Delicious broad beans are incredibly easy to grow, providing the first bean crop of the season. Hardy, they can be sown in autumn or spring, bearing crops of succulent, sweet beans from May to June.
When growing broad beans, keep an eye out for black bean aphid, Aphis fabae. Here’s how to deal with black bean aphid if spotted.
For more detail, take a look at our broad bean Grow Guide.
Did you know…
Hardy varieties can be sown outside in autumn, but sowing them in pots under cover instead will give you an early harvest. This is the best method in cold or wet areas, where outdoor sowing isn’t possible. Use small, deep pots or root trainers, sowing one seed in each. Water sparingly over winter and plant out in March.
Broad beans are an excellent source of protein and fibre, with good levels of vitamins A and C, iron and magnesium.
How to grow
Choose a sunny site and stake securely, as mature plants may become top heavy. Make successive sowings to enjoy a long harvest and avoid gluts – sow the next batch when the first is about 15cm high. Pinch out the tips of each plant when beans start to form, as this will concentrate energy on the crop and deter aphids. Water during dry spells, especially when flowers appear.
Start picking from the base upwards – whole pods can be eaten when young and tender (about 8cm long). Otherwise, pick to shell the beans when pods are full of good-sized, firm beans. Shoot tips are delicious to eat, too.
Beans in pods keep for several days in the fridge. Shelled beans can be blanched, then frozen. Bear in mind that, in common with all beans, the flavour of broad beans diminishes with time, so it’s best to eat them as soon after harvesting as possible.
Broad bean recipe ideas