How to grow broad beans (2022)

  • Average Yield

    3kg per 3m row

  • Spacing

    20cm apart

    60cm between rows

  • Depth

    5cm

Jobs to do each month:

  • March or April: sow seeds indoors or outdoors
  • May: plant out plants sown indoors
  • May to August: harvest pods
  • October and November: sow hardy varieties suitable for autumn sowing

Home-grown broad beans (Vicia faba) are delicious and wonderfully tender, and one of the first crops of the year. They’re easy to grow from seed, yielding green pods of green or white beans that can be used in salads, stews and soups. They don’t take up too much space and can be grown in the ground, in raised beds and in large pots. You can also buy young plants in early spring.

(Video) How to Grow Broad Beans: From Sowing Autumn and Spring

How to grow broad beans

Sow broad beans outside in spring or autumn, 20cm apart, in rows 60cm apart. If you live in a cold area, have heavy soil or a problem with mice, sow seeds under cover first, and plant the young plants out six weeks later. Pinch out the tips of plants to prevent blackfly, and stake taller varieties to stop them collapsing under the weight of the beans. Harvest when the pods are just 6cm long, for the most tender beans.

More ongrowing broad beans:

  • Allotment year planner
  • Allotment jobs for October

Growing broad beans: jump links

  • Sowing broad beans
  • Planting broad beans
  • Caring for broad beans
  • Harvesting broad beans
  • Growing broad beans: problem-solving
  • Buying broad beans
  • Best broad beans to grow

How to sow broad bean seeds

How to grow broad beans (1)

Broad bean seeds are large, so they’re very easy to sow. Hardy varieties, such as ‘Aquadulce Claudia’, can be sown in autumn (October or November) for an early crop the following May. Spring sowing is generally more reliable, especially in heavy clay soil, which can lead to the seed rotting before germinating. Sow in March or April for harvesting in summer.

How to sow broad beans outdoors

  1. Before sowing, fork plenty of compost or manure into the planting area, then rake the surface to a fine, crumbly texture
  2. Mark out 5cm deep drills, with about 20cm between each, or sow as double rows 60cm apart
  3. Sow the seeds, 5cm deep
  4. Cover the seeds with soil, firm it down and water in well
  5. In case of cold weather, cover with horticultural fleece or cloches

Sowing broad beans indoors

If you live in a cold area, have heavy or waterlogged soil, or have a problem with mice (which eat the seeds), then it’s a good idea to sow broad beans in deep pots or modules indoors.

  1. Fill small pots or modules with peat-free multipurpose compost
  2. Place one seed in each pot or module, 5cm deep
  3. Place in a cool, frost-free place, such as a cold frame or unheated greenhouse, and they should germinate within three weeks
  4. Plant out after six weeks, when the roots have filled their pot

In this programme clip from Gardeners’ World, Monty Don sows broad beanvariety ‘Crimson Flowered’ in pots, to plant out later:

(Video) How to Grow Broad Beans for Maximum Production (Fava Beans)

How to plant out broad bean plants

How to grow broad beans (2)

If you started off your broad beans in pots, they will be ready to plant out once the roots have filled their pots. Plant around 20cm apart and water in well.

Where to buy broad bean seeds online

  • Thompson & Morgan
  • Suttons
  • Van Meuwen
  • How to care for broad bean plants

    Cover the newly sown area with netting to protect the seeds from birds and squirrels. Seedlings should appear in a few weeks, depending on the weather and soil conditions.

    Water regularly once you see flowers appear, and hoe between the rows to keep weeds down.

    Pinching out the growing tips as soon as the flowers appear will help to prevent attacks of blackfly.

    (Video) HOW TO GROW BROAD BEANS FROM START TO FINISH (FAVA BEANS) #gardeninguk #homesteading #homestead

    Taller varieties of broad bean need supporting with canes and string – place strong supports at the end of each row, and then wrap rows of string around them, 30cm apart, to support the plants. Be sure to put in the supports in while the plants are still small.

    How to harvest broad beans

    How to grow broad beans (4)

    If you want to eat broad beans in their pods, harvest them really young (when they’re about 6cm long) before they have the chance to become tough or bitter. To eat them shelled, wait a little longer, until you can clearly see that the pods are bulging with beans.

    After harvesting, leave the plants in the ground for as long as possible. Like other legumes, broad beans have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules on their root system, which boost nitrogen levels in the soil. The crops you grow in this area in the following year will reap the benefits.

    How to store broad beans

    How to grow broad beans (5)

    Cook broad beans fresh, or prepare them for freezing by blanching in boiling water for three minutes then plunging into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.

    Preparing and using broad beans

    The fresh pods can be eaten whole like mangetouts when young, or the beans can be left to mature inside the pods.

    Growing broad beans: problem solving

    How to grow broad beans (6)

    Blackfly / black bean aphid
    Blackfly multiply into dense colonies on the soft, young shoot tips in spring, and can stunt growth. Pinch out the tender shoot tips once the first flowers appear – this should reduce the problem considerably.

    (Video) How to Grow Broad Beans

    • Advice on dealing with aphids

    Pea and bean weevil
    Pea and bean weevils are a nuisance but rarely a major problem on the veg patch. The larvae live in the soil and feed on the root nodules. Then when the adults emerge in June and July, they climb up the plants and eat the edges of the leaves. Thankfully, these 4mm-long, brown, snout-nosed beetles rarely cause severe damage. The plants easily survive, unless they are small and seriously infested. Pick off any beetles that you see.

    • Deal with pea and bean weevil

    Broad bean chocolate spot
    This fungal disease causes reddish-brown spots all over the plant. It is particularly common on plants sown in autumn, in damp, humid weather, or in plants that are crowded close together. It can cause loss of flowers (and therefore beans) and can cause the whole plant to collapse. There is no chemical control available so try to maximise air flow around plants, remove any weeds, and bin or burn any infected material – do not add to the compost heap. Do not save or store seed from infected plants.

    Advice on buying broad beans

    • Broad bean seeds are widely available in garden centres and online
    • If you want to sow in autumn, check that you are buying a variety that is suitable for autumn sowing
    • Also check the height and spread – some dwarf varieties are suitable for growing in pots
    • You may find young broad bean plants on sale at the garden centre or online in early spring

    Where to buy broad bean seeds

    Broad bean varieties to grow

    How to grow broad beans (7)

    Broad bean ‘Aquadulce Claudia’ – very hardy, so the best variety for autumn sowing. Long, slender pods and white beans
    Height x Spread: 1m x 45cm

    Broad bean ‘Crimson Flowered’ – a heritage variety with very attractive crimson flowers, followed by short, upright pods. Can be grown in the ground or in a container
    H x S: 90cm x 45cm

    Broad bean ‘Bunyard’s Exhibition’ – sweet and subtly flavoured, with a delicate texture
    H x S: 1.2m x 45cm

    Broad bean ‘Masterpiece Green Longpod’ – sweet, nutty flavour and high yield
    H x S: 90cm x 45cm

    H x S: 1.2m x 45cm

    (Video) Why growing Broad beans (Fava beans) in containers and pots ROCKS!

    Broad bean ‘The Sutton’ – dwarf variety, so a good option if you’re short on space or growing in pots
    H x S: 30cm x 30cm

    Broad bean ‘Witkiem Manita’ – an early cropper, producing large, well-filled pods
    H x S: 1m x 45cm

    FAQs

    How to grow broad beans? ›

    Keep soil moist during flowering and pod formation. Plant Beans in well-drained soil. Broad Beans do not require feeding apart from planting in fertile and composted soil. Broad beans set up a mutual exchange with soil microorganisms known as nitrogen-fixing bacteria, which help them produce usable nitrogen.

    What is the best way to grow broad beans? ›

    Grow your broad beans in full sun on rich, fertile, well-manured soil. Choose a sheltered spot, and position away from strong winds. If your soil is very wet or clay-based, start your broad bean plants off in pots to prevent the seeds from rotting in the ground.

    What do broad beans need to grow? ›

    Broad beans thrive in well-drained, relatively fertile, and slightly acidic soil. You don't want the soil to become waterlogged. Like other beans, they will need higher amounts of phosphorus and potassium than nitrogen. Prepare the soil well ahead of planting.

    How do you grow broad bean seeds? ›

    Sowing Broad Bean seeds - Claire's Allotment Part 407 - YouTube

    How do you increase broad bean yield? ›

    If fertility is poor, be sure to add plenty of compost/manure to the site before sowing or transplanting to the growing area. Depending on varietal, fava beans should be sown around 4-8 inches apart, and if grown in rows, should have a spacing between rows of around 18-24 inches.

    How do you grow beans? ›

    In general, plant seeds about an inch deep, and position nursery plants at the same depth they were in their previous container. Bush beans can be planted in rows 2.5 to 3 feet apart, with seeds placed 1 to 2 inches apart. After the plants germinate, thin the seedlings to 3 to 4 inches apart.

    How quickly do broad beans grow? ›

    Broad bean plants take around 15 weeks from sowing to harvest (around 30 weeks for autumn sowings). They will become top heavy very quickly once the pods start to develop.

    What is the best Fertiliser for broad beans? ›

    Broad beans make their own nitrogen so its best to avoid using fertilisers that are high in nitrogen, such as chook manure and fish emulsion. Spread cow manure over your bed 5cm thick and dig in well. Add sulphate of potash at the rate of one tablespoon every square metre and water in well.

    How often should I water broad beans? ›

    how often should you water broad beans? If the weather is dry give them a really good soaking as they come into flower, and then two weeks later when the pods begin to form. Apart from that they should be fine with the average rainfall.

    What do you feed broad beans plants? ›

    If the soil is fertile at planting time your broad beans won't need feeding again. For spring sown broad beans scatter a handful of fish, blood and bone in the soil per plant when planting.

    How do you grow broad beans in pots? ›

    How to Grow Broad Beans in a Container - YouTube

    Where do broad beans grow? ›

    Broad beans can be sown in pots under cover from February onwards, for planting out in spring. This method is especially useful where soils are wet or rich in clay (which can lead to seeds rotting in the ground), or if mice are a problem in your garden, as they tend to eat direct-sown seeds.

    Do you soak broad beans before planting? ›

    Before planting, soak your seeds in a glass of water overnight. The broad bean, much like regular beans and peas, has the ability to hold moisture that will aid its germination. A soaking will help increase its reserve as well as reveal any unviable seeds. Those that float to the surface should be discarded.

    Do broad beans crop twice? ›

    It's really good to have fresh broad beans this late in the year and it's easy to produce a second crop, especially in a good summer.

    How do you take care of broad beans? ›

    How to care for broad bean plants. Cover the newly sown area with netting to protect the seeds from birds and squirrels. Seedlings should appear in a few weeks, depending on the weather and soil conditions. Water regularly once you see flowers appear, and hoe between the rows to keep weeds down.

    Do broad beans need to climb? ›

    Support broad beans when they start to grow

    Now that the broad beans have started to grow they need to be supported, as broad beans are not climbers you would have to support each plant if you used pea sticks or canes. The easiest way is to enclose the whole row.

    Do broad beans need to climb? ›

    Support broad beans when they start to grow

    Now that the broad beans have started to grow they need to be supported, as broad beans are not climbers you would have to support each plant if you used pea sticks or canes. The easiest way is to enclose the whole row.

    Should I soak broad beans before planting? ›

    QUESTION: Is it beneficial to soak peas and broad beans before planting? ANSWER: The germination rate for broad beans and peas is good so I never soak them.

    How do you take care of broad beans? ›

    How to care for broad bean plants. Cover the newly sown area with netting to protect the seeds from birds and squirrels. Seedlings should appear in a few weeks, depending on the weather and soil conditions. Water regularly once you see flowers appear, and hoe between the rows to keep weeds down.

    Do broad beans need fertilizer? ›

    Broad beans make their own nitrogen so its best to avoid using fertilisers that are high in nitrogen, such as chook manure and fish emulsion. Spread cow manure over your bed 5cm thick and dig in well. Add sulphate of potash at the rate of one tablespoon every square metre and water in well.

    Videos

    1. How to Grow Broad Beans - Video Tutorial
    (Quickcrop)
    2. How To Grow Fava Beans aka Broad Beans | All You Need To Know!
    (Plant Abundance)
    3. How to Support Growing Broad Beans
    (Hayes Garden World)
    4. Growing Broad Beans
    (LearnHowToGarden)
    5. Broad Beans | How & When To Plant In Your Allotment Garden
    (Erica's Little Welsh Garden)
    6. How to grow broad beans in pots
    (Gardening With Ben)

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