I brought in a lovely crop of Broadbeans today. The pods were just starting to get knobbly and the plants were getting heavy enough to start falling over. There was a touch of brown spot on them too but not too much black fly.
Broadbeans aren’t a very economical crop, space wise. The plants get rather tall, need support and take up quite a lot of room in my small garden. They go in quite early but take a while to get going and are not the first thing to be harvested. It’s already the end of July and so they’ve taken up the ground for close to five months.
Are they worth it? Yes, I think they are. I love the fresh, green taste and you just can’t buy them in the shops. Farmers markets maybe but you’ve no idea how old they are and they never taste quite like your own ‘just picked’. But for me the part Broadbeans play in my garden is this – they get me excited about the coming season. When I first sow them and see their big, waxy green leaves pushing through I know that Spring is on it’s way. They are the ones that keep me going through the tough late Winter. And for that I will give them space every year.
ps. Here’s a little post on how to shell Broadbeans
Beautiful broad beans. They look so plump!
My broadbeans will not be ready for harvesting for a while yet – but then it is still winter here. Yes, broadbeans are a winter/early spring crop in Perth, Western Australia – and the five months or so to mature and crop is still a great use of space.
I find supporting the plants is quite easy, even in windy Perth (as I write this, I look out of the window at heavy rain lashing across the park over the road) with just a light stake at the corners of the planting and an additional one every metre or so of row and one string line looped round every stake, which I move up when the plants get tall enough to be in any danger of bending over it – no need to untie it, just pull the string towards the stake from both sides and it slides up easily.
My winter/spring crops are largely broadbeans, potatoes, carrots, lettuce and spinach (for salad greens) – all in about 25 square metres plus a few large pots.
The garden is a lot larger than that, but the rest is either native plants (need no watering once established – Perth is a very dry place for at least 6 months of the year) or fruit trees – believe it or not, we have four citrus trees (lemon, orange and two grapefruit – one a ruby), two plum trees, one apricot and two dwarf apple trees in pots. Oh, and I almost forgot the three plantains (a type of banana), although these are a bit of an indulgence as they produce only one hand of fruit then you have to wait for regrowth from suckers at the base. They beat conventional bananas for tast and texture, though.
The potatoes this year are in a new raised bed in what was previously a difficult-to-use are of the garden close to a garden wall – raising it by about 400mm has increased the extent to which plants get the winter sun. So far they are doing really well – I just hope they are as good below ground where it really matters.
What a fantastic harvest! Our beans don’t seem to have done very well this year. I think it was a mixture of all that rain and strong winds in June/July.
I have just picked the last of my broad beans here in Brittany. There was a brilliant crop this year, the best ever, and I have eaten about half of them fresh and I have frozen the other half. I did shell some of them to make a broad bean hummus but otherwise find them fine with butter and black pepper. Years ago I had a Polish friend who ate them whole – like mangetouts – pod and all when picked very young – I’ve never tried it and probably won’t!
This crop gives brilliant harvests so definitely a must for my second growing season. What recipe do you use for yours?
I’m interested that you advocate peeling the beans out of their inner skins; I’ve always thought this was only really necessary if using really large, older broad beans. Or if cooking in a michelin star kitchen!
We’ve loved our broad beans this summer. We planted them last autumn, they braved temperatures of -10c over the winter and have cropped quite well. The flavour is amazing over supermarket offerings.
my broad beans have been a complete disaster this year but I am harvesting runner beans whle other growers are not, so swings and roundabouts spring to mind!
Hi, I’ve just been reading your blog and have to say I have really been enjoying it.
Your broad beans look lovely and I have to agree that they are worth every bit of effort to grow them
One thing you didn’t mention though is they are great for fixing nitrogen in the soil ready for the next crop, so what more could we ask of a plant.
I love this plant and have lots in various parts of my shady back yard. I deal with the disappearing foliage by deploying annuals, containers, and ferns. This is a great one for seeding itself randomly around your yard.