Northern Outlook - - GARDENING -

They may not look pretty (the broad beans; not my hands), but these win­ter toughies will ger­mi­nate even where night tem­per­a­tures plunge be­low zero, and they’re bril­liant in sal­ads and stir-fries or teamed with ba­con in pasta, and it’s now a` la mode to puree them with mint or pecorino.

Sow broad bean seeds suc­ces­sively be­tween now and midJune. Soak the seed overnight, then plant them di­rectly into pre­pared soil at a depth of 4cm and 15cm apart. Most va­ri­eties grow to at least 1m high so will re­quire stak­ing. Wa­ter seeds deeply af­ter plant­ing, then make sure you give them ad­e­quate wa­ter through­out the grow­ing sea­son, par­tic­u­larly when they flower and set seed pods. Kings Seeds sell both ‘Dwarf Early Green’ and ‘Su­per­aguadulce’ which both ma­ture 75 days af­ter plant­ing.

Broad beans are pro­lific pro­duc­ers but need to be picked reg­u­larly to keep them com­ing on. For pod­ded beans, pick the pods when they reach about 30cm long and as thick as your thumb. Once they’re too big they tend to lose their

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