The Broad bean

Person Author: Ryan Lewis Calender February 17, 2012 Posted Tags: , , Comment No Comments

As propagators and soils warm all across the country, gardeners start to think tactically about which seeds should be sown now and which to hold off on. Broad beans are perfect for sowing indoors now and you can even sow them outdoors in warmer areas of the country as long as they are provided with a little cover in the form of a cloche or fleece in very cold weather.

Three to try:

Aquadulce Claudia: An excellent cultivar for overwintering. This particular broad bean can be planted in the autumn where it will germinate and grow until the temperatures drop. Throughout winter it will cease growth and then resume growing when temperatures rise. A perfect plant for an early crop. Can also be sown in late winter/ early spring.

Bunyards Exhibition: A favourite of many gardeners, this great heirloom bean grows to a height of 80cm and will produce long pods filled with around 7-9 succulent beans.

The Sutton Dwarf: This dwarf broad bean, growing to 45cm is perfect for growing in small or exposed gardens. Due to it’s size it also grows well in containers, meaning that no matter how much space you have you can always have broad beans. Good for both Autumn and Spring sowing.

If you are planning on sowing seed indoors make sure that you grow beans in cell trays or individual small pots filled with seed compost. Sow one seed in each cell or pot and water these in well with a fine rose. Place the cell trays and pots in a heated propagator or in a warm place and allow seeds to germinate. Post germination ensure that you remove plants from the propagator and provide them with adequate light and water, a windowsill out of direct sunlight should suffice. Repot plants when roots reach the bottom of the pot and take care to harden plants off in a unheated greenhouse or cold frame. Your broad beans will be ready to plant out when temperatures warm a little bit more in the Spring.

Alternatively you can sow seeds outdoors in to a prepared bed. Ensuring good spacing, sow seeds in rows at a depth of 5-7.5cm (2-3”) every 15-23cm (6-9”) in drills 23cm (9”) apart. Good ventilation is essential to reducing fungal infection and disease. It also ensures that you have good access to pick pods.

As soon as the first pods form at the base of plants you should pinch out the tips of plants to ensure good pod formation and reduce the likelihood of pest attack on fresh shoots.

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