If your plot is reasonably sheltered then you can sow broad beans in November (choose an overwintering variety, such as Aquadulce).
The main time for sowing is February to April. You can sow the broad been seeds straight into the soil, in small pots, or “sprout” them under damp kitchen roll for a couple of days to get them started. Don’t sow directly into the soil if it is very wet, as the seed is more likely to rot. If you are starting them in pots, then sow one seed per 8cm (3in) pots and keep under cover, such as in a greenhouse or coldframe, or under cloches. This gives excellent germination rates and allows you to bring the plants on a little before planting out. If you are sprouting your seeds, then lay them on and under damp kitchen roll until they start to sprout. Plant out once the shoots are about 2cm (¾in) long.
If you are using your own stored seed (as we do) then check your seeds for holes and discard any that have them.
Plant the seeds (or young plants) in double rows so that the plants can give each other some support when they are taller. We’ve found about 15cm (6in) between seeds (plants), and 20cm (8in) between rows works well. Then leave enough room between double rows to be able to walk down comfortably, about 45cm (18in).
Sow all seed about 5cm (2in) deep, and cover with compost or soil. Water well.
Broad Bean Plant Care
As with all plants, keep the weeds to a minimum. Dwarf varietes (such as The Sutton) do not need any support, but taller varieties will need some basic support. Usually, a bamboo cane at each corner of your crop and garden twine tied about 30cm (12in) apart between the canes will be sufficient, you just want to keep them contained so that they don’t flop about and get damaged.
Pinch out the top 7cm (3in) when the first beans have started to form. This means that more energy will go into growing the beans rather than growing the plant taller, and it may help to control blackfly (remember to eat the tops!)
1. Growing Broad Beans – QUICKSTART GUIDE
2. Planting Broad Beans – Sowing and planting broad beans
3. Picking and Freezing Broad Beans – How to pick and store broad beans
4. Broad Bean Growing Tips – Helpful growing tips to help you along your way
5. Broad Bean Problems, Pests and Diseases – Helpful advice when things go wrong in the veg patch
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