How to Grow Broad Beans And Harvest Them

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Real Men Sow

I enjoy growing broad beans. They’re attractive plants, with sweet little beans and are one of the first crops of a new season. As an extra bonus, they’re very hardy and dead easy to grow.

If you haven’t overwintered your broad beans (like me) then you might be thinking about sowing some seeds right about now.

Avoid the blackfly, and little else can go all that wrong. Here are 6 tips I have picked up, which have regularly given me a plentiful broadie harvest.

How to Sow Broad Beans

I sow most of my veg seeds in pots these days, and broad beans are no exception. I sow beans undercover in February, but if you haven’t a greenhouse, you can wait until March time.

To save on multipurpose compost, I will sow up to five seeds in a 6-inch wide pot, before tipping out the contents and breaking up into individual seedlings.

Sowing in pots is particularly useful as the ground in early Spring can still be very wet and heavy in some areas, and not ideal for sowing direct.

Plant the Broad Beans in Blocks

I plant out seedlings when they are about 6 inches tall, with a gap of about the same between the next plant. Plant another row about 9 inches away, and create a ‘block’ of seedlings. The plants will support each other as they grow bigger. Stake around the block, and tie string around the perimeter of the plants so they don’t fall outwards.

How To Prevent and Get Rid of Black Flies from the Broad Bean Crops

Pinch Out Broad Beans

Pinching out the tips of each plant strengthens the setting fruit and helps deter black flies. I tried this for the first time last year, and it really worked! The time to do this is after the first of the flowers have set – these are normally at the bottom of the plant.

Spray Off Any Blackfly

Nipping off tips isn’t a foolproof prevention method though, so keep a beady eye out for a blackfly outbreak. Blackfly is a common problem and multiplies fast, so check every day if you can.

If you spot blackflies, try spraying them off with hot, soapy water. Have a good look around neighbouring rows too, as they can spread onto other plants such as courgette and French beans.

When to Harvest Your Broad Beans

When picking pods for shelling, wait until the shape of the beans can be seen through the pod. This is easy to see, but try to get them before the pods get too big. Don’t worry if you miss a few though – parboiled the beans and mash with feta, mint, garlic, and olive oil for a delicious spread.

Broadies also freeze really well, so throw any gluts into the freezer for winter.

Pick a Good Variety Broad Bean for Yourself

My favourite variety is Bunyard’s Exhibition, a long-standing cultivar that crops heavily. Other varieties I’ve had success with are Aquadulce Claudia (good if you do wish to overwinter) and Sutton. Sutton is smaller in size, making it suitable for containers and smaller growing spaces.

Real Men Sow
Real Men Sow

Hello, I’m Pete and I’m currently based in the west of Scotland, in a small place called Rosneath, where I’m exploring my garden adventures. I personally started gardening around 6 years ago and initially, I started out by growing my favorite fruits and berries, such as strawberries, Raspberries & Gooseberries. Since then I’ve added a lot of vegetables and working closely with my neighbor, it’s been a lot of fun.

3 thoughts on “How to Grow Broad Beans And Harvest Them”

  1. Already got flowers on my broadies in the greenhouse! Grown much quicker than expected after an unseasonably mild winter. Recently transplanted most of them to join the ones I’ve overwintered direct into the ground. Adjusting to that big world outside the cosy greenhouse will be a shock but as your mum would say: they’ve got two choices…

  2. haha, thanks for the comment Mark.

    I can’t believe how mild it has been. I’ve overwintered caulis, pak choi and all sorts in the greenhouse, and had raspberries on my canes until December. Crazy really.

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