Wednesday , November 22 2017
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Broad Beans

broad-bean-seedling image broad-bean-plant image

Broad beans are rigid, erect plants that can reach up to 1.5 m tall. As the plants can reach over one meter, they are inclined to topple over, particularly when laden with a heavy crop of developing pods. It might be necessary to offer them some support. When the plants reach about 1m, pinch out the tops of the stems because broad beans are very prone to attack by aphids, which feed on the growing tips. Removing these should lessen the severity of any infestation. As the plants are growing pinch out any side shoots which appear near the base of the plant.

The ideal site for Broad beans is a place in full sun with shelter from strong winds but reasonably airy. It is a fast grower and needs good light and plenty of air in the soil to grow well. Broad beans are very tolerant of the soil they grow in, but will not stand being water-logged. They will prefer a deep free draining soil, so they are best grown in raised beds.

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Water approximately every other day dependant on temperature because Broad beans will not withstand drought, so if conditions become dry they will need watering. Keep the raised bed as weed free as possible. Weeding frequently will keep water loss to a minimum as will applying a mulch of well-rotted compost.

Broad beans are very frost hardy and will germinate in a soil temperature as low as 2 Celsius degrees (35 F). Sow in mid spring or if your soil is free draining you can sow in early autumn when the weather is cooling down, or in mild area you can start sowing from mid winter. This will give a crop about three weeks earlier than the spring sowing.

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Broad beans are best harvested when young and tender. When the pods start to swell, sample one to see if it’s ready for harvest. Simply twist and pull off the pods. Broad beans freeze well. The tips of the shoots can be used in the same way as spinach. If some pods remain unpicked, they can be allowed to mature and dry and saved for seed the following year.

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