Site Preparation: In the autumn apply a good layer of well rotted manure to the growing area. Then in spring approx a fortnight before planting out add a dose of bonemeal to the growing area. The key to growing beans is moisture retention so soil should be full of organic material.
Sowing: The advantage of beans is that the seeds are reasonably large and easy to handle. Many people plant these crops outside but I find that to ensure good rates of germination, sowing onto toilet roll tubes undercover and planting out once stronger. I normally sow the seeds at the start of Feb and a second batch at the start of April.
Planting Out: When planting out use a covering of fleece if the weather forecast indicates a frost. Feed with a high N2 feed after a fortnight if the plants haven't begun growing.
Harvesting: When harvesting a quick tug on the bean in a downwards direction should release it from the plant. If the bean isn't released just snip at the stem joint with some sharp secateurs.
Pests and Diseases: The number one pest for the broad beans are blackfly, to avoid blackfly, when the bean plants reach the right height nip out the growing point as the blackfly are only interested in the soft new growth. The other problems for broad beans include:
- Chocolate Spot - Increase spacing between plants so that the airflow can reach all plants.
Varieties: The following are the varieties i have used with notes on the performance of each one.
- Masterpiece Green Longpod - Average all round, widely available
- Aquadulcia Claudia - Autumn sown, Hardy, good cropper.
- Imperoal Green Longpod - Good beginner bean, easy to grow, good taste
- Bunyards Exhibition - Personal favourite, good cropper, good in the kitchen
- The Sutton (Dwarf) - I don't really see the point in this bean however good taste and easy to grow.