Why Pinch Out Broadbean Tips?

broadbean tips

Yesterday, I ran along my Broadbean row, and like a good girl, I pinched out the tips from each plant. I was pleased with the results until I realised that I didn’t actually know why I’d just done it. I had some vague recollection of reading it somewhere in a book and that it had something to do with blackfly.

So I looked it up. Apparently, the main reason why you should nip out the tips is that it redirects the plant’s energy into setting fruit, rather than growing taller. So you should only nip out the tips once three or four trusses of flowers have appeared.

Secondly, nipping out the tips takes away the part of the plant that is most susceptible to blackfly attack and therefore discourages a future attack. If you already have blackfly then you’ll be removing most of them as you nip. So, everyone’s a winner, as they say.

Lastly, you can cook the tips (providing they are not infested with blackfly, of course). Wash and simmer for 2-3 minutes. Then treat like Spinach or Greens. I might try some.

So now I know why I’m pinching out the tips of my broadbeans I can be reassured that I’m doing the right thing. Yes…it’s much better to have all of the information, all of the time.

17 Comments on “Why Pinch Out Broadbean Tips?

  1. Thank you! I have some pinching to do!! (beans AND tomatos too for that matter:)

  2. Your bean tips are beautiful. Mine were so full of black fly that they went straight into the compost. Hope yours tasted nice!

  3. Hugh F-W had some recipes with pea and bean tips in them the other weekend, but you needed about 350g of them for one meal! Now that would take some a fair sized veg patch and some growing!

  4. The “Broad Windsor” that I am currently growing are the first broad beans that I’ve ever even seen. No one here grows them.

    I’m just now getting beans about 4 inches long. How big should they be when you pick them?

    Other than eating the tips what is a good, simple way to prepare them?

  5. I am growing broad beans for the first time. I pinched out the tops when they were about 12cm tall and of course they bushed up with side shoots. Do I need to pinch out every side shoot as they grow aswell or is it just the first shoot that is yummy enough to attract the blackfly? Have not seeen any sinister visitors on them yet.

  6. Hi Caz,

    So long as the sideshoot has flowers on it then it’s worth nipping out the tips to help the fruit set. I have read that some people cut off the sideshoots all together to direct more energy into the main stem. I’m too greedy to do that. I want all the beans that the plant can muster.

  7. Hi David,

    I would wait until your pods are around 6 inches long, firm and crisp. Twist to harvest and choose a dry day.

    As for cooking – well the first harvest I always eat by themselves, hot with a bit of butter. Just because I don’t want anything else getting in the way of the flavour. But later on my favourite thing to make is Broadbean risotto and Potato Salad with Broadbeans. Recipe here: http://www.mytinyplot.co.uk/?p=200

    Once you’ve podded them you will notice that Broadbean have two layers. The outer, more light green ‘jacket’ and the inner bright green tender part. If they are small and fresh enough you can leave the ‘jacket’ on and just cook them. If they have been left on the plant a bit too long or are bigger then it’s best to remove the ‘jacket’ before cooking. Remember those chewy Broadbeans in school dinners? No thanks :)

  8. another benefit in pinching out the tips is the glorious smell they give off. I know you can’t eat it but it is heavenly.


  9. “I would wait until your pods are around 6 inches long, firm and crisp. Twist to harvest and choose a dry day.

    As for cooking …”

    That is extremely helpful. Thank you. Your potato salad looks wonderful. I might even be able to steal a few new potatoes (from my own plants) in a few days while I still have broad beans.

  10. I knew that. I just kept putting it off because the tops look pretty (yes I know how stupid that sounds and yes I should know better). Today I have paid the price as my broad beans have greenfly. Ggrrrrrrrrr. So now I’ve pinched them out although stable doors and bolting horses spring to mind. Moral of story? Do what mtp says. She’s right.

  11. Hi all,

    Had tips with Sunday roast chicken last night. The tips are one of those veg growers special treats like pea shoots used to be before they became trendy.
    Don’t worry about specific amounts for specific recipes simply boil them for a couple of minutes and treat like any side vegetable – lovely taste -twixt broad beans and sparrow grass

  12. Pinching out the tips really helps lot but I find that you have to keep doing it as the side shoots appear. I planted around 30 broad bean plants this year and I have pulled up 6 as the blackfly has infested some of the stems so badly. You have to be ruthless and pinch them out early on and then keep a firm eye on them for the duration of growth. Blackfly is horrendous!

  13. Pingback: Start of the Summer Harvest « The Things We Make

  14. Loved your page! Have had a small vegy garden (4m x2m) producing well through our last Summer.(there is just my Wife and I) put in two rows Broad Beans April last,they are now a metre high and today cut the tips from one row. We’re having for Tea this evening, if they meet expectations will cut the rest later in week. Thanks for cooking tips.