flower and before the pods form. These can be steamed very quickly and eaten like spinach.

The immature pods are eaten whole, semi-mature pods are shelled and the young beans are eaten as flageolets. Mature pods are shelled and the beans used fresh or dried for winter use.

Storing

The easiest way to store broad beans is by freezing them. This way they can be used cooked or defrosted as and when needed. Broad beans can also be dried and stored in air-tight jars.

How to Grow Broad Beans from Young Plants

Planting

Your young plants will arrive in May, just as they’re ready to be planted out in your garden or allotment. They should be planted 20 – 25cmwith growing supports, such as canes, should be positioned next to each one. Water-in after planting.

Broad Bean Pests and Diseases

Broad beans can be susceptible from the following pests and diseases:

  • Blackbean aphid/blackfly – Young shoots are often covered with masses of black aphids. These growing tips can be snipped off and disposed. As a precaution, the rest of the plant can be treated with Plant Rescue Bug Killer
  • Mice – Sometimes mice unearth the seeds as soon as they’ve been sown. If you notice this happening it’s best to cover them with fleece or netting to prevent the mice getting in. Alternatively, sowing in Rootrainers and planting out once germinated is a goo preventative method
  • Chocolate Spot – Dark brown spots and blots on leaves develop and can sometimes kill plants in wet seasons. Infected plants should be destroyed.

For Best Results

Improve plant health with Bio-Gro Plant Health Invigorator to suppress insects, pests and fungal diseases and boosts vigorous healthy growth.

You May Also Need

Protect your young broad bean plants with Insect Net.

Use Pea & Bean Net between canes for added growing support.

Pre-dig the soil with our lightweight, dry Organic Extra Natural Farmyard Manure.

Health Benefits of Broad Beans

Broad beans contain an amino acid called L-dopa, which stimulates the brain to make dopamine – the chemical associated with happiness.

Broad beans are also rich in potassium, which can have beneficial effects on blood pressure. Eating foods rich in potassium is the best way of maintaining healthy potassium levels, rather than taking supplements.

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