One of this weekends jobs is going to be planting some broad beans

Some crops are good to be planted now to overwinter and produce a nice early crop in the spring. Broad beans are one of these. For preference I like to grow Aquadulce as an autumn sown crop. In some areas, you can sow them in Oct, but we have fairly mild winters here. One year I planted them in October, and they came through into flower so early in the spring that there were no insects for polination and I ended up with about two beans from them. So now I tend to wait until November, and then plant a second crop in February.

Broad beans like muck – and lots of it. Being nitrogen fixers, they are good to put in just after you have mucked your land and they will produce their own nitrogen to help break down the muck.

Dig your ground well. Beans are fairly deep rooted, so they need to be able to get their roots well down in the soil. Then dig in lots of muck.

Plant your beans about 2in (5cm) deep, spaced about 9 inches apart. The best method is to plant them in double rows, with about 2 feet between pairs of rows, or you can grow them in patches about 3 feet wide, with the beans spaced about 9 – 12 inches apart. They will need some support once they get taller, canes and string is fine for this.

In normal conditions broad beans won’t need much watering until they start flowering. Once they flower, watering will help the pods to form and produce better quality pods.

In the spring pinch out the tops of the plants. This should be done either when the plants are in full flower, or when tiny colonies of blackfly appear on the plants. This will discourage the blackfly – it seems to be the growing tip of the plant that attracts them. If you pinch out the tops before the blackfly appear, you can cook the shoots – just fry them off in a little butter.

Comment – Broad beans – love them or hate them?