HOW TO GROW AUTUMN SOWINGS OF BROAD BEANS
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Broad beans - or fava beans as they are known across the pond - are an ancient food crop that dates as far back as 6000 years BC. Still popular today, broad beans are one of the few vegetable plants that can be sown late in the year for winter production. This timing is important as it will ensure a late spring/early summer harvest when there is little other home-grown fresh produce around.
Sow broad bean seeds any time from early autumn to late winter. Choose an open sunny site preferably on ground which has been well dug and manured – preferably a couple of months previous. Although broad beans prefer a deep, free draining soil they are in fact tolerant of most soil types so long as they are not water-logged. A week or so before sowing you can add a nitrogen feed to the soil. Although Broad Beans have nitrogen fixing bacteria in little nodules along the roots, they will not be functioning properly until the plants begin to grow strongly. This extra nitrogen feed at the beginning of their growth cycle will help get them off to a good start.
Soak your seeds in water for an hour or so before sowing in double rows, 2 inches deep, with each individual row 9 inches apart from each other. Should you require further sets of double rows then leave a distance of between 18-24 inches before you start your next line. Although broad beans tend not to grow to much more than 4ft high – depending on the variety - they can still suffer with stems breaking or falling over with the weight of the beans, and are especially at risk in strong winds. If you secure stakes on the outside of each rows and run wire or strong string along them, this will support the crop as it matures. Should you wish to, you can cover your crop with horticultural fleece to help to keep off the worst of the weather.
Hoe between the rows regularly to keep down the weeds but use a hand tool close to the plants to prevent accidental breakage of the fragile bean stems. Cut off the tops of the plants as soon as four clusters of bloom are showing. Harvest the beans when the pods are well filled and the seed still soft.
For more information click onto:
Growing Kidney Beans
How to Grow Broad Beans from Seed
How to Grow the Autumn Broad Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'
How to Grow the Autumn Fava Bean 'Aquadulce Claudia'
How to Grow Sweet Potatoes in Pots or Containers