Wednesday 18 February 2015

Sowing Broad Beans

Like thousands of gardeners all round the country, I'm itching to get going with sowing and planting! It is too early to sow most things. The Winter has definitely not finished, and in any case most plants are unlikely to do well until light levels increase, irrespective of the temperature. However, one or two veggies lend themselves to early sowing, like Broad Beans, so guess what I sowed last weekend?

Photo from May 2014

Over the years I have tried several varieties of Broad Bean - such as "Stereo", "Witkiem Manita", "Aquadulce Claudia", "Imperial Green Longpod", etc, but I have not found one that suits my garden better than any other (unlike with Runner Beans and French Beans, where I have some clear favourites). This year I am trying two more different ones - "Masterpiece Green Longpod" and "De Monica".

The Longpods were purchased loose (£2 per half-pint) at the Hampshire Potato Day I attended the other day, but the "De Monica" ones have been sent to me for review by Marshalls (along with a variety of other seeds). I will be watching carefully to see how they compare. I was intrigued by Marshalls' description of "De Monica" as a dual-purpose bean. What they mean is that it can be Autumn-sown or Spring-sown. They are also described as fast-growing, quick-maturing with a strong upright habit - all of which sounds ideal! They should reach a height of about 4 feet / 120cm.

Since Broad Beans are very big seeds, it is incredibly easy to sow them. You just push them into the soil or compost to a depth of about 2 or 3 inches. You can of course sow them directly into the soil in the place where they are to grow, but sowing them in pots or modules is probably better, because it allows you to keep them under cover where it will be warmer, and thus get them growing earlier on. I have put mine in these little plastic pots, two to a pot:

I'm hoping that both seeds will germinate, and if they do I'll probably plant them out together as if they were one, unless they are easy to separate without damaging their roots.

My first sowing is of 6 pots of each type (i.e. a total of 24 beans). In a few weeks time I will sow another lot in order to stagger the harvest time. Currently I have my pots in old plastic washing-up bowls for ease of movement. For the time being they are lodged in the garage, where it is cool but still a lot warmer than outdoors.

When the seeds germinate I will take the plants outside, but keep them under cloches, where they will get more light, and (still in their pots) gradually acclimatise them to outdoor conditions before planting them out in their final growing positions towards the end of March.

Last year one of my daughters had great success with staking her Broad Beans individually, thus keeping them upright rather than flopping all over the place, and I am going to try that technique myself this time. Having them upright probably makes the flowers more visible and accessible to the pollinating bees too (Bumble Bees really love Broad Bean flowers!)


  1. I shall watch with interest over the coming months. I have the crimson flowered ones again this year along with whatever is left in my seeds box. The name escapes me but we've had good harvests from both so should be okay. I particularly like the scent the flowers give but wont picky any as I wouldn't get any beans then would I. Hope to sow mine at the weekend along with the sweet peas.

  2. I'm still waiting patiently to do any sowing. I'm not bothering with broad beans as they're my least favourite type of bean so I'll have to wait a little longer before I can get my fingers in the compost.

  3. I'm still wondering if I should even sow broad beans this year. I'm thinking not to as I can't eat them. It is a lot of work for something I can't eat. But if I don't, then I need something that can be out of the bed by the first week of July so I can sow my fall storage carrots.

  4. I'll be sowing broad beans (we call them fava beans) for the first time this year....very exciting, especially as I also haven't eaten them in years! So this will be the first year of experimenting with different varieties - I've chosen one extra early variety and a tall Guatemalan variety...can't wait!

  5. I will sow the seeds into pots too. The night temperatures are below zero and, the soil is still cold. Besides, there is frost in the morning. The day temperatures will slowly rise up to 7 and 10°C on weekend and I am looking forward to doing some gardening work like pruning some shrubs and maybe Wisteria.

  6. Great advice. I grew a dwarf variety last year but really, they could have been helped by a small stake as well. I think staking yours is a great idea. Have you tried soaking them first and as soon as you see them germinating, pot them up or put in a cold frame? That worked for me in the past. Now, what variety will not attract black aphids please ;-)

  7. Like Jo we're still holding off sowing any seeds just yet. We always plant both seedlings as one too.

  8. Currently under snow and -22C. Enjoy your green sprouting things!

  9. I direct sowed some autumn beans in November that started coming up last month. They begin by being really pale green as they peek thought the soil then darken up as they unfurl, really pretty. I'll sow a spring variety (I have Express Eleonora) next month probably, to get a staggered crop.
    Exciting to be sowing things eh!


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