Broad beans are in season at the moment. This post is on how to grow and harvest broad bean. Broad bean also is known as fava beans (scientific name vicia faba) can be harvested as early as May. In some countries, it’s the first sign of spring crop. It’s eaten in most countries from the Mediterranean, Europe, the Middle East to Asia.
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In some countries, it’s eaten as a festive dish. It’s cook in many ways, can be eaten raw and from dried forms as well. Young leaves or tops can be eaten like spinach.
Broad bean seeds for growing are sold in many plant or garden centres. Here is my link to an online retailer for ‘the sutton’ variety which is compact and great for a small garden. Other varieties ‘Jubilee Hysor’ produces tremendous yield.
How to grow and harvest broad bean
Broad beans are easy to grow the bean. The beans can be sown from bean around February or November when the soil temperature is still warm. If it’s grown over the winter it needs to be protected from frost or seed rot. Personally, I have sown them in November before winter starts to set in. Being in London there was not much need for frost protection once they are established on the ground. Come to the first sign of warm weather it starts growing rapidly. It is possible to sow them on the ground however the beans are prone to rot if the soil is too damp.
For sowing in February sow them indoors or greenhouse and plant out the seedlings once the risk of frost has passed. Sow them 5cm deep and at least 15cm apart.
Grow them in a good drain soil with some manure compost. The plant itself are also high in natural nitrogen, therefore, they make great compost.
Protecting broad beans
Some gardeners recommend removing the tops once the second branch appears so as the increase more yield. This can also help to reduce aphids infestation. Plus it also helps to prevent black fly infestation. Mice and squirrels love to eat young seedlings as there is still bean residual in them. Do protect them if it’s a problem.
Once established they grow easily. However, they are prone to black fly an aphid lots of them. Too much of this infestation can affect growth. Some gardeners recommend using diluted soapy water to get rid of them. It needs monitoring regularly to check its effect.
There are other problems growing broad beans as well like chocolate spot and broad bean rust.
Broad beans can be harvested young or old. The young pods can be eaten when they are young in the early season. Left alone for the pods to mature the beans they can be left to dry.