Broad beans are one of the best vegetables to grow if you are new to gardening. They are extremely easy to grow and don’t require a lot of care. You can easily reap fresh, succulent and tender broad beans from May onward by growing this amazing crop.
The common bean, also known as the broad bean, fava bean, or faba bean, is a plant in the pea and bean family Fabaceae.
It is grown widely as a crop for human consumption and as a cover crop.
The best part about growing broad beans is that you can grow them even in small spaces as dwarf varieties.
You may have several questions like how to grow broad beans, ways to harvest, and the problems that you may face while growing them.
So, here we have answered all of your questions so that you can get going with your gardening regime with broad beans.
Table of Contents
Top broad beans varieties to grow
In this guide on how to grow broad beans, it is definitely worth mentioning some of the best varieties that you must grow in your garden. So, here are our top five picks for broad beans varieties that you should grow in you garden and harvest sweet and tender young pods of broad beans.
1.Masterpiece Green Longpod (Our Favorite)
It is the best variety of green seeded broad beans. These plants produce very long pods. Each of these pods may contain around six to seven beans. The plants of this variety can grow up to 90 centimers and spread up to 45 centimeters, letting you reap a generous amount of beans.
This is a great variety for overwintering broad beans. These broad bean plants produce well filled pods and tender beans that taste delicious. The best time to eat these broad beans is when they are young. It is a good early cropping variety of broad beans that produce beans as early as May.
It is a dwarf variety of broad beans and the plants grow only up to a height of 45 centimeters. This is why it is an ideal choice if you are planning to grow the broad beans in containers. In addition, it is a perfect variety if you live in a windy region. These plants mature early so you can pick the pods earlier.
Aquadulce Claudia is an excellent variety of broad beans and ideal for autumn sowing. It is also an overwintering variety and the plants produce long pods. The pods are also expected to mature faster in this variety of broad beans.
5. Witkiem Manita
Witkiem Manita is great for spring sowing as well as autumn sowing. It is an early maturing variety of broad beans and your backup plan if you have missed growing November varieties of broad beans. The plants grow fast and produce very long and well-filled pods that further produce beans in large numbers.
How to plant broad beans?
Broad beans are grown through broad bean seeds in early spring or late winters. In mild regions, the season for sowing broad beans can also begin from late autumn. The exact time for sowing broad bean seeds depends upon the variety of seed that you have picked up. In addition to this, each of these varieties have their own flower color, size of the pods, and bean sizes. So, it is good to choose a variety after considering your requirements.
You can also grow different varieties in patches to find the best match for you and your family. In case you are confused as to which variety you should buy, you can sow broad beans seeds awarded with RHS award for Garden Merit. It signifies that the broad beans varieties passed the quality test and hence, are a safe choice of broad beans plants to grow in your garden.
Sowing the broad bean seeds
Broad bean seeds can be sown both indoors and outdoors. When growing indoors, the seeds must be sown in covered pots starting from February. This ensures that the seeds germinate and start growing by the spring season. Indoor growing methods are very helpful if you have clayey soil in your garden. You can start by filling small sized pots with compost, and sowing the seeds 5 centimeters deep in the compost. Place the pots in the presence of sunlight and keep watering them at regular intervals. After a few weeks, you should be able to notice young broad bean plants coming out of the soil.
If you choose to grow your broad bean seeds outdoors, it is best to start with a sunny and sheltered spot having soil with a good drainage system. The outdoor growing season for broad beans begins around March and may extend up to early May.
If you are residing in the milder regions of the United Kingdom. Start with removing the weed plants from the soil and sowing seeds up to 5 to 7 centimeters deep in the soil. The distance between adjacent rows of seeds must be 15 to 23 centimeters. You can sow the seeds in single rows as well as double rows. It is done to make sure that the plants get enough space and nutrition to grow well. When you are making raised beds, you can sow seeds in the adjacent rows with a spacing of 23 centimeters. You can also sow some extra seeds at the corners of the rows so that you can fill up spaces in the rows later with these plants.
Maintaining the young plants
If rainfall is low in your region, you must soak the young plants well in water, right from the time of flowering and then after two weeks. In case, the soil in your garden is loose and drains well, you must water the broad bean plants regularly, whenever you see the soil drying up. In addition to this, you must pay more attention to watering the broad bean plants if you had sown dwarf variety of the broad bean seeds.
If you have grown taller varieties, it is good to support the growing broad bean plant with sticks, especially if you have sown the seeds in single rows. The plants in double rows can support each other. Insert the sticks at the corners of the rows and tie a string around the stakes.
When you see small pods forming in the lowest level of the broad beans plants, pinch the tips of the shoots. This is done to encourage fruiting of the plants and also to avoid problems of blackfly. Most importantly, you must look out for weeds sprouting among the broad bean plants and remove them as soon as they appear.
How to harvest broad beans?
The season for harvesting broad beans can begin from late spring and may extend up to mid-summers, depending upon the time of sowing the seeds and the variety of broad bean seeds you had chosen.
You can start harvesting the young pods of tender beans when they are only 7.5 centimeters long. Such pods can be cooked whole. If you are picking pods for extracting beans from them, wait for the pods to grow more so that the beans are visible outside. The beans should appear to be white or greenish but do not let them turn black. Keep picking the pods regularly as it encourages the plant to flower more and produce further pods.
Common problems that may occur while growing broad beans
Like all other crops, broad bean plants are also prone to developing certain diseases that may affect the production of beans. In addition, sometimes the broad bean plants may get attacked by pests and rodents. So, here are some common problems that you may face while growing broad beans and the remedies that you can use to combat the problems.
Pests and Insects
Aphids and weevils are insects that may affect the leaves of the broad bean plants, causing the growth of the plant to become stunted. To avoid these pests and insects from attacking the broad bean plants in your garden, you should pinch the tips of the infected plants and catch the insects when their populations are low. You can also cover the plants with fleece. Doing so will not only keep the bean weevils away, but also boosts the growth of the plants.
Rodents like mice can eat the seeds when you sow them. In such cases, the best way to avoid rodents in your garden is trapping. Break back traps are greatly effective in keeping tye rodents away from your garden. All you need to do is place a piece of carrot or dessert apple as bait in your trap and place it at the affected places in your garden. Make sure that you set these traps at the right places to prevent other animals interfering with it.
Diseases like Chocolate Spot can occur in plants growing in intense winters, damp and humid weather. It is a fungal disease that affects the plants and leads to leaves developing brown spots. To prevent this condition, make sure that you space your plants well and there is enough flow of air around the plants.