(Genus: Vicia faba (= Faba vulgaris) - Family: Fabaceae)
Broad Beans and their origins
A native of the Mediterranean and the Middle East, the Broad Bean is an annual that enjoys warm southerly climates. The species is divided into three botanical varieties based on the size of the seeds. The largest seed producing variant is used as a vegetable, whilst the two other varieties that include the field bean and the horse bean, are mainly used for livestock feed or to create nutrients in fallow land.
A hardy annual, the broad bean develops rapidly. It prefers a warmer climate but will cope with colder conditions.
How to Plant Broad Beans
Broad Beans thrive in warm temperate climates; they are easily blighted by frost and cannot tolerate temperatures below -5 ° C.
Plant the seeds in the autumn or late winter depending on your region. They should be planted in rows with a distance of 60-70cm between rows and then, 15-25cm between each of the seedlings, at a depth of 5-10 cm.
The soil should be rich and fertile with a medium texture that is well draining. Broad Beans enjoy a slightly acidic PH. Fertilise initially, before sowing with xxg/m² of Xxxxx xxxxxx. It is essential to avoid nitrogen based fertilisers, as the plant’s roots contain nitrogen-fixing bacteria which are easily affected by these fertilisers. Alternatively, when the foliage appears, use xx-xxg/m² of Xxxxx xxxxxx, immediate-release fertiliser.
Broad Beans do not require regular irrigation; keep watering to a minimum, focusing mainly on dry spells or periods of drought.
When to harvest Broad Beans
Fast developers, Broad Bean plants will grow to 1 metre high and have a distinctive grey-green appearance. The root is taproot, full of large tubercles. The leaves are composed of two or three pairs of leaves with blooms of white or purple, 5-petal flowers that have a characteristic dark spot called a wing.
Pods should be harvested when they have reached quite a large size, unlike green beans or French beans, the seeds should be visible through the pod.
Once harvested, they are easy to store and can be dried or frozen (once blanched), as soon as they are collected. Harvest on the day of consuming if using fresh Broad Beans.
Diseases and pests affecting the growth of Broad Beans
- Black cutworm and terricolous leaf
- Green bug
- Red spider mite
- Downy mildew
- Powdery mildew
- Grey mould
Did you know:
Broad beans are a great source of protein and contain a wide variety of minerals and vitamins including A, B, C, E, K and PP. They are also a diuretic and promote a healthy urinary function. They are typically low-calorie and have only 37 calories per 100 g when cooked from Fresh.
Italian legend states that if you find a pod containing seven beans, you will have a period of great luck.
Broad beans can be eaten raw or cooked to provide an accompaniment to main meals. They are often used in salads and sauces.