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Thoughts on broad beans

This is the first year I've ever grown broad beans.  My mum used to grow broad beans and I remember the work of shelling them all, blanching them and spreading them out on baking trays in the freezer.  And then when they were cooked they went all grey and yuck (sorry mum!).  I also remember the furry insides of the pods, I love that feeling :)

This time last year we were visiting an old farmer and I noticed that he had a magnificent crop of broad beans, at least 2 m high, in his garden, at a time when I had barely anything growing, so I decided to give them a try.  They are planted in Autumn, grow very slowly through Winter, and then produce beans in early Spring, when other Winter crops are starting to go to seed (the brasicas) and before I can start the tomatoes and warm season crops.  This way they fill a gap in the garden production, but they get planted at the same time as all the Winter veges.

broad beans! and calendula :)
As I hadn't grown broad beans before, I wasn't sure what to expect.  Here are some of the things I learnt:

  • For a plant that likes to grow so tall, you'd think it would have its own support system, but no, it needs to be tied to a trellis, with regularly checking, particularly on windy days. I used a length of animal mesh, staked loosely with tomato stakes, and tied the bean plants with ties cut from old tyre inner-tubes.
they grow stupidly tall for something that can't support itself
  • I wasn't sure how the beans would form, turns out they grow out and up from the flowers!  I pick them when I can feel some decent sized beans inside.
the baby beans grow out and upwards
  • The flowers smell lovely, I only noticed when they reached nose height, I'm surprised you can't buy broad bean essential oil :)
  • They taste nice raw.  We have been enjoying coleslaw with all the cabbage and kale that I grew, and broad beans are perfect in a salad.  I'm not sure if I'll have any left over to freeze and boil, I quite like them raw instead.  (I have also been trying a honey/olive oil/lemon/mustard dressing 

they taste nice raw
Do you eat broad beans?  Any growing tips?  Or eating tips?

This post is linked to SundayFunday Blog Hop #1 on LittleOwlCrunchyMomma.


  1. Broad beans are one of my favourite vegetables! Ours are just coming on now. We pick them young, shell them (kids love helping with that job) and finely slice the pod to cook in boiling water with the beans. They cook lightly til tender, then serve with dob of butter and grind of pepper. Delicious! They are also good cooked, and made into a dip, or fried with some butter, green herbs and garlic. As they get older/ bigger, we don't eat the pod, but find you don't need to double peel them. Only broad beans that have been stored in the fridge, or frozen, need to have their extra peel taken off. We did dry a heap of them one year (you can make ful medames from them) but they went mouldy before got to try it!! Now we just grow enough to eat them fresh, and enjoy those, not bothering to try and preserve them.

  2. I love broad beans. Picked young are best although when older the inner flesh is bright green and very tender. Lightly steamed with garlic is a favorite way to eat them especially served on a piece of sourdough and a little olive oil and Parmesan.

  3. We plant ours in a big clump in a sheltered spot and this helps with support. We stir fry them when young pods and all ...then as they age, beautiful with a baked dinner steamed. One year I also made broad bean and garlic dip which was a real winner and we have never seen anything so green.

  4. We grow Broad Beans although I don't like them. Our crop this year was poor.
    I have found that I do like them when made into a hoummus-like dip after peeling.
    We give ours plenty of support and they act as a windbreak for later sowings of more tender plants.

  5. I'm finding out how to use broad beans too! I love them on toast like Linn. I made a pasta sauce the other night. Sautéed garlic and onion, chucked in broad beans and chicken stock. Then puréed it and added some reserved beans and Parmesan. Served with homemade pasta it was delicious! And it cost next to nothing!

  6. I like your idea of tying them to fencing wire. I planted mine quite close together to support each other and put a few rows of twine around the outside of the garden bed but I've still lost quite a few which were snapped off in strong winds. I love eating them just blanched and tossed through a simple pasta with goats chevre, garlic and olive oil.

  7. Thanks for all the great recipes and suggestions, glad to hear that so many others are enjoying their broad beans too :) I'll let you know if I ever harvest so many that I can make a dip, in the meantime, we are just eating them raw in salads, yum!

  8. I had a gorgeous salad once with baby beetroot, watercress, feta and lightly steamed fresh broad beans. So yummy.

  9. Growing Broad beans tip.

    Do not fertilize, e4specially with Nitrogen based. If you do you will get plenty of stalk/leaves but inferior beans. Virgin ground is best as long as it is crumbly
    After you have picked the beans ,dig the plants back in as they are a rich source of nitrogen, Then you can grow plants that need plenty of nitrogen.



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