Tuesday 19 June 2012

More on Broad Beans

Broad Beans are in the shops now - hooray! Mine are coming along, but nowhere near ready yet. I think they have grown slowly because of the really strange weather.

The greater than usual levels of rainfall have produced very soft plants, which have needed a lot of support. In this first picture you can see one of the measures I have taken to counteract this: I have stretched some lengths of string along the rows, at two different heights. The photo also shows how several of the bigger plants have produced two or three additional side-shoots, which they normally would not be able to support.

A couple of weeks ago, fortunately just before we had the exceptionally wild and windy spell, I added some bamboo canes to increase the support, loosely tying one or two plants to each cane.

That photo shows just how many flowers there were / are on each plant. I often find that many of the flowers fall off without ever being pollinated and that the number of pods formed is quite small. This year, it looks as I am going to have a better success rate. In this next shot there are about 10 pods forming just on the one plant.

The pods are often formed in clusters of two or three, like this:

So, all being well, I'm in for a treat in a couple of weeks... That is unless the plants succumb to the two major Broad Bean problems - Blackfly and Rust. The Blackfly tend to congregate near the growing tips of the plants, where they suck the sap, causing stunting and deformation. You may wish to pinch-out and discard the tips altogether once the plants have reached a decent height. [The plant-tips are edible, but wash them very carefully before you eat them!]


Rust is a disease which very often afflicts Broad Beans, but it doesn't seem to be too serious - almost never fatal.


Leaves affected by rust often develop dry brown patches, like this:

I don't claim to be an organic gardener, so I have sprayed my plants with proprietary bug-killer to get rid of (reduce?) the Blackfly, but I generally don't bother to do much about the Rust, apart from removing the worst-affected leaves.

Hopefully in a couple of weeks I will be able to show you my Broad Bean harvest, and some of the ways in which I like to cook the beans.


  1. Looking good. I planted a lot of beans based on your experience, they are startng to blossom.

  2. Mine are covered in those black aphids. I usually just let them go and get tons of ladybugs and larva, but so far no luck with that. Hopefully they will produce well enough, but at this point I'm not sure.

  3. It's my first year growing broad beans and the pods are just starting to grow. I'm looking forward to trying them.

  4. My broad beans are pretty soft this year too - interesting that you suggest it relates to the amount of rain - definitely possible in our case (for once....).

  5. I look forward to reading how you use the broad beans in the kitchen. Thanks for the details on their growth. As you know, first year for me growing them. No aphids so far or rust, but will pay close attention. Lots of ants though and far more bloom than expected.

  6. We are trying some broad beans for the first time this year. We have grown string beans for years but decided to branch out a bit this year. They are still only about 6 inches tall but seem to be doing well. Wish us luck

  7. My broad beans are still pretty small, I planted them quite a bit later this year than last, but already they're having trouble standing tall. I might have to create some of your supports for them. I'm glad you posted the picture of the rust, mine definitely had that last year and I ignored it. But by the end of the season the pods were severely effected, smaller and not properly formed. I will be sure to remove the effected leaves this time around.

  8. When you. Open the bean up why do some of the beans have small rust marks on the bean

    1. Just another symptom of the disease "Rust", I suppose.


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