Bunyards Exhibition Broad Beans are an old favourite and has earned the RHS Perfect for Pollinators mark – meaning that it’s a great plant for encouraging bees and other insects into pollinating the flowers. They’re said to be versatile and resilient plants that produces a crop that’s ideal for freezing. Broad beans are a great source of vitamin B1 and fibre.
I’m trying to get a little bit of a head start on the some of the crops this year and I’ve read that so long as you have a greenhouse of a cold frame you can sow some of your plants indoors in the hope of an early May harvest.
I’ve sown these Bunyards Exhibition beans two at a time into pots so that I can maximise the amount of space that I have available. When and if they germinate, I’ll look to separate the seedlings into their own individual pots before I plant them out. I’ve buried them around 2cm deep in multi-purpose compost.
I’ve sown them with the eyes pointing upwards, so that when they germinate they’ll be growing in the right direction (although you can’t really see that in the photos below!). Pointing the seeds in the right direction isn’t essential, as over the years I have seen seedlings correct themselves as they strive to face the sun.
Water well and hope for the best!
Bunyards Exhibition update 16/01/2016
After returning to the plot a week later, I was greeted with seeded pots that had been dug up by the mice. Mice love eating seeds, especially beans and peas. I couldn’t believe my luck – it was gutting to witness and I ended up resowing them. I hope you learn from my mistakes and are sure to keep your seedlings away from mice (or lay a deterrent) to ensure your beans germinate without hindrance.
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.
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.
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.