Sunday 5 July 2015

Broad Bean harvest

Although my harvest of Broad Beans is not large, it is very welcome. So far I have harvested 2.6 kilograms of pods, and I expect I will get about another kilogram before they finish. I reckon to use about half a kilo of beans to serve two people, so that means we will have had about seven meals' worth of beans.

My beans this year are of two different varieties. One of these is "Imperial Green Longpod", the seeds of which I bought at the Hampshire Potato Day in January. The plants produce long slim, very green pods, with very little "internal padding". Each pod usually has about 6 or 7 beans.

The other variety is "De Monica", which were kindly supplied by the people at Marshalls. "De Monica" has produced short, fat pods, each with 4 or 5 beans, and lots of soft "internal padding".

Some of the pods however have been very strangely-shaped. I attribute this to the sap-sucking antics of the swarms of Blackfly that have infested the plants. These mis-shapen pods delivered just a couple of beans each.

The colour of the beans is very different too. The "De Monica" ones are very pale grey-green, whereas the "Imperial Green Longpod" live up to their name by being a bright (Jade?) green.

"De Monica"

"Imperial Green Longpod"

In terms of flavour, I can't say that I can discern any difference between the two varieties, but that is probably because we don't typically eat Broad Beans on their own, so the flavour may be altered by the presence of other flavours.

I know that this has been a very bad year for Broad Beans because the Blackfly has been so prolific.

Many of my gardening contacts have said that their Broad Beans have been a complete washout, so I reckon I have done quite well! I must confess though that I am slightly disappointed with the yield from my plants. They produced masses of flowers, but only a modest proportion of them were pollinated. We hear all the time about the decline in the bee population, so I guess this is evidence of it.


  1. Your broad beans look so nice. Those two varieties are not easily available in the states. I have tried growing Windsor a couple of times but did not get enough to be worth the space. And while I never see aphids in my garden, as soon as I planted broad beans they were attacked by black aphids. Where do they come from? Spontaneous generation?

  2. I don't think that's a bad haul from your plants, I'd be very pleased with that. I reckon if I were growing my veggies in the garden they'd be well pollinated, I've got a bumblebee nest here this year.

  3. I know what you mean about padding - I opened up my first broad bean this past week as it felt quite full. The beans inside still seemed rather small & I was surprised by the amount of "padding". Having never grown them before, perhaps they were not that small, but since the pod only seemed half full once opened, maybe that tainted my perception.

    1. It depends how big you want your beans Margaret. Some people like to harvest them small and sweet but I prefer to get a bit more quantity so leave them swell more in the pods. First-time round it's hard to judge when's the right time for you, they can feel really big but then when you open a pod they're tiny.

  4. I am still waiting on my Broad Beans, we always seem to be a few weeks behind up here. So far they are looking like they'll produce well but fingers crossed!

  5. The blackfly are attacking virtually everything in my garden this year - chillies, chard, beetroot, peas, lettuce, courgettes, coriander, kohlrabi, french beans… No idea why there are so many this year, is it the (rubbish) weather?!

  6. Too bad about the aphids. I always wonder what makes some years so bad and some years fine.

  7. My autumn sown broad beans Claudia cropped early (May) and so escaped the worst of the blackfly, unlike the March sown Robin Hood beans which were destroyed by the weight of aphid infestation. Also the overwintered beans were much better pollinated by the very active early bumble bees than the spring sown beans that suffered from the lack of later bee types. The downside of overwintering broad beans is that there can be heavy plant losses in bad winter weather, so it is always a bit of a gamble.

  8. Like spade and dagger, my autumn sown BB escaped black fly but the spring ones have had it bad. I gave them a spray with washing-up liquid solution but the amount of black fly was huge already. Not that many flowers set (despite having masses of flowers) but the pods feel full. Whereas my autumn beans had quite a good number of pods but some of the pods only had a couple of beans.


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