Broad beans are the star of the ‘hungry gap’. Their pretty flowers are a welcome sight in spring when other crops aren’t quite ready or have reached the end of their season. Combine that with fantastic cold resistance and heavy cropping and they become a real no brainer! Follow these top tips from experienced garden bloggers and Instagrammers to grow your own bumper crops of broad beans.
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Grow broad beans where they can be admired
“Broadbean ‘Crimson Flowered’ is the star of the veg garden right now,” enthuses senior gardener Clare at her plant-filled Instagram @silverandgreen. The fabulous, brightly coloured flowers really stand out in June. A strong second place goes to broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’. Check out Clare’s photo of the glorious black-flecked white flowers if you’re looking for an ornamental edible for your kitchen garden. Both are gorgeous additions to any allotment or garden!
Soak broad bean seeds before sowing
Give your seeds a boost like Denise from @urbansanctuarygarden before you plant them. She soaks her broad bean seeds overnight in lukewarm water before sowing them directly into prepared raised beds. The proof is in the pudding, as she gets “100% germination.” Check out Denise’s Instagram page to share her garden wins, wildlife and plenty more good advice.
Sow hardy broad beans in autumn for an early crop in May
Over at Up The Plot, experienced allotmenteer Andrew Stacey likes to sow his super hardy broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ seeds in November. This blogger cleverly overwinters his autumn sown plants to enjoy a crop of pods weeks earlier in May. Make sure you keep them indoors if your soil is heavy with clay, adds Andrew. Broad beans don’t like sitting in waterlogged ground!
Sow broad bean seeds in late winter or spring for summer crops
To combat a thieving mouse, Instagrammer Laura from @lamagardener waits until February to sow her broad bean seeds and then keeps them in a closed cold frame to germinate. Judging by the healthy crop of pods she was able to harvest in June, the cold frame plan works! Stay vigilant like Laura if you know you’ve got a hungry mouse about and watch her short video reels for inspiration.
Support your broad beans as they grow
“The easiest way [to provide support] is to surround the rows with canes, and then use twine or wire to create a ‘cage’ for them,” explains Liam at Allotment Book. Alternatively, he recommends growing a dwarf broad bean. Dwarf varieties don’t need staking and won’t be toppled in wind prone gardens, he says.
Don’t waste your broad bean tips – sauté them!
Don’t throw away your broad bean tips! They’re delicious sautéed in butter and sprinkled with salt according to no-waste Instagrammer Kate from @kates_field. She loves “finding new ways to use bits from the garden,” and also harvests onion scapes and kale flowers if the plants start to bolt. May is the perfect time to nip off the growing tips of your bean plants and give this tasty recipe a try.
Be vigilant for spots on the leaves of your broad beans
If you see brown spots on the leaves of your broad beans it’s probably ‘chocolate spot’, explain the experts at Thompson & Morgan. Not as tasty as it sounds, this fungal disease discolours the leaves of infected plants and, in especially bad cases, kills them. Keep an eye out in warm, wet weather and remove any affected plants as soon as you see them.
Treat blackfly infestations with a simple homemade spray
Writing for the Thompson & Morgan blog, Jono from Real Men Sow says there’s a simple solution to prevent blackfly from affecting your broad bean crop. You can stop these common pests in their tracks with a generous spray of warm soapy water all over the infected area, he explains. You could also try starting hardy varieties off in autumn, rather than waiting until spring. “Many gardeners will tell you that overwintered broad beans suffer much less grief from the aphids,” he says.
Double-pod your broad beans before eating
When seasonal veg enthusiast Emily from @emilyontoast created a recipe for farmers collective @Riverford, she paired fresh broad beans with flatbread, mint, lemon zest and cream cheese. “I highly recommend double podding” your broad beans to remove any bitterness, she says. After podding, Emily loves the bright, acid green colour of the tender little beans, which are a feast for the eyes as well as the taste buds. Check out her Instagram account for lots of fantastic new ways to use your fresh, homegrown produce.
Leave broad bean roots in the soil at the end of the season
When your broad bean plants finish cropping, “cut them down to the base, but leave their roots in the soil – it will enrich it hugely for next year’s glorious harvests!” This is the wise advice from broad bean expert Elaine, one of the knowledgeable trio behind the fantastic source of gardening know-how and humour that is the The 3 Growbags. The roots of your broad beans are covered in nitrogen fixing root nodules, she explains, so it’s a great way to naturally fertilise the ground for free! Read her full article for more top tips.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning from these experienced growers. Find more information and advice about growing peas and beans over at our dedicated hub page. Stay in touch by giving our social media pages a follow to be the first to hear about our latest products and updates.
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