Good Food



Emma Crawforth

is a quali ied horticultu­rist, trained at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and is the gardening editor for BBC Gardeners’ World. This month, advice on growing broad beans.

BROAD BEANS What to look for when broad beans are ready?

Pick as soon as the individual beans show in the pod, starting at the base of the plant. Young ones are more succulent. Take care if you’re pulling rather than cutting them, as it’s easy to tear the plant’s stem. You can harvest whole pods, but this is rarely worthwhile, as you’ll miss out on the formed beans.

What time of year are they grown?

In sheltered gardens, autumn sowing will give you a crop from May to Œill the ‘hungry gap’ [when there is little else to harvest]. Sow another crop under glass in midwinter, and continue sowing batches through April, directly in the ground when the temperatur­e’s above 5C. This will give you regular harvests until the end of summer.

Are there di erent varieties of broad beans?

At this time of year, Windsor are ready to pick, after being sown in spring. These are thought to have the best Œlavour. Longpods are hardier, so good for overwinter­ing, but you can grow dwarf varieties if space is limited. For red seeds, try Red Epicure (spring sown); for white, Aquadulce Claudia (autumn sown); and for green, Imperial Green Longpod (spring sown).

How easy is it to grow your own?

Broad beans are a hardy crop, so you rarely have to worry about cold weather. But, don’t grow them in waterlogge­d soil. Plant in a sunny spot in fertile soil, stake tall varieties, and water when they’re in Œlower. Black bean aphid is an extremely common pest and can be controlled by pinching out the young shoots where the pest gathers.

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