Saturday, 27 February 2016

Broad Beans

Broad bean seed is one of the easiest to save and re-sow although they're very fond of self seeding as well. I've just spent half an hour shelling some of the pods which had dried off on our plants at the end of summer.  Broad beans (also known as java beans in some countries) are best sown in the Autumn or Spring so we'll plant some of these seeds again in March and April.

Broad beans are very hardy and easy to grow. They're also prolific.  The more you pick them the more they seem to produce and you can serve them young and sliced like green beans or you can pod them and take out the bean itself as they get larger.  Normally the smaller the bean is the sweeter and more tender it is.  If they get too big they often have an unpleasant "silvery" taste.

I like to grow an old favourite, Exhibition Long Pod.  They usually grow around 1.5 metres tall but mine often get quite a bit taller.  In theory you're supposed to give them support and stake them but I rarely do.  I find that if they're planted in a block they tend to hold each other up.  My father likes to give them some support with wooden stakes and twine.  They like full sun but seem to be just as happy in partial shade.

The beans are usually ready to eat about 4 months after planting.  They are a very reliable crop which is a mainstay in our garden.  

The dried pods ready to have the next bean seeds removed:

The new seeds:

Blanched, podded, larger beans being prepared for the freezer. 
Some freshly podded broad bean seeds drying off on a table in the sun for the day in the garden.
In the garden:

A late patch of broad beans are getting straggly now under the old oak tree:

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