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!
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.
I haven’t been too hot on pest control this year so far and unfortunately it shows on my broad bean patch. My broad beans have become victim to both black soot and chocolate spot.
This year my broad beans have become victim to a massive black fly assault and as a result a black, powdery soot-like mold is covering the leaves, steam and is present on the some of the pods.
Black soot occurs after the black fly (or white fly) suck out all of the glucose and sugar from the plant, with the mold growing off of the excess sugar and glucose.
The black mold can be particularly damaging to your plants the mold can block out any light reaching the plant which will lead to a growth deficiency.
Sooty mold will also attract other pests including ants, aphids and more black and white fly. I need to first address the pest problem before I look to eradicate the mold problem.
To add to my black mold woes, I’ve also got a dose of chocolate spot on my broad beans. Chocolate spot is a fungus and is spread via the air and the rain.
In recent weeks we’ve experienced very wet and humid conditions which has caused a secondary bout of chocolate spot.
Chocolate sport performs well at a temperature between 15° and 22° – and guess what, that’s been the average temperature of the UK over the past few days!
Chocolate spot is a little brown spot that appears on the leaf of the plant but can also affect the stem of the plant, which will eventually lead to the plant collapsing in a horrible brown heap.
Because the leaves will begin to shrivel and I’ve pretty much got the most out of my plants (crop included) I can’t say that I’m too fussed about seeing them go.
It’ll free up some space and I can look to use the area for crops that I want to grow in the autumn or winter.
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.
After a number of mice attacks, and after the third attempt at sowing some seeds my broad beans have grown into lovely plants – which, I’m glad to say need to be separated into their own pots.
I planted two seeds to each pot and much like the brussels sprouts, the time has come to give each plant a bit more room.
Because these plants are bigger, they’re easier to handle. There’s no need to fill the new pots to the brim, just a handful of compost will do, just so that the base of the pot is covered.
Pat the plants out of their pots and pull away the two plants from the root, making sure you keep hold of as much of the roots as possible.
Place the plants into the middle of the new pot and fill the gaps with fresh compost.
Water well and hope for the best! These plants will be a target for slugs and snails, so I’ve set a slug bin to help deter any pests from eating my broad beans.