Broad beans are one of the easiest vegetables to grow and taste great when picked freshly from the pod. Any excess can also be frozen or dried for future use.
You can eat the fresh shoots in salads, add them to stir fries or let the plants develop and produce a healthy crop of pods full of delicious sweet beans.
NOTE: The method below is for growing broad beans in modules. They can also be sown directly into the garden soil. Make a shallow trench in well prepared garden soil and sow the seeds in this, spacing them so that they are about 15-20cm (6-8 inches) apart. Cover over with soil and keep moist.
Broad beans can be sown in October and November, or from February under cloches to protect them from the frost.
Fill large modules or root trainers with a quality seed sowing compost, such as Gro-Sure Seed and Cutting Compost.
Use a dibber to make holes in the compost inside each module to a depth of about 2.5cm (1 inch).
Sow individual seeds in to each hole and then cover over with more compost. Firm gently. Keep the compost slightly moist and in an unheated propagator in an unheated greenhouse or cold frame.
The seedlings will normally start to germinate with 7-14 days.
When the seedlings are 7.5 to 10cm (3-4 inches) tall, they can be planted out into the garden.
Plant them in rows, allowing space for canes to be placed in the row to support the broad bean plants when they grow.
Remove them carefully from their modules so that you don’t disturb the roots.
Plant them individually into holes the same size as the root ball.
Leave about 20cm (8 inches) between each plant.
Keep the seedlings watered until they establish and hoe regularly to prevent weeds from taking hold.
Start feeding once flowers appear with Westland Potato and Vegetable Feed.
When the first pods develop, keep watering well, particularly on hot, dry days.
Harvest the beans between June and September. You can feel when they are ready by pressing gently on the pods until you feel the beans inside.
TOP TIP – When the first beans start forming pinch off the top 2-3 inches of stem. This will avoid the plant continuing to grow taller, and encourage side shoot growth as well as concentrating the energy of the plant on flowering and producing beans.You can use these tips in salads or stir fries.