Broadbeans: Which Ones to Sow and Which to Throw

I recently sowed some Broadbeans. While doing some research I found out a few things that I didn’t know before now. I learned last year that you should soak them overnight before sowing. Which I did.

However, once soaked, previously I would have thrown the lot in the ground. But now I know that some Broadbeans are good, and some, well, not so much. It’s all about looking very carefully at your seeds and finding those tell-tale signs that will tell you if should sow the seed or bin it.

Firstly, if your seed has a black line where the little dimple is (it’s called a hilium apparently) then bin it.

If the hilium looks more like this then sow it.

Lastly, if your seed looks like it has had some critter make it its home, then surely bin it. What’s left should be nice, viable seed that will give you a better chance of germination. Happy Broadbean sowing.

25 Comments on “Broadbeans: Which Ones to Sow and Which to Throw

  1. Great post! I didn’t know that about broadbeans as none of the books I’ve been reading seem to mention it. It’s a little late as I’ve already put mine in the ground so fingers crossed I’ve been lucky!

  2. well you live and learn
    really enjoying your blog and getting loads of interesting tips

  3. I’ve decided not to buy gardening mazazines any more – I’ll just read your blog and follow what you do week by week. My recurrant & blackcurrants need well rotted manure, and I’m going to shop for broad beans.
    Question – do you put the canes in at this stage?

  4. Hello….My Broad beans (seeds of Italy) all seem to have the black line and all are growing very well ?? What is the reason for binning ? Are they likely to be poor bearers of Beans. I do however wonder whether it is quicker to get them to grow hilium up or down, so this year I have gone 50 / 50 ! Best Luke

  5. I tend to plant a few extra beans at the end of the row and then infill any gaps that appear later in the year fromthese extras. Also I have successfully grown beans with the black hilium but if you harvest beans with a black hilium then they will be tough and not tasty. They need harvesting before the hilium goes black.

  6. Timely advice! I was going to sow mine today! I did find some of those critters in my saved beans last Autumn. I threw beans away that had the holes in them, and put the rest in a sealed jam jar in the freezer for 24 hours to kill any others.

  7. The black hilum may of may not tell you something about the viability of the seed. It could be a sign of a fungal infection but it’s much more likely to be a reflection of a single gene difference that determines whether the hilum is white or contains the black pigment melanin (which is also in the black spots on the wing petals of the broad bean flower). If you throw black hilum seeds away, chances are you are discarding perfectly healthy seeds. When soaking seeds overnight it’s best to do this in a shallow dish of water. If you completely submerge the seeds the water becomes starved of oxygen and the beans ferment, producing lethal alcohol surprisingly quickly – sniff the water in the morning and you can smell it. The safest best way to prime any seeds with water is to spread them out on wet paper towel overnight.

  8. I wish I’d read this yesterday before I planted mine – I put completely dry seeds with black hilums in the ground – just have to cross my fingers I suppose.

  9. ooh I never knew that. I’ll get some soaking then, thanks for the tip!

  10. Chris, I think you may have done the best thing. I heard once that soaking the beans tends to make the cotyledons separate and split the emerging root. I don’t know from experience but I’d just plant em dry like you did and make sure they’re kept well watered.

    Are broad-beans the same as fava beans? The latter are great boiled and then roasted a bit (tastier than peanuts).

    Now, now…no cracks about muvver beans!

  11. Are broad-beans the same as fava beans?
    Hello Kath in Oregon.
    I live in France where broad beans are called feve and my partner worked for a while in the States where they are called fava. THe two words come from the latin apparently… so yes, they are the same thing. Enjoy!

    My beans are going in today!!

  12. Hi Beverley, Oh thanks muchly! That’s good to know. I love ’em anyway. Say: two bear cubs were spotted in our vicinity (new one on me) a couple days ago, so I’m thrilled to bits (even though I can’t plant a garden because of the dastardly dark and the darling deer). I’m beginning to feel like George of the Jungle!

  13. This post is helpful. I sowed some broad beans back in February in pots in the greenhouse having soaked them first. Nothing happened. So I tipped one out – no seed! I did another and another – still no seed – maybe it was very neat mice?! But no I tipped out another and there was the seed rotting – the smell was awful like rotten eggs. Not one had germinated and all the pots either had no seed or seed in mid rot!!!!!

    So I will have a look at the remainder of the packet to see if they have white or black ends and then try again

  14. Found you while ego searching. I am an avid gardener and will bookmark your page! Much interesting info here!

  15. Hi, i’ve been given some broadbean seeds by my teacher and I observed that they all have black lines down them and my teacher said that, that was where they were attached to the plant that the seed had grown from. Is this right, or is she wrong? And are the seeds still okay to plant even though they have the black line down them?

  16. i collected some indian broadbeans seeds while cutting the vegetable. My question is whether fresh broad bean seeds can be sowed or should they be dried completly before planting them. When is a good time to sow seeds.

  17. Well, it’s April 2011 and I only just found this blog. Can’t believe it as I googled blackcurrant flowers to check what I thought were black currants in my new garden – they look like white currants! BUT the best thing is that I put my broadbeans to soak THIS EVENING!! Thanks for the tips – fab. :D