A delicious vegetable that’s easy to grow and well worth the space. The flowers are highly perfumed, the roots trap nitrogen for the next crop, so broad beans are beneficial in many other ways apart from their eating qualities. You should expect to be picking your own crop between June and August.
Soil and position
Most soils will give a reasonable crop, but if yours is heavy clay or light sand then you should dig in some organic matter such as well-rotted garden compost or Levington Organic Blend Soil Conditioner. Then improve the nutrient level of the soil with a dressing of Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Vegetable & Fruit Plant Food. You are now ready to sow your seeds.
Most varieties are ‘longpod’ ones that should contain 8 or more beans from one pod. ‘Masterpiece’, ‘Aquadulce’ and ‘Exhibition Longpod’ are traditional names and ‘Witkiem’ a more recent introduction. In exposed sites choose a dwarf variety such as ‘The Sutton’.
Indoors: For a really early crop, sow seeds in individual cells of Miracle-Gro Gro Your Own Seed & Cutting Compost in February. Seedlings will be ready for planting out in March.
Outdoors: Sow seed 3cm (2in) deep in March in a shallow drill with a gap of 20cm between each seed and cover with fine soil. For maximum use of space a double row with rows 20cm (8in) apart is normal. Separate each double row by a 60cm (24in) gap. Water well. Further sowings can be made during April and May for successional crops.
Keep weeds under control with a hoe. After flowering and when the pods have started to set nip out the growing tip of each plant. This will direct all energy to producing beans and take away the favourite resting spot for thousands of blackfly. If blackfly should attack your plants spray with BugClear Gun! for Fruit & Veg to keep them clean.
Pick the pods when you can see the beans have swollen in the pod but before they have reached maximum size and have turned large and tough. For best eating qualities the scar on the bean inside the pod should still be white or green after shelling.
When the crop is finished don’t pull up the roots, but simply cut off the stems at soil level and compost in the normal way. This will ensure the nitrogen swollen roots are left below ground level to feed the next crop.