Allotment planting: broad beans

Yesterday was broad bean day. We’ve had broad beans overwintering on 235 and the seem to be doing okay, but there were many more ready to go into the ground and we’d seen the distinctive black and white flowers on many a plot during the previous week, so we felt that we should be getting ours sorted out too. Most broad beans are quite sturdy, but in windy Sussex they still need some support, so Himself got on with creating that, while I dug up the area that will become our brassica cage. It was horrible work, at exactly the wrong time of year, the soil is still cold and yet the perennial weeds have got away wonderfully, so that it was a combination of deeply compressed earth, tussocky grass and horrible root systems that had to be dug out.

I mention this so that you understand that while Himself was making pretty things, I was doing the ugly, unnoticed labour that later allows pretty things to be made – I don’t want you to think I was swanning around drinking tea and talking to the neighbours while he toiled away.

So eventually, bean supports!

Because of the mouse, shrew, rat problem (we’ve seen them all in the past year) we start all our peas and beans in pots and don’t plant them out until we’re sure the plant has grown enough to have completely absorbed the legume from which it grew – it’s those legumes that are so attractive to rodents that they dig up the plant (or seed) to eat it. Once the plant has taken the stored nourishment from that pea or bean, which is really an embryo, the plant doesn’t have the same attractiveness for rodents. I don’t know if they can actually smell the seed in the ground, but it seems to me that they can.

Our autumn-sown Aquadulce Claudia went into the ground on 235 in October, and have suddenly shot up, as they always do in spring. It’s often not necessary to pinch out the tops of autumn-sown broad beans as for some reason they don’t have the same blackfly problem as spring-sown ones, possibly because the overwintered leaves are very much tougher than the tender spring growth.

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Posted by The Allotment Blogger on Monday, April 20, 2009


Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

Yesterday was broad bean day.Should be a national holiday in my opinion :)

April 20, 2009 at 1:30 PM  
Blogger Z said...

I may have said this last year, and apologise if so (but it's worth repeating anyway) - cook and eat pinched-out broad bean tops like spinach. They don't melt away as much as spinach and taste the same with the added bonus of the scent of broad bean flowers.

April 21, 2009 at 9:44 AM  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

'Broad been tops'

Z, do you mean the leaves, or the empty pods?

April 22, 2009 at 12:22 PM  
Anonymous Matt Houldsworth said...

Your frame looks great, far better than mine! Keep up the good work on the blog, very interesting stuff.

April 23, 2009 at 3:50 AM  
Blogger Z said...

The top leaves that you pinch out so that you don't get blackfly. You may get a few flower buds too, that's fine.

You can also pick and cook the young broad bean pods when the seeds are too small to pod and eat separately. The pods are tender then and can be eaten whole, just strung like you would french beans. They need to be drained well, as the soft inner lining holds water rather, but they're good to eat.

April 23, 2009 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger The Allotment Blogger said...

She means the actual top six inches or so of the plant, Mark, with the top leaves still tightly closed. If your plants are prone to blackfly infestation, you pinch out the top two leaves as soon as tiny pods appear at the base of the plant. We steam them and have them as a side vegetable or we stir fry them with some soy and horseradish and spring onions or scallions and serve over noodles.

April 23, 2009 at 8:49 AM  
Blogger Mark Hubbard said...

She means the actual top six inches or so of the plant,Superb. A new eating treat in the offering.

April 23, 2009 at 9:43 PM  
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March 20, 2010 at 4:00 AM  

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