Rob sows broad beans...
- We plant broad beans for four reasons:
– they’re a great green manure crop, covering the soil and making sure it doesn’t compact with the winter rain which can kill the life of soil (its bacteria and fungi)
– they fix nitrogen into the soil which prepares the soil well for the next crop
– their flowers provide food for the bumblebees when there’s not much else out there in wintertime
– the beans are considered a delicacy by many (not by Rob and Megan though!) especially when you double-pod them, as well as the tips and flowers being a great addition to salads and stir fries
- Especially important when sowing broad beans is that your garden bed drains well. Our bed is nicely raised all over. If your bed had less soil in it, you could create mounds to sow your seeds in.
- Sow your seeds individually about 20 cms apart. The germination rate is high so there’s no need to sow extra. Push them twice the depth of the seed into the soil. It’s important to have plants a reasonable distance from each other to enable good air flow, as this helps prevent black spot (sometimes called chocolate spot), a fungal disease which broad beans are susceptible to.
- If you’re going to stake your broad bean plants, you could consider putting stakes in by the seed as you press it into the soil. You can stake them later of course too. If you pick the tips for eating however, the plants become stockier and hold themselves up without staking.
- We recommend netting the bed until the plants grow to a good height. Rodents will eat broad bean plants, so if you have a problem with rats and mice, set out some effective traps.
... and saves Scarlet Runner bean seeds
- Pick only the beans that are very dry and brown. You can usually hear the seeds rattling inside the pods. Save only the biggest bean seeds.
- Pod them then leave in a container out of direct sunlight for 4-5 weeks until the seeds are completely dried. You can test if they’re dried sufficiently by hitting a seed with a hammer. If the seed shatters, it’s dried out enough. At this stage, pop them in the freezer for 3-4 days. This kills off any infestation a seed may have from the bean weevil. After this time, pop them in a ziplock bag, name and date them and store in the fridge. They will keep viable for up to 5 years in the fridge.