Grow Your Own
Broad beans are easy to grow and delicious, they are really versatile and can be used in salads, pasta dishes, stews and soups.
There are some great varieties available, we recommend:
'Aguadulce' - early maturing producing round, sweet beans, ideal for sowing in autumn.
'Bunyards Exhibition' - high yield with large succulent beans that are full of flavour 'Stereo' - smaller, tender beans with a delicious flavour and very sweet.
'Witkeim Manita' - early crop, white seed variety with great flavour Planting Broad beans are sown directly into the soil.
Some varieties are suited to be sown as early as November in trays, ensuring they are kept safe in the frost by using cloches, greenhouses or cold frames. The main sowing period is generally March and April for Broad beans sown directly into the soil. They need to be in full sun and sheltered from harsh winds. These Spring sown crops are usually ready to pick in approximately 15 weeks.
- Choose a well-drained site and dig it over well. Improving the soil will make a real difference so dig in good quality compost or manure.
- Rake the surface so the soil is a fine, crumbly texture.
- Plant the beans in 5cm deep drills, about 20cm apart, if you are planting double rows ensure these are 15cm apart.
- Cover the seeds with soil, firm down and water well.
Care and growing tips!
If you planted your seeds in pots and trays early on in a cold frame/greenhouse during the winter months the take about 2-3 weeks to germinate, you can plant them outside once the soil warms up again and the growth rate will pick up.
If you are direct sowing seeds in Spring be aware of birds and squirrels as they can dig up your newly planted seeds! Cover your rows with netting to give them the best chance of germinating undisturbed.
Hoe your vegetable beds regularly to keep weeds at bay and keep the plants well-watered.
Some plants may require staking either end with string as they grow to support their weight.
The beans are at their sweetest and most tender when they are young, at about 6cm tall, you can boil the entire pod to eat at this stage.
If you prefer your broad beans more mature, an easy way to tell if they are ready for harvest is when you can see the bean outlines through the pod's shell and the 'scar/seam' is a green or white colour (if it's black they are far too mature and will be tough). Mature broad beans are to be shelled and the individual beans are eaten not the pod.
After harvesting, leave the remaining plant in the ground as long as possible to boost the nitrogen levels in the soil for next years harvest.
If you have a huge crop with too many to eat at once, they are perfect for freezing!
Now, you have your fantastic Broad Bean harvest, what shall we cook?!
Broad Bean Carbonara.
Broad Bean Carbonara
- 85g bacon or pancetta
- 100g podded and skinned broad bean (about 400g unpodded)
- 2 egg yolks
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 1 tbsp wholegrain mustard
- 200g pappardelle or spaghetti pasta
- 50g Parmesan, grated
1. Bring a large pan of salted water to a boil. Meanwhile, cook the bacon or pancetta in a frying pan until crisp, then throw the broad beans into the pan with the bacon/pancetta fat.
2. Beat the egg yolks with the cream and mustard in a small bowl, then season with lots of black pepper.
3. Cook the pasta following pack instructions. Drain the pasta, retaining some of the water, and toss through the pancetta in the frying pan.
4. Pour in the egg and cream mix, and stir to coat, adding a splash of the reserved water if it needs loosening a little.
5. Add half of the grated Parmesan and mix so the sauce clings to the pasta, then scatter with the remaining Parmesan.