Known as the Windsor beans or fava, broad beans are a great plant to grow for beginning gardeners. This type of legume is very easy to plant, take care, and harvest. Also, they are delicious and rich in fibre, protein, and other essential vitamins. Keep reading this guide to learn how to grow broad beans and reap the best benefits.
Choose a broad bean variety
Before starting, it is necessary to know that there are many varieties of broad beans with different features. Whether you want to grow them in a large hoop house or small garden, there is always the right option for your space. Some hardy and excellent types include:
They grow only around 30 centimetres high. Thus, this is a great option for hoop houses, small gardens, or anywhere with tight spaces.
Imperial Green beans
This type of long beans is known for its flavour. They can produce huge pods with up to 40 centimetres in length. Each pod might contain some big beans.
They are compact plants which produce heavily if you pick frequently. The beans are sweet so you can eat them without cooking.
Aquadulce Claudia beans
Known for its hardiness and flavour, this variety is an excellent choice for late autumn or winter.
Pick the right date to plant broad beans
Depending on your location, you might want to start planting your broad beans in late autumn after cleaning up the garden from the summer. This means you should harvest them during spring to prepare the ground for the next batch.
However, in those areas with freezing winters, it is essential to wait until spring. Broad beans typically thrive in the temperature range from 15 to 18 degrees. If the temperatures go beyond 27 degrees, they might struggle to grow. For that reason, you should choose the right date to sow your broad beans for optimum development.
Prepare the ground
Broad beans are typically nitrogen-producers, you do not necessarily have to fertilise the ground. But if you want, make sure to apply a low-nitrogen option and make sure the soil is well-tilled. The ideal place for growing broad beans should be directly exposed to sunlight and away from onion plants. Consider tilling the ground and adding seed compost to increase the amount of nutrients.
Plant broad beans
Before planting, you should gently moisten the soil with water. Avoid adding too much water because it might cause standing water, which isn’t an ideal condition for broad beans.
Next, you should directly sow the seeds in moist, well-tilled soil. Use one of your fingers to make a small hole around 5 centimetres in depth in the ground and put the seed inside. Find the eye or dark spot of the seed and plant it directly downward. Place them 20 centimetres apart in double rows. If you want to plant large varieties, it is better to leave more space.
For colder months, you should start with growing your beans indoors in empty toilet tubes and seeding trays to keep them from being exposed to extreme conditions. Fit the tubes snuggly in the tray, then fill them 2/3 full with potting soil. Put one bean in each tube. Gently water all tubes to compact the soil, then fill more soil to cover the beans.
Keep the seeding tray at room temperatures until your beans sprout. Now you can move them to a sunny spot with the right temperature.
Watch this clip for better understanding:
Tend broad beans
Once you have planted your broad beans, here are some important tasks to ensure they grow quickly:
As the plants begin to gain height, you should stake the heavy pods to prevent them from sagging over without support. Otherwise, they can flop over and promote mildew or damage their roots. You can use old bed-street strips or twine to tie these plants gently and keep them in upright positions.
Broad beans would ensure dry spells, but it is better to keep them well-watered, particularly if you are living in warm climates. Ideally, you should water deeply and sparingly to prevent standing water. Avoid watering overhead or on the tops because it might cause mildew.
Building a row cover
If you have problems with pests or wild animals, consider creating a row cover. It can be made of cloth sheets or plastic which can be staked and draped easily over the plants. This will leave sufficient space for warmth, air circulation, and growth.
In the autumn, row covers would trap the heat and protect your beans from frost near the ground. Make sure to check for wet rot and fungal diseases at their base. If you notice any yellowish or whitish parts, allow for more air and less water.
Aphids love beans and often gather at the tops of your plants, near new buds and shoots. Many gardeners tend to keep them off by applying the insecticidal spray, but a simpler method is to cut off the top parts where aphids often congregate.
Harvest broad beans
You can harvest broad beans when they get bright and distinct in each pod. Ideally, you should suck the beans out of the pods by holding the pod and pull each string. Depending on the chosen variety, there might be 5 to 10 beans in separate pods. While this method takes time, it might ensure the quality of the beans.
After harvesting, you can enjoy broad beans in hearty salads, soups, and other dishes. Steaming and dressing with pepper or salt is the best way to eat this type of bean. They are delicious, meaty, big, ideal for eating with red meat.