Broad beans – Plant Now in GreenSmart Pots

Broad beans are incredibly productive for a small area.

Broad beans are another of those love em/hate em  vegetables. Some people can’t stand them, but for others, broad beans are the heroes of the plate at a time of year when not many fresh veges are ready to harvest.  They are easy to grow and require very little attention so have a go at growing them in a GreenSmartTM  Pot. In USA  they are known by their Italian name – fava bean. Either way, this bean has a rich history.

Another benefit is that they are nitrogen fixers – or more correctly, bacteria on the roots do the nitrogen fixing. Growing broad beans is a great way to increase the nitrogen levels in the soil for following crops. Here is a YouTube clip about nitrogen fixing fava beans.

Growing Broad beans and their conditions

Broad beans need full sun and protection from strong winds. Plant them from seed. In cooler parts of New Zealand, plant broad beans from February to September. In temperate areas (like Auckland) planting can be done from February to July. Here are some details about Kings Seeds’ choice of broad beans. 

You need to allow for the plants to grow up to 1 to 1.7 m tall. So support the plants with twine as they grow taller. The stems are almost square in shape.

growing scheme 3

self watering planter

When growing broad beans they don’t like water logged feet, self draining GreenSmart pots are perfect for winter conditions. Soak the seeds over night and then discard any seeds that don’t swell up with water.

Growing Broad beans seeds

plump broad bean seeds after soaking overnight

The pot will be able to grow about 15 plants so sow say 20 seeds at a depth of 5 cm and thin out the smaller plants when they are about 10 cm tall. They will germinate quite quickly.

They will thrive in soil temperatures ranging from 6 to 240 C. Mulch the soil surface in colder areas to keep it warm. Flowers are mostly pollinated by bumble bees. When the first bean pods start appearing it is time to pinch out the growing tips at the top of the plants.

Fertiliser

Use well rotted fertiliser. Eg a few handfuls of sheep manure pellets. If you have a wood fire, add a couple of handfuls of ash to provide potash to the plants.

Pests and Diseases

If there signs of aphids give the plants a weekly squirt with a garlic and chilli spray.

Companions

If planting in spring time, growing broad beans and corn work well together. The corn supports the beans and the beans provide nitrogen for the corn.

 Harvesting

It takes about four months to harvesting. Regular picking encourages more growth. In warmer areas cut back the stalks to encourage a second crop.

In the Kitchen

Fresh new shoots can be used in salads or steamed like spinach. Pick the pods while the pods are about 10 cm long and split them open to get the beans while they are juicy. If they get too big they will be starchy and bitter.

Here is a yummy broad beans and mint recipe from Radio NZ.

Happy gardening,
Bill.

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