Spring in the Garden

Spring in the Garden

Thursday, 8 January 2009

Sowing broad beans

I love broad beans, but haven't met many people who do. I think this could be because most people have only come across rather dry and floury broad beans, which they bought in a shop. It may make commercial sense to pick your broad beans when they are bigger so you can make more money when you sell them, but it does nothing for the taste and texture. If you want beautiful, tender and succulent broad beans you have to grow them yourself.

Broad beans can be planted from November to May. If you plant them in the Autumn it is best to plant them when the soil is still warm. In milder regions this is the best time to plant in order to avoid black fly infestations, which can damage crops and looks unsightly. If the plants start to come through during very cold, frosty weather you might need to cover them with a cloche, but don't leave it on when the weather warms up or the plants will not become hardy and will also be more susceptible to black fly.

If you sow the seeds between November and January you need to use seed suitable for that time of year such as Aqua Dulce. 'The Sutton' is a dwarf variety suited to small gardens.

I prefer to sow my broad beans early in the season, but wasn't able to do so this November. In fact it was the 27th December before I was able to. This coincided with the new moon, which the ancients and even farmers a few centuries ago thought was a good time for planting and sowing. We shall see if this makes a difference.

The bed I'm using for legumes this year was used to grow root vegetables last year, so it had already been dug quite well. Hubby spread compost from one of our compost bins on it early in the Autumn, so I just raked it over, removing any major weeds I spotted and raking in the compost. I was then ready to make my first drill with my trowel.

I then put my bean seed in 2 inches deep and about 5 inches apart.

 I used the trowel as a guide.

I repeated the process, making a second row and put some canes in at each end of the row. You'll notice both the canes on the right have bird feeders on top. One fell off shortly after and the second had been knocked off the next day, presumably by an over heavy bird trying to perch on it. Perhaps they should not have been left out in the Winter.

I then raked it all over and trod on the soil lightly to firm it.

Now I'm looking forward to juicy broad beans in June.

Towards the end of the process I noticed I had company.

More detailed info on broad beans can be found here.


1 comment:

  1. Really jealous of your lovely big garden! I'm keen to follow how as a gardener you get on with the chickens. My wife Sarah has been the main (well only) gardener so far and whilst she instigated the chicken aquisition she's been shocked by how keen they are to eat everything green in the garden - mainly Sarah's prized spinach.


I look forward to reading your comments, it's always good to hear encouraging words or relevant hints and tips.