Sunday, 12 April 2015

Spare Broad Beans - to use or not to use?

A couple of weeks ago when I planted out my Broad Beans I was afraid that some of them might not survive the ravages of weather and pigeons, so I sowed a few more. I used some seeds remaining from a pack started last year. They are of the variety "Stereo", a short type alleged to be very suitable for small gardens and/or windy sites. It produces small but well-filled pods. Here you can see a basket of them in the foreground, visibly much smaller than the traditional "Witkiem Manita"" type seen in the background.

Whether it is because the seeds were not new, or for some other reason, the plants that came up have been of all different sizes, even though they all germinated at more or less the same time. In this pot you can see three plants - one large, one small and one medium-sized.

Despite all this, it now looks as if my main batch of Broad Beans is NOT going to be decimated. In fact they couldn't really look healthier:

I don't know whether those fluttering ribbons did any good, but at least the plants seem to have passed the stage at which the pigeons felt a desire to gobble them up.

So, I am left with the decision of what to do with the spare "Stereos".  I have decided to hedge my bets: to ditch some of them and keep others.

I have put two at each end of the bed in which the "maincrop" Broad Beans are growing:

And I have put four of them into a 12" pot:

I hope to prove with this that you don't need a huge amount of space to be able to grow vegetables. Even if you just had a little patio or balcony, you could surely squeeze in a pot like that!

The remaining couple of plants are effectively on "Death Row". I can't bear to simply dump them in the compost pile - at least not before I am absolutely certain that they will not be needed to replace casualties! I'll just keep them in their little pots as long as possible.


  1. It is so hard to toss those poor unwanted seedlings. I usually keep mine until they get really scraggly and wouldn't want to put them in the garden. I don't pot them up so it doesn't take long in their little soil blocks.

  2. I hate to throw a viable plant away, I have teamed up with some other gardeners and we are all growing different crops. This means that we are swapping plants now and will swap the fruits of our labour later on.

  3. It's so hard to ditch healthy plants, isn't it? Your first lot are looking very healthy.

  4. That's always the problem when planting extra seeds just in case.
    Our northern pigeons don't appear to have developed a taste for broad beans. Now I'll probably wish that I hadn't said that.

  5. Your broad beans are looking brilliant, is there a local school with a growing plot that could take extras :-)

  6. I always have too many veg seedlings left over, this years it's cabbage and kale, though I did think the chickens might eat them, so not entirely wasted? Your broad beans plants look great :)

  7. The beans are looking very good, I don't think you will need the spares. I try to give my extra seedlings away, and am occasionally able to do that. It is certainly hard to throw them in the compost pile.

  8. Your bean looks wonderful! I'll be getting mine in the ground soon. I usually don't grow extras for that very reason - I have such a hard time tossing them. Every once in a while, I do have a problem and I regret it, but for the most part, it's been ok. Eventually, I'll probably grow spares of problematic germinators; at this point, I'm still trying to figure out what those are (although peppers are now on that list).

  9. I hate to ditch anything ... I usually experiment as you have - just toss them into a container and see how they'll do (I'm lucky enough to have the space and plenty of containers on hand).

  10. I take my spare on-potted seedlings to work and ask people to put a gold coin donation into a tin for charity. Win, win!

    1. ...and you can NEVER have too many broad beans!

  11. I had the same problem last year with my red kidney beans and almost gave the spares away to a local community food growing project. I snaffled them back because the woman I spoke to made it sound like she was doing me a favour taking them off my hands! As it turned out, the slugs came out in force and I was glad of having a few spares to fill the gaps! Yours look wonderful, Mark - do you plant two bean seeds per cane?

  12. I love the glossy leaves of broad beans, they almost squeak when you touch them. I think you can eat the tips of broad bean plants so maybe you could do that with your spares? (Though you might want to check that first!)


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