Broad Beans

Broad beans then… love them or hate them? Maybe not quite in the same way as Sprouts, or indeed Marmite (love by the way) but for me, it has to be fresh, home grown Broad beans every single time. The supermarket “fresh” or frozen just turn my stomach.

I’ve had the allotment 10 years now and I’ve changed the sowing patterns every year I think so far, this year however Im going to stick with what I did last season as it was the best year yet, least for the plants, the crop wasn’t quite so brilliant, but I don’t think the weather was right with a fairly cool spring, anyway…
So as usual, Im growing “Bunyards Exhibition” and giving “Express” a try as they were in the seed store.
I have tried many times with Autumn sowings direct in to the soil, but was only getting at best 25% germination and that was very patchy. So now, I leave it till now and sow in trays in the “Grow-shed” which is an unheated shed/greenhouse hybrid.
I use a standard multi-purpose compost for this, I currently use Westland for now, a lot of the multi-purpose composts have in recent years become very course and honestly no much fun to work with, this I think is due to the manufacturers cutting down on their peat use, as well as cost savings, which means they seem to be using milled green waste, unfortunately the likes of J. Aurther Bowers seem to not mill the green waste very well and its not much use for seeds.
So, back to the beans. I filled a seed tray, almost full, and gently firmed the compost, then set the beans out lightly dibbing them in to the compost making sure the root end was down. Mind, this isn’t mega critical, as one it starts to send the roots out, they will pull themselves round the right way, did I mention seeds are amazing?
So which is the right way round you may ask? You may not of course, you might be bored stupid already!
The humble Broad Bean
One end of the bean, has a black or darker slit along it, this is where the roots will emerge from, so pop this end in the soil.
Once they are laid out in the tray, you need to gently push them in to the soil, go about the same depth as the seed is tall, making sure the seed is not in contact with the base of the seed tray. Once that is done, you can add a little compost to the top of the tray and again, carefully level it off, covering the seeds in the process, leaving the compost a touch higher than the top of the seed tray, as this will compact when you water.
Labels! I always think labeling is quite important, maybe not so if you don’t grow much, but I grow a fair bit and have a pretty poor memory, so I always label each tray as I go. A top tip, if you didn’t know already… Have the point of the label to the right, that way most of your writing will stay out of the soil, which can be a problem after a while as the names usually rub off! I always use pencil too.
Almost the last thing to do is give them a drop of water, using a fine rose. Another top tip, is is start and stop the water flowing out of the can, away from the trays, that way you have a regular spray of water and no large drops coming out. The trays should stay damp but not wet, until germination has occurred. You still need to be careful with watering, as you don’t want the seeds sat in cold, waterlogged soil really.
Last thing, I pop a plastic lid on the trays, again this is not essential but the grow shed is very exposed and can get very cold, even on fairly nice days.
From experience, if the weather stays fairly mild like it has done, these should have germinated within about 2 weeks, I will then grow them on a bit, before planting them out direct from the trays in to the soil.
Here is a plant from last year…

One thought on “Broad Beans

  1. Always had trouble with my broad beans when I start them off in standard seed trays. Yes they germinate well in the unheated green house and certainly romp away initial. They then reach a critical point where they have used up the available nutrients and start to slow down. If you can plant out into the plot at that time then all is fine. If you can’t because of bad weather or for other reasons then i feel they seem to go downhill from there on in. Am trying the ‘ root trainer’ pots this year as they hold a bit more compost and are little dearer to buy than standard ones. Will see how it goes this year.

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