One of the easiest of winter crops is broad beans, and it is among the last veggies to sow before winter truly arrives.
Beans sown in May should be ready for harvesting from end July or early August through to late September or October.
‘Longpod Aquadulce’ (Kirchhoffs) is a sturdy 1 m high heirloom variety that bears long pods, with large, flat pale seeds inside. Plants are rarely bothered by pests or disease.
What’s to like
Broad beans are legumes, which means they are an excellent source of high-quality plant protein that makes it a more suitable source of protein for people worried about osteoporosis or are suffering from arthritis.
Fresh beans have a delicious earthy flavour. Small beans can be boiled and served with a dash of butter but the skin on larger beans is tough. Nick open the outer skin and squeeze out the inner green bean. Boil, or puree or add to soups and stews.
How to grow broad beans
Broad beans need full sun, shelter from the wind, and prefer heavier, fertile soil that has been enriched with compost. If the soil is poor, add 2:3:2 or 3:1:5 fertiliser.
Sow directly into the soil where the plants are to mature. Plant two seeds per hole and if both germinate, cut off the weaker plant but don’t allow the two plants to compete.
Keep the beans moist during germination and water regularly once the seedlings have germinated.
As the beans grow keep the soil moist because drying out affects the yield.
Provide extra nutrition by feeding twice a month with a liquid fertilizer like Margaret Roberts Organic Supercharger.
Stake the beans as they grow because they get top heavy once the fruit starts forming.
When to harvest
The pods are ready for picking within 12 to 16 weeks when they have filled out and before they burst open. Pick regularly to encourage the plant to keep on flowering and producing new fruit. If the pods are left too long on the bush the beans will be bitter.
Water once a week or as needed so that the soil does not dry out completely.
During very cold spells protect veggies with frost cloth.
Fertilise brassicas and other seedlings for strong and healthy plants that resist the cold.
Eradicate aphids on brassicas with organic or biological pest solutions.
Move wormeries into a warm, sheltered area. Compost worms are affected by the cold.
What to sow now:
Summer rainfall areas: broad beans, kohlrabi, radish, lettuce (May) garden peas in less frosty areas.
Winter rainfall areas: Broad beans, celery, lettuce, leeks, onions, garden peas, radish, spinach, turnips.
Subtropical areas: Runner and bush beans, beetroot, brinjals, cabbage, carrot, cucumber, melons, garden peas, pumpkin and other squash, radish, spinach Swiss chard, tomato, turnips.
Broad Beans – Tuis
By Alice Coetzee