How to Grow Broad
Varieties, Soil Conditions, Harvest, Yields
Windsor beans as they are also known,
not generally grown on a large scale, but they
have great value in an intensive rotation as both a legume as well as a
winter cash crop.
These beans producing in late winter and springtime are a very popular
and under-rated vegetable and a useful crop because they can be grown
at a time when few other crops are bearing. Eaten whole as young pods,
before the seed
develops, they almost reach gourmet status. The market generally
demands the more mature and longer beans. Care must be taken to harvest
them before the pods become over-mature as the quality rapidly
Growing broad beans for a cover
crop is one of the finest as
they are excellent nitrogen
The broad bean is also known as other names around the world such as
the fava bean, field bean, bell
bean or tic bean.
The broad bean
falls into 3
long pod beans have about 8 beans in each
short pod beans have 3-5 beans, and the dwarf
varieties have 2-3 beans.
How to Grow Broad Beans
and Broad Bean Varieties
those of you who have limited space in your
vegetable gardens you may think about planting dwarf broad
beans as they produce clusters of pods on small bushes
grow very high. The
Sutton is an
excellent dwarf broad bean that grows to
about 30 cm, matures early and has white seeds in the pods.
One of my favorite broad bean varieties is the Aquadulce Claudia,
is a long pod which has a sweet, nutty flavor and is an early cropper.
The pods of this plant tend to grow away from the plant at an upward
Another favorite is the Long pod or Leviathan
which has pods
growing to 20 - 25 cm in length, and bushes that grow to up to 1.5
meters high. A good variety for colder climes as it is
resistant to frosts and is a prolific bearer. These pods are pendulous.
However, there are other varieties which are just as popular such as
other dwarf varieties such as Midget
and Coles Dwarf,
and Long pods
Short pods such as the Egyptian
How to Grow Broad Beans,
Climate and When to Plant
Your broad bean crop
will be seriously reduced if you plant your beans
early. They will grow well in cold weather, but the flowers
will not set beans until the frosty conditions have finished in late
you can sow broad beans in
fall and winter.
A fall sowing prevents black fly
live in a colder climate, sow your beans
in early spring after the frosts have gone. Do not attempt to grow
broad beans in tropical or hot climates as the flowers will not set.
They prefer a cool, moderate climate.
How to Grow Broad Beans
and Crop Rotation
The broad bean can
follow most crops. Potatoes which have been
manured would be a suitable crop to follow. The pH of course would have
to be closely monitored as legumes require a pH of about 6.5 - 7.00 to
ensure maximum nitrogen fixation as well as good supplies of calcium
Brassica crops are also a good choice to follow broad beans.
Alternatively, a green manure crop could be sown to use the nitrogen
made available by the broad bean roots. The procedure would be to mulch
down or incorporate the bean stalks into the top few centimeters of the
soil. Leave for a fortnight, cultivate again, and sow the
green manure crop. This would in turn be incorporated into the soil in
readiness for the next crop.
Growing Broad Beans,
also known as Fava
How to Grow Broad Beans
and Soil Preparation
Growing broad beans can
be done in a range of soil types, but they do
best in a reasonably heavy, but well drained soil. They also enujoy a
soil which has been manured for the previous crop and treated with
dolomite a month or so before planting. However, avoide excessive
manuring because high nitrogen in the soil levels leads to a poor set
of pods. Extreme variations of temperature can have a similar effect.
They are gross feeders and have extensive roots, so raised beds, high
in organic matter prepared as above, with good aeration would be ideal.
The addition of a
compost would be very worth while. Broad beans, need good
levels of calcium and magnesium to grow successfully,
will grow well in an acid soil as long as these nutrients are supplied.
This is why adding dolomite is so important to growing broad beans
Along with good drainage, the availability of potash is important in
helping to prevent
fungus that can attack your growing
broad beans. Potash may be added in the form of rock dust, seaweed meal
or ash from your fireplace as long as you burn untreated timber.
How to Grow Broad Beans
and Sowing Seeds
If you live in a windy
area then you will have to make sure that your
broad beans are sheltered as broad bean plants can easily be damaged by
wind. Also make sure that where you will plant your seeds broad beans
have not been planted there before in the last 3 years. This is beacuse
soil borne diseases will attack the roots.
Broad bean seeds should be placed 3
inches below the surface, in double
rows at a spacing of about 10
The double rows offer better support
for the plants in a fertile soil. They will also create a micro-climate
for your plants creating much needed humidity for
fruit-setting. The rows should be spaced about 3 feet apart
should be set out well to allow for maximum drainage.
Another way of planting broad beans is to plant 2 seeds in each hole.
That way, when the plants grow, they can support each other in windy
conditions, and you will also double your chances of germination.
However, if you live in a warmer climate, planting like this is not
advised as it compromises good airflow and could lead to fungal
Your seeds should start to germinate within 7 days. As soon as the
shoots appear keep the soil free from weeds and loosen it occasionally.
To provide extra support, you can build up the soil around the base of
Even before your crop has begun to emerge it would be still be prudent
to make sure
that you have hoed well around your rows to keep any competitive weeds
Because of the high nitrogen in the soil as a result of growing
your broad beans, - remember legumes put back nitrogen in the soil, so
you will find that weeds are your major problem to
How to Grow Broad Beans -
Pests and Diseases
Broad Bean Pests
When growing broad beans
organically they can also become
susceptible to pests and diseases. Grow
garlic and marigolds in between
the rows of beans keep pests at bay.
If you find your beans infected with blackfly
or bean weevil,
spray them with soapy water.
As the bean plants grow, especially the long pod variety you will need
stake your plants to protect them from being damaged by the wind.
Banking the soil around the stems of the plants also give added
protection. You can then run a single or double line of string,
depending on the growth, along each side of the double rows to give
support when the pods begin to fill and the plants become top-heavy.
Once a good number of
pods have appeared it is wise to remove the
growing tips from each plant to discourage aphids,
garden pests. By pinching out the tops you will also increase
the pod yield.
For extreme cases of black fly aphid you can spray with derris dust.
Broad Bean Diseases
Soil borne diseases area
a particular problem when growing broad beans,
and the best way of getting around this is making sure that you follow
a good crop rotation program.
As mentioned earlier 'chocolate-spot' fungus is a problem for
broad beans, especially if the plants are grown during prolonged wet
periods. Both the leaves and the stems can become infected. Chocolate
Spot can be minimized by improving the soil structure, thus
allowing better drainage to occur.
Rust can be
an issue with
plants that have been sown too late, and
which is a viral
disease, can also attack your plants. If your
plants have mosaic, the only treatment is for you to remove affected
plants and destroy to prevent it from spreading.
Your bean plant should be watered regularly, particularly during the
flowering and fruit-setting period.
Harvesting Broad Beans
When do you harvest
broad beans? Well, if broad beans are to be eaten
fresh they can be either picked when immature and the whole pod sliced
and steamed together with the tender green leaf tops, or they can be
picked later after the seed pods begin to swell.
time for harvesting broad beans is 3-4 months after sowing. Harvesting
should be done at least
twice a week and you should pick your beans from the bottom as these
are ready first.
If you keep harvesting your beans, you will prolong the harvesting
period. If you have had a good lot of bees in your vegetable garden
your yields will be good, as this is essential for a good crop.
However, an average yield
is about 3
1/2 - 4 1/2 tons per acre. If the
double rows mature well, the yields will be even higher. As the crop
declines rapidly, it is important to harvest quickly if you are going
to harvest mature pods.
When your crop has finished bearing, cut off the stems, add them to
heap and then dig the
roots back into the soil, to take advantage of the nitrogen-rich roots
that will enrich your soil. Or, you can dig the leaves and stalks
directly into the soil as a green manure.
If you have goats or cows the spent plants make excellent livestock
matter how you use them after the harvest is over it is best to cut the
stalks at ground level and leave the roots in the ground to rot where
the nodules will provide a rich nitrogen source.
Saving Seed from Broad
Your mature plants will
indicate that they are ready when the pods
begin to burst. However, if you leave your pods on the vines too long
they will be come over-mature, lose their sweetness and become starchy.
If you find that this is what has happened, don't dispair, instead use
it to your advantage. Leave the pods on the plants now until they have
fully ripened and then remove, dry and save the seed for next year's
Store the pods in a dark, dry place
until the following season. Using plain brown paper bags works well for
Lifestyles Tip: I find that if I put the beans in layers of ash
from the fireplace
I never have a problem with burrowing insects who might have found the
beans if they weren't stored in the ash.
Nutritious Value of Broad
beans are extremely nutritious, containing large amounts of
potassium and phosphorus, as well as vitamins, particularly
Vitamin A. In the green state the beans contain 9% protein and 18%
Here's a complete breakdown:
How to Grow Broad Beans
and Cooking Them
Your young, immature
beans can be eaten whole, including the pod. A
little like snow
peas where they can be eaten raw in salads, steamed, stir-fried or
boiled. As your beans mature they will need to have their tough seeds
peeled, but this is easier to do after they have been boiled.
However, another way is to do this by dropping the podded beans into
boiling water for a few minutes and then removing the skins. Now you
can boil them in a little salted water testing them regularly to see if
they are tender or not.
boiling broad beans, and then frying up a little chopped onion, garlic
and bacon together until golden brown. Stir through your boiled broad
beans and serve. You can also serve them with a little melted butter
and seasoning to taste.
Of course, you can also dry broad beans and then use them in soups and
stews during the winter. Again, rub off the skins of your winter dried
beans to make them more tender.
Here's a Broad Bean Salad
2 Cups broad beans (raw
1 Cup cucumber, diced
1 Cup carrot, diced
2 teaspoons chives, chopped
1/2 cup French dressing
Combine ingredients. Add pepper to taste. Serve.
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