Believe it or not our life is not all about colourful flowers! The vegetable garden also plays an important part in our enjoyment, getting us out in the fresh air and harvesting what we grow. As it is now the 6 March and the sun is out it seemed perfect for sowing the first broad beans of the year.
Each year we tend to grow a mix of old favourites that we know will do well in our soil and we also have fun trying out some new varieties.
This year we are growing three (descriptions by Marshalls Seeds):
- The Sutton – “perfect for small or exposed gardens on account of the bushy, compact plants which grow to a manageable 35-45cm (15-18in) tall.“
- Masterpiece Green Longpod – “a reliable and popular long pod Broad Bean variety with up to 6 or 7 flavoursome beans per pod … excellent for freezing and have received the RHS Award of Garden Merit for its great qualities.“
- Scabiola Verde – “vigorous spring-sown, longpod variety of broad bean that produces pods up to a whopping 40cm (16in) in length with up to 10 beans per pod.“
Although you can plant direct into the ground we always have much more success by sowing in pots in the greenhouse and planting out when the soil is warmer and the new plants are more robust. We have more luck in staying on top of the mice and voles this way.
We plant two seeds to each 3 inch pot filled with a mix of multi-purpose compost and perlite. When the seedlings emerge I remove the weakest one and let the other grow away strongly. I hate to end up with some pots with nothing growing in them.
The trays of pots are watered well, covered with cling film and placed in a cold greenhouse to germinate. I cover the trays with cling film so that I do not have to worry about watering again until the seedlings emerge. The seedlings are uncovered immediately the shoots break the surface.
The strong plants will be planted out in neat (very satisfying) double rows in April/May. The beauty of growing in pots is that you get complete rows with no gaps.
As the summer moves on the bees will come and the beans will form usually cropping from around May until August depending on when they have been sown. For me the beans are best picked young and eaten fresh.
I have to say it is an extremely pleasant activity just sitting in the evening sun with a glass of wine, quietly podding the beans ready for supper. I am looking forward to it already!
Scientific name: Vicia faba
Origin: Western Asia (ref: Kew Science)