One of the chief advantages of growing vegetables in your back garden, as opposed to on an allotment or plot some distance away, is that you can pick what you want when you want - be it a lot or a little. This is very true with my Broad Beans. It only needs about 200g of beans (unshelled) to make a serving for one person, so unless there is any pressing reason to do otherwise, this is how I pick them - in small quantities, as required.
This year the situation is complicated by the fact that I sowed seeds for four different varieties of Broad Bean, so they are maturing at different rates, which is good is you want to adopt the "pick little and often" approach, but maybe not so good if you want to harvest a big load of them all at once for freezing. When I picked a batch on Saturday I didn't know want type they were:
This particular batch, weighing 475g, contained pods from two different varieties, one of them a lot longer than the other.
The difference between the two was even more obvious once the beans were shelled!
I'm fairly sure now that the green beans in long pods are "Imperial Green Longpod", and the shorter grey ones are "Witkiem Manita" - but I may be wrong!
By the way, the herb with which I cooked these beans is Winter Savory, which is perfect for this type of bean. It has a sharp flavour, a little reminiscent of Mint, but more citrussy.
With reference to the question "How do I know if my beans are ready for picking?", I offer this little tip. The pod should feel taught / firm, and you should be able to see and feel the outline of the beans within it. If it is soft and seemingly full of air, the beans inside will still be quite small. Of course there is a judgement to be made here: if the pod is TOO firm, the beans may well be over-mature, so you need to give a couple of the pods a gentle squeeze every few days once they look as if they might be ready. In any case, if the beans are over-mature, you can still rescue them by removing their skins as well as their pods (sometimes referred to as "double-podding"), which is really not necessary if the beans are young and tender.
In terms of yield, I expect to get something like 2kgs in total from the 20 plants I have in my back garden. This will be augmented by others from up at my Courtmoor Avenue plot, where I have a further 30 plants. The ones at the Courtmoor plot are much smaller and have fewer pods on them though, and the yield will certainly be proportionately smaller. I'll definitely not have enough beans to make it worth freezing any, and we shall be eating them "little and often".
Beans from the Courtmoor plot. Nice enough, but not very plentiful: