Growing Broad Beans

Latest Update 8th October 2016.

Broad Beans.
  • In Autumn I sow a double row of broad bean seeds (9 per row) in a Garden Ecobed.
  • I use a 1 metre high timber framed plastic net to separate the rows and provide support when it gets windy. 
  • I plant the seeds 50 mm deep to increase the plant's stability in the soil.
  • Broad beans are a healthy addition to the diet containing lots of fibre, minerals and vitamins.
  • We pick them when young and steam them whole in their pods.
  • Surpluses are left to mature, removed from their pods, blanched for 2 minutes in boiling water, dried and stored in resealable bags in the freezer.
  • They make a pleasant addition to soups in winter.

  • Binomial Name:                                        Vicia faba.
  • Family:                                                    Fabaceae.  
  • Variety:                                                    Aquadulce.
  • Crop rotation group:                                   Legumes.
  • Garden bed type:                                      Garden Ecobed.
  • Recommended soil pH:                             6.0 - 7.5.
  • Minimum sun per day:                               8 hours.
  • Plant spacings:                                        190 mm.
  • Planting depth:                                          50 mm.
  • Weeks to harvest:                                     12 - 22 weeks.
  • Good companions:                                    Potato, Sweetcorn.
  • Climate:                                                   Warm temperate.
  • Geography:                                              Southern hemisphere.
  • This food is very low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium. 
  • It is a good source of protein, thiamin, iron, magnesium, phosphorus and copper, and a very good source of dietary fibre, folate and manganese.
  •  More from nutrition
Growing Conditions: 
  • Broad beans grow best in full sun, but they prefer cool conditions.
  • They need well structured, rich, moist organic soil for best results.
Soil Preparation. 
  • Immediately after harvesting a previous crop, remove old mulch and organic waste from the bed.
  • Apply a 60mm thick top dressing of thermal compost, and cover with straw mulch.
  • Leave the bed for 4 weeks to build up worm and microbial activity.
Growing Instructions. 
  • In April, clear some of the mulch out of the way in the prepared bed and sow seeds 100mm apart.
  • Sow them about 30mm deep using a dibber and after initial watering let the Ecobed take over water supply.
  • Once the beans have grown to about 100mm tall, move the mulch back to cover exposed soil. 
  • Provide support so the beans don't get blown over in high wind.
  • Spray the Broad Bean's foliage with aerated compost tea every 4 weeks at the same time as all the other edible plants. 
  • To control height and reduce wind damage, it's worth nipping off the growth points when the beans are 1200mm high.  This will boost the size of the remaining beans, and provide you with delicious growth tips which can be steamed with a little seasoning and some herbs. 
Harvesting and storage
  • Harvest the beans in October.
  • Pick them very young if you like to cook them in their pods.  
  • Leave some to fully mature and remove the pods before you cook them.  
  • I freeze a few bags of mature beans every year - blanched with pods removed and stored in the freezer.  
  • When I defrost them for cooking, I remove the tough outer skin and steam the beans with a little salt, pepper and mixed herbs.
  • Mostly I use them in mixed garden vegetable soups.  They are cooked podded but not pealed.  The soup may need straining after processing with a stick blender if the bean's outer skins are very tough.  They add taste, nutrients and texture to a creamed vegetable soup.
Organic Pest Control.
    • Use a 4 year crop rotation  to deprive the rust fungal spores of a host.  By moving the legume family to a new bed each year the fungi gradually lose their potency.
    • An Ecobed's moist soil creates conditions favourable to the suppression of rust disease.
    • If an infestation occurs remove any infected leaves and dispose of them in the garbage.  Spray the plants foliage with an organic horticulural oil (Eco-oil in Australia) before the fungi spreads to the whole plant.
  • Powdery Mildew.
    • In the event of an infestation spray the plants foliage with a solution of 1 part cows milk to 9 parts water.  It makes a reasonably effective organic pesticide against powdery mildew.  However, it needs to be applied early before the fungi gets well established, and frequently to keep the mildew in check.
    • If all else fails use a foliar spray of organic horticultural oil (Eco-oil in Australia) to kill the fungus.
  • General.
    • Repeated foliar sprays of aerated compost tea will deter most airborne pests and diseases.
    • Proper soil preparation and regular applications of home made compost help control soil borne pests.