How to Grow Broad Beans
Broad beans are easy to grow from seed. You will need a good number of plants for a decent crop. Broad beans are a large seed, easy to handle and to germinate.
Broad beans are the hardiest of the bean family to grow, quick to germinate, in about 5-7 days of sowing, and they put on rapid growth producing a crop around June /July depending on the growing conditions.
Broad Beans have long roots and need to be planted in a deep root run. They can be germinated into toilet roll holders in which they will grow well until ready for planting out. The main tip, when growing Broad Beans in toilet roll holders, is to take care when watering and avoid soaking the cardboard.
spring sown beans should be germinated from late February onwards. Fill suitable containers with compost, damp it and press down gently to ensure there are no air pockets and then place a bean seed about 7 cms down the container, sprinkle with a little compost and cover. Put in a warm place and germination should occur after a few days. Broad beans can be planted out in March/April and also sown direct into the veg plot. When growing Broad Beans in the veg plot or planting out note they will need some protection from severe weather. Plant in double rows 30 cms apart, shallow about 7 cms deep, plant every 15cms.
Briad beans will need support as they will fall over. The best way to do this is to grow the Broad Beans into a corridor to keep them upright using string and bamboo cane supports.
In addition to preparing the ground, adding good organic matter, you need to set up means of keeping the beans upright. Broad beans will not grow up canes and instead it's best to create a run using canes and string.
Beans need very little else other than appropriate support. They can suffer from black fly which cluster on the tips and new growth . it is recommended to pinch out the top grow to try and prevent it because the young tips are the bits the black fly are drawn to.
When growing broad beans bear in mind
they grow to a height of around 1.5 metres and which means the support will need several layers of string. Broad beans have a tendency to splay out wards and so need regularly to be pushed back in within the string supports. As soon as the pods swell and you can feel the beans inside they are ready to pick.
When growing Broad Beans if conditions are wet, there can be problem with rust (small brown patches on the leaves) and chocolate spot ( spreading brown patches) may occur. Rust is not too much of a worry remove the leaves and battle on . Chocolate spot is a problem as it can spread across the plants as quickly as you try to remove the leaves. It's a relative of Botrytis ( a type of mould ) and chocolate spot only affects Broad beans. As it is related to mould damp will encourage it so when planting and growing Broad Beans space them out more generously to allow greater air flow. Broad beans will need watering in dry weather.
How to get a second crop of broad beans
Broad beans are vigorous plants and it is always worth trying to get a second crop which can be harvested during late August, September especially if the late summer and early autumn is warm with some good sunshine . In July cut down the plants from which you have harvested the beans, and those whose foliage is looking tired, shortening it to around 20 cms. Within a short time the plants will throw out new shoots, and if it's a reasonable summer, new flowers will appear and in due course produce a second crop, less vigorous, but still worth picking.
After harvesting cut plants down to ground level using the tops for compost, and leave the roots in for their nitrogen content.
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