Broad Bean

Family: Fabaceae

Countries: Afghanistan, Asia, Iran, Mediterranean, Middle East

Broad beans (also known by their botanical name of Vicia faba) are wonderfully easy to grow beans that tastes delicious.  If you haven’t grown them before, you might think of yourself as someone who doesn’t like broad beans, but stay with me – it’s still worth growing this fabulous vegetable.  That sounds mad, I know, but so far, I have converted every single friend who had previously thought they disliked broad beans.  Home-grown broad beans are a true delicacy, their taste and texture is a million miles away from shop bought beans.  If the worst happens, and you really don’t enjoy your home-grown broad beans, (if this happens, I am truly sorry!) I am certain that you’ll find many friends, neighbours, or relations, who would be so grateful for the chance to try your home-grown beans.  Plus, you will have grown a handsome plant that produces stunning flowers, which are very decorative and provide food for bees.

The seeds of broad beans are very large in size, making them easy to hold (and easier to find if you’re clumsy like me and drop them!).  Broad beans are an ideal choice of vegetable to grow with children; they’re also an easier seed to sow for anyone who gets frustrated and finds handling small seeds rather fiddly.  These larger sized seeds are so much easier for arthritic hands to handle.

If you sow broad bean seed in containers, choose a dwarf broad bean cultivar, like broad bean ‘Robin Hood’.  In Southern areas of the UK, broad bean seeds can be successfully sown in containers in February, March, April, and May.  If you are sowing seed directly in the soil or gardening in cooler areas of the country, sow your broad bean seed outside during March, April, and May.

Broad beans can also be sown in October and November; the young bean plants that arise from these later sowings are overwintered for harvesting the following spring.  Although, I must say that the over wintering method doesn’t have anywhere near as high a success rate as is achieved by spring sown plants; greater chances of success is achieved by gardeners in warmer regions.  If you decide to experiment with an October sowing of broad beans, I’d advise you to keep a stock of broad bean seed for an additional spring sowing; this will also provide you with a later harvest.  Good luck!

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