How to Grow Broad Beans

Broad beans, like all beans are members of the legume family. The main difference is that if planted at the right time, they are frost tolerant and can withstand quite cold temperatures once established, where the other bean varieties would die. They can be transplanted, but perform much better if direct sown where they are intended to grow. They like a good, free draining soil and as they fix nitrogen in the soil, don't usually require any supplemental feeding. Once they become well established, at around 5ft tall, they will likely need some support to stop them blowing over in the wind. This year we experimented, growing them in pots. Although the overall plant height was less, the crop was still great.

Growing Conditions

 

Sow the broad bean seed direct where you want the plants to grow, in rows or blocks. Blocks will help the plants protect each other from wind, spacing the seeds at around 20 to 30cm apart. Water them in and leave. Like a lot of larger seeds, beans, corn and the like, they do not need to be watered again until the shoots emerge, unless the soil has obviously begun to dry out. Overwatering during germination can result in rotting of the seeds.

 

Position: Full Sun to partial shade, protected from strong winds.

 

Plant: Can be grown in pots or garden beds, although seedlings can be transplanted, they perform best when sown direct.

 

Frost Tolerant: No. Heat tolerant: Yes - but protect from extreme summer heat, pods should be picked before they become tough. Plants however, prefer a cooler climate.

 

Feeding: Broad beans like good free draining soil but do not usually need additional feeding, If you experience limited flowering, they can be side dressed with potash.

 

Plant group: Broad Bean are legumes and are grouped with others such as bush and climbing beans and peas.

 

Pests: Main pests are birds/slugs/snails. If you experience higher humidity levels, good plant spacing is essential to ensure air flow and help minimise a number of potential mould problems.

 

Harvesting: Mature pods are picked when the the beans inside swell to produce "bumps" in the pod. These are quite obvious as can be seen in the top photo. Cut the beans from the plant and split the pods to remove the beans before the pods become tough.

Here you can see the nitrogen nodes on the Broad Bean plant roots. Either cut the stalks off at ground level once finished, or dig these roots back into the soil to compost