Growing Broad Beans

Broad Beans, lima beans, fava beans and horse beans are a staple in our diet.  They are meaty, chocked full of flavor and frankly, delicious.  Do not eat them raw though… They are excellent cooked with deep flavored herbs such as sage, oregano, rosemary and thyme.

Growing Broad Beans [image source: podgardening-co-nz]Sow
In early January; sow Broad Beans seeds indoors in trays in succession planting 2-3 seedlings per week in 4” pots in potting soil which has been inoculated with Rhizobia bacteria (available from seed catalogs, online resources etc.). Sow Broad Beans in seedling trays in soil that is 77-86o F at 1 ½” depth. Broad Beans do better when they are direct seeded but also require a high temperature to germinate. You may also try soaking for 12 hours and sprouting the Broad Beans seeds and then plant directly into the soil if seedlings are not taking off. It will take about 7-10 days to germinate. Transplant the seedlings into a hot bed in soil that is 60-65o F. Plant the sprouted (germinated seeds) into the hot bed with a soil temperature of 60-65o F. Space each seedling 6” apart and 8” between rows.

Broad Beans are a bush bean. The pH range should be 6.5-7.5. They need full sun and watering should be low during growth, medium watering during flowering and heavy during harvest. Water Broad Beans only at the base of the plant as to avoid mold and fungus infections. Pinch back the top of the pant when the first pods begin to grow. Cover with a frost cloth until threat of frost is gone. During the cold months of January and February, also cover with a hoop house to trap in heat, uncover during warm days to ensure pollination. Fertilize with compost tea every two weeks for the first six weeks and then every three weeks until harvest.

Harvest Broad Beans often to ensure heavy yields. Harvest pods which are plump and do not allow them to get too big or they will be tough.  Shell the beans and freeze the beans for 48 hours to prevent bean weevils from infecting future crops.  Cook fresh or allow to dry and then cook.

Broad Beans Flowering [image source: harvesttotable-com]

Saving Seeds
Stop watering and allow Broad Beans to dry on the bush. Remove the seeds from the pods and allow the Broad Beans to dry in a warm, dry area for 7-10 days. Store dried Broad Beans in a mason jar.

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