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