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September 25, 2009 / Malcolm Dalebö

A winter crop of broad beans

Broad beans are an ancient favourite with evidence of cultivation from as early as 6,000 BC, my eldest asked if I could still remember them being introduced, and she is seriously threatening her inheritance! Broad beans are easy to grow, high in protein and rich in vitamin C, so they’re still a must for today’s vegetable plot, especially as they taste so good.

Broad beans grow best in a sunny situation sheltered from winds and enjoy rich, moisture retentive, well-drained soil. Well, we can provide the sunny site bit, but we get some ferocious gales across the allotment site during the winter and we are still working on our soil. However, we had a spring sown crop that grew well, so we decided to try a winter crop, so that we can be eating them from May onwards.

After the poor germination of ground sown seed this year, which we can only put down to slug activity, we have decided to plant all seeds from now on in the small polytunnel at home and then plant out. The variety that we chose is ‘Aquadulce’, see image, and these were planted last week in small pots in a peat based multi-purpose compost, watered daily and the first ones have already germinated and popped their heads above the soil.

I have already cleared a bed on the allotment using my trusty Honda tiller, named Chestnut, and intend to plant two rows about 3 metres (10 foot) long. The young broad bean plants will be planted outside mid-October at a distance of 23cm (9″) apart both ways about the same distance in from the edge of the bed so that we won’t be knocked by passing wheel barrows.

Because of the high winds on the site they will need some support, so I will use the pea sticks to give them some support, and wire supports for the ones taking the brunt of the wind.

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