Why Grow Broad Beans?
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.
When to Sow
For spring sowing: February – April
For autumn sowing: October – November
For planting young plants: May
For autumn-sown seeds: May – September
For spring-sown seeds: June – September
For spring-planted young plants: June - September
Site and Soil
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.
How to Grow Broad Beans from Seed
Broad bean seeds can be sown outside in October or November (providing the ground is still warm). By sowing in autumn 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. The seedlings can then be planted outside at a distance of 20 – 25cm apart.
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 Grow Broad Beans from Young Plants
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.
How to Grow, Harvest and Store Broad Beans
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.