Beans, Broad

Jan / Feb, Mar / Apr, Sep / Oct
May / Jun, Jul / Aug

Why Grow It

Broad beans are generally the first legume to produce a crop, making them one of the first new season crops of the year. Broad beans are an ideal veg to try out if you are a beginner GIYer, as they are very easy to grow, prolific, and they freeze well. They are also a hardy crop – they can survive in harsher conditions, such as frost, unlike most veg and will grow in any moderately fertile soil.

  • Broad beans can be sown directly in the soil, or you can sow in module trays for transplanting later.
  • Sow ‘early’ broad beans in October for a crop in May/June, but only do so if your soil is good – they won’t fare so well in wet, heavy clay.
  • Alternatively sow between February to April for a summer crop.
  • Sow seeds 5cm deep, 15cm apart in rows 30cm apart. You can apply the same spacing if transplanting from modules.
  • Keep the area weed free and water if the soil is dry at the flowering stage.
  • Pinch out the top growing shoot when the plant starts to set pods.
  • Plants can get blown over so you can enclose a row of broad bean plants within a ring of twine strung between canes.
  • Start cropping from the bottom of each plant and work your way up.
  • They can be harvested at the mange tout stage (i.e. before the individual beans form) when they are about 10cm long, or left for podding for individual beans.
  • Don’t let the beans get too large or they will become tough, unless you want to skin the beans.
  • Aquadulce Claudia
  • Witkeim Manita
  • The biggest problem for broad beans are blackfly, which will be clearly visible at the top of the plant and can stunt its growth.  Pinching out the growing tip helps to prevent them. If they do colonise the plant, don’t be in too big a hurry to spray. In organic gardens you will often see ladybird larvae appearing in large numbers to eat them up. If ladybirds don’t come to your rescue then give the plants a spray with the hose, but be careful that you don’t break the tip off.
  • Chocolate spot is another problem – it’s a fungus that causes brown spots on the leaves and pods. It is most common in damp, humid weather – leaving enough space between plants will allow air to circulate between them and may prevent this problem. If your plants are affected, don’t worry too much – unlike other diseases, such as blight, chocolate spot will usually just reduce yield, so you,should still have a crop to enjoy.
  • When the plant has finished cropping, cut the plant out, but leave the root in the soil. Broad beans are nitrogen fixers – they take
    nitrogen from the air and fix it in the soil, which will be good for crops that will be planted there next year. If you dig up the root you will see tiny little white balls among the roots – these are nodules of nitrogen.
  • Broad beans are sweeter when small – in fact, you can eat the whole pod when they are 2-3cm.