When grown over winter, broad beans are a useful early spring crop. Not everyone knows that broad beans taste best when they have been shelled twice.
Broad beans are a fantastic winter crop. They produce edible beans (if you're not a fan of broad beans, home grown ones taste better and they also taste much better if you double shell them (many people only shell them once) you can also eat young ones pods and all just like you would snow peas) as well as edible shoots (pluck off the growing tips and eat in stir fries etc. this will also prolong flowering and fruiting so can help you stagger your crop). They associate with nitrogen fixing bacteria so improve soil nitrogen levels and they also help stop nutrients from leaching from the soil. If planted before a potato crop, they also help prevent potato pests. They can get quite tall so need some support to prevent them falling over and breaking. If you want to grow them over winter, plant the seeds directly where you'd like to grow them in autumn/fall. Plant the seeds in moist soil and don't water until you see some sprouts. If you live in a tropical area, plant seeds in the dry season.
Growing Broad Beans
Sow seeds directly in their final growing position.
- Midsummer in sub arctic areas
- Late spring - early summer in areas with cold winters
- Late winter - early spring and autumn in areas with cool winters
- Mid autumn - mid winter in temperate areas
- Mid autumn - early winter in warm arid, subtropical and temperate areas
- Mid winter too in subtropical areas
Harvesting Broad Beans
Broad beans are ready to harvest between 18 and 20 weeks after germination.
Using Broad Beans
Broad beans are usually boiled, pickled or added to soups and casseroles. If you are boiling them and only remove them from their pods (ie. don't also remove their skins) don't add salt to the water as it can make their skins tough. The leafy tops of broad bean plants are also edible and are best steamed.
Broad Bean Nutrition
Broad beans are very high in protein and contain useful amounts of betacarotene, which is converted in the body to vitamin A, vitamins C and B as well as the minerals potassium, calcium, iron, copper and manganese. This vegetable is also fibre rich.
Storing Broad Beans
- In a cool, airy place out of direct sunlight
- Broad beans quickly go black and slimy if refrigerated