Broad beans are actually one of the oldest vegetables grown by humans dating back to 6,500 BC, however up until recently broad beans were not grown as a vegetable but as a cattle food. Luckily that is no more, broad beans are such a fantastic tasting vegetable yet they are so incredibly easy to grow.
The seeds are large, they germinate fast, no special care or attention is required, they’re quickly ready for harvesting and as I said a very easy vegetable to grow.
You should dig the spot where you plan to grow broad beans incorporating well rotted manure or compost while digging. The spot should be in a sunny location in soil that is free draining.
They will grow well in most soil types but for a larger crop better conditions are required.
Sowing and Planting
You can sow broad bean seeds in autumn, however, with the unpredictable British weather it is becoming much harder to get a successful crop from autumn sown broad beans. Sowings in early winter provide a much better crop.
Sowings can begin in February, you can sow seeds under cloches at this point, this will provide an extremely early crop, often before the autumn sown seeds. Main sowings should be planted in March and April.
Sow seeds 8 inches apart in rows that are twelve inches apart. You may wish to sow some extra seeds in a seedbed or containers indoors to fill the gaps where the seeds do not germinate successfully.
Looking After the Plants
Support for the plants will be necessary as broad beans can grow quite tall. A wood and string framework works well to support the plants.
The area around the beans should be kept weed free at all times, there is nothing as bad as a garden full of weeds! Once the first of the broad beans begin to show you should pinch out the growing tip, this will help control blackfly and make sure you have an early harvest.
You can begin picking broad beans while they are still small. Try picking broad beans while they are just three inches long, cooking and eating them whole. They taste delicious like that.
If you want to allow your beans to grow to maturity you should leave them until you can feel the beans inside the pod however, leave them too long and they will become hard and inedible.