Yesterday I picked the majority of the pods from my first row of Broad Beans.
These are the "Witkiem Manita" ones, a row of 12 plants. This batch amounted to 2.23kgs. Put that together with the batch of 500g I took a few days previously and I think it adds up to a decent crop, especially since there are still a few more pods to come.
Knowing when to pick the pods is a matter of experience. I gently squeeze a few of them when they look ready, to see what they feel like. If they are tight and firm, then they are ready, but if they are soft and pliant there is still room for growth, and the beans inside will probably be very small. If in doubt, pick just one pod and open it to see what's inside. However, you don't want to leave the pods too long, because over-mature Broad Beans are floury and unpleasant to eat. In my opinion it is better to have a smaller harvest of tender young beans, rather than a bigger harvest of old tough ones.
I normally reckon that a two-person serving of Broad Beans is about 500g (before podding), so this batch of over 2kgs will do us for four meals. Fortunately they keep well, especially if stored in a Stayfresh bag in the fridge. It is better to harvest the pods at the perfect stage and store them than it is to leave them on the plants, where they will continue to grow.
I have another row of beans coming on too, which are not ready yet.
They were sown a month later than the first row, but they have caught up a lot and they will be ready for cropping in about a week or ten days. Four of the plants in the second row are "Witkiem Manita" like the first ones, but the other eight are an unknown variety. They look as if they are a Longpod of some sort, with longer slimmer pods. "Witkiem Manita" usually has four or five beans in a pod, but Longpod varieties typically have seven or eight. This is one of the "Longpod" pods:
The second row of beans has not produced so many pods down low on the plants, but up at the tops they have really excelled, with a high proportion of flowers setting pods.
By the way, have you noticed that I used my personalised trug for harvesting the beans?
It was a birthday present from Jane. I haven't used it till now because it is very big, and the meagre harvests I have had so far would have been dwarfed in it! Hopefully it will be fully utilised when the Runner Beans come on stream in a few weeks' time....