Last year I grew Bunyards Exhibition broad beans and I started them off in pots – this year, I’m growing a different variety and using a slightly different method.
I’ve always been a little bit conscious of how much plastic we’re using in our day to day lives. One of my incentives this year is to re-use as much plastic as possible so that I can reduce my carbon footprint and send less to landfill. Waste, in this day and age can easily be avoided.
As you’d might imagine, we’re big tea drinkers and we’re constantly going through plastic milk bottles, and what tends to happen is that we just throw them away, either to be recycled (yay!) or dumped into landfill (boo!). This year that is all going to change and I am on a mission to recycle as many plastic milk bottles as possible.
Anyway, back to the broad beans. I’ve decided that I’m going plant out Giant Exhibition broad beans and see how they fair in comparison to last year’s batch, I’m also planting them straight outside rather than starting them off in a cold frame. First of all I dug over and weeded a patch so that it is ready for sowing. I then pushed these broad beans about an inch and a half into the ground.
After the digging was done I cut off the bottom of all of the milk bottles, made a hole through the lid and put a bamboo stick through the center to keep everything steady in the wind. Because the weather is still a little bit chilly, sheltering the seeds from the cold will encourage germination and also protect the seeds from any little pests that might want to dig up and eat the seeds.
Giant Exhibition Broad Beans were given the RHS Award for Garden Merit, meaning that they’re a reliable variety and should stand up against UK weather conditions.
This milk bottle technique is one that I’m going to adopt for my peas too!
I’ll tell you a little bit of a secret – I’ve never grown broad beans and so far, from what I can tell they’re used as a bit of an accompaniment or something you would use to bulk out a dish. All broad bean recipe suggestions are welcome please!
Ingredients Broad beans, as much as you like
1 Garlic crushed
3 egg yolks
1 Tablespoon of creme fraiche
1 Teaspoon of wholegrain mustard
200g Pasta (allow for 75g-100g per person)
Salt and pepper for seasoning
1. Add the finely diced the shallots, broad beans and crushed garlic into a saucepan and fry them all off with some olive oil until they’re soft.
2. In a saucepan bring some water to the boil and start cooking the pasta.
3. In a separate bowl, combine the egg yolks, creme fraiche and wholegrain mustard – this is the basis of any carbonara sauce and it takes seconds to cook through.
4. When the pasta is cooked, add it to the saucepan containing the shallots, garlic and broad beans. Stir it around and make sure everything is distributed evenly.
5. Add the carbonara sauce and stir for around one or two minutes.
In the last few weeks my broad beans have gone from strength to strength. Not so long ago I separated them into their own pots and no less than a month later I’ve decided to the plant them out. They’ve reached about 30cm in height and they’re drying out relatively quickly, which is a sure sign that they are due to be planted outside.
My old grandad used to say, “Don’t cast a clout until May is out!” which mean not to plant anything outside because you still have a risk of frost – well, I’ve decided to take a chance, with planting these beans outside.
I have 16 plants in total and I plant to plant them in a bed with french beans (that I’m yet to sow), and some herbs.
Broad beans tend to like a little bit of support, so I’ve planted each of them with a bamboo cane, creating a bit of a rudimentary cage by the end. Broad beans are prone to a number of pests and diseases including black fly, aphids and weevils. They’re also prone to attack from pigeons if there’s nothing else available too!
Much like the strawberries I planted outside earlier this month, I’ve dug a hole big enough to cater for the majority of the rootstock and then covered well. I’ve then wrapped the whole plant structure in string to try and deter the birds from eating the leaves of the plants.
I’ll keep you updated in about a weeks time on how things are going with the broad beans – my biggest fear is that they get decimated by the frost or they’ve been eaten by the birds. When the temperature rises I’ll look to empty the compost bin and lay down a mulch on the bed so that the ground will hold more water than usual.
Since then, however, I have been battling some pests as my seedlings did get eaten by a little mouse. I can’t blame the little blighters as the weather has been frosty at this time of year. However, this does mean that I’ve had to resow the broad beans and the peas about three times and I’ve had to put together a better coldframe.
I’ve also had to contend with birds pulling out the shallots from the ground. I’ve read a number of reasons as to why birds pull at bulbs, from thinking that the heads of the shallots are worms to them thinking that the tips of the onions are ideal nest-making materials. Needless to say, this has stunted progress!
Because of the delays, I was hoping to show off tiny green shoots, however, the only thing I have to show are a few tiny wisps.