Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Broad Beans

My Broad Beans are at the height of their season. I can never afford to devote as much space as I would like to growing these beans, but I always want to grow a few of them, come what may, because home-grown ones are just so much nicer than shop-bought ones. They are absolutely delicious!

More as a result of luck than judgement I have managed to get beans coming on at different times, rather than all at once. Some of them are ready for picking.

While others are still flowering.

When the bean flowers fade, the embryonic pods stand up vertically.

As they mature, the pods gradually change their posture to a downwards-pointing one

When ready for picking, the pods should be nicely-filled. You should be able to see and feel the individual beans inside the pod. Pick them when they are young and tender. Old, over-mature ones are tough and leathery.

There are generally something between 6 and 10 beans per pod.

It's not all good news though. Here's a photo showing the two main Broad Bean problems: the disease Rust, and the pest Blackfly. I find that unless these are very severe they don't tend to affect the crop very much. They say that to reduce the problem of Blackfly you should pinch out the growing tips - which I have done, but it doesn't seem to have deterred the Blackfly much - they just seem to migrate a bit further down the plant!

You can eat the pinched-out tips of the plants as "greens", though we don't generally do so since at this time of year there are such a lot of other nice greens available - like cabbage and broccoli.

I would say that Broad Beans are probably one of my favourite veg (I have lots of favourites!), and one of the reasons is that they have a relatively short season, which somehow makes them all the more desirable. Things that are always available can get taken for granted. In the UK you can usually only get fresh Broad Beans in the shops from about mid-May to Late-July. Of course, when you grow them yourself the options are greater...


  1. Our broad beans are doing really well unlike the peas. I maybe am tempting fate here but black aphid have never been a problem for us.

  2. Didn't plant as many broad beans as I would have liked - went for the pea option, but to be honest, the peas are very time-consuming to grow and pod, so I think next year I will give the peas a miss and concentrate on the broad beans although slipping them out of their skins is a pain.

  3. I mentioed to my husband this afternoon when digging up some spuds that regret not growing any courgettes this year in pots, he said he missed his broad beans and tomatoes. I agree homegrown broad beans are superior to anything you can get at the supermarket.

    Interesting to note that the pinching out of the broad bean tops has not deterred the black aphids.

  4. I always find it really difficult to get broad beans in the shops apart from a very short window. I've managed to avoid the black fly by well timed pinching out, but I've just got back from picking some tonight and I've lost more than half of them to mice (presumably), which is most annoying!

  5. Thanks Mark, for that lovely pictorial guide on Broad beans. Tender, homegrown beans are hard to beat.

  6. Mark I obviously live in a bubble, because I have never eaten one... They look tasty!

    How do you prepare them??

  7. I never grow broad beans as I hated them as a child, but I think it's time I gave them another chance so I may grow some next year. It's great when things mature at different times over a longer period, avoids you having a glut and extends the season. I have lots of favourite veg too, it depends on what I'm harvesting at the time.

  8. Any ideas what to do with the cases? It seems a waste just chucking them on the compost heap. Is there anything more productive we can do with them?


  9. Your broad beans look great, one of my favorite veggies too.

  10. Oh, blackfly are disgusting. Not much better than Broad Beans. (Though broad beans are pretty and blackfly not.) (And they smell dreadful when cooking!) (The beans.) The photos are lovely. The green is refreshing.


  11. Martin; Sorry, but No, I don't know of anything you can do with the Broad Bean pods after you have taken the beans out. Perhaps you could make liquid plant food with them like you would with Comfrey???
    Esther; I don't accept that BBs are only a bit better than Blackfly! I suppose it's what they call "The Marmite Principle" - you either love them or hate them.
    Ali; the best way to use them (in my opinion) is to boil them (not too long) and then serve them with some bacon lardons, briefly frying the beans in the bacon fat...

  12. Hope putting a link from my post about pestilence


    to this one of yours with reference to the blackfly is ok.

    Let me know if not.


  13. Mark, as you know, I follow your blog and try not to miss a post! I was so pleased to see yours on Broadbeans and then followed the other posts you have on blog. This was great. Our first time growing them here in our garden in Nova Scotia is this year. The beans are just now standing upright, and hopefully will mature to where we want them, and not go mealy on us. Do you notice the ants go to that black spot on the flower...and stay there for ages. Do you know why? I don't have aphids..yet!! fingers crossed.

  14. is it too late to plant broadbeans. I need to send for seed

    1. I's too late to sow them for this year's crop, but you could sow some in Autumn for an early crop next Spring.


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