Broad Beans – Made Simple

Buttered broad beans with bacon as a side dish or on a toasted slice of ciabatta certainly gets me excited for early Summer. Accompanied by a glass of homemade broad bean wine too of course. Yes, you can make wine from beans if you didn’t know, it’s lethal but pretty damn tasty!

I will share one my favourite recipes but first, here is how to grow these creamy podded delights.

There is many varieties to choose from and all very easy to grow, such as Aquadulce Claudia, Crimson flowered and Sutton Dwarf. This year, I am going for Super Aqualdulce from Groseeds, one the most hardiest varieties which can be sown in Autumn or early Spring.
As I said in my February To Do List blog, I will be starting one row in pots indoors and direct sowing another row to compare the difference. Plus I’m not sure I have enough windowsill space for anymore once March arrives.


Indoor Module Sowing

  • Sow 1 broad bean seed, roughly 2cm deep, in 7 – 10 cm pots in January or February.
  • Give them a good drink of water then place on a windowsill, no need for additional heat.
  • Keep them moist and patiently wait for signs of germination to appear. Or if you are like me then check them every day and whisper sweet nothings in the hope it helps. PS. It did last year.
  • After 3 – 5 weeks depending on speed of growth, harden off the young plants outside over 7 – 10 days to reduce shock to the outside temperatures.
  • Plant out into their final growing position, 10cm apart in rows 45cm apart. Raised beds and large containers can be used too.
  • Add protection and warmth to the newly planted beans by covering with horticultural fleece until growth is strong. Will help prevent our slimy enemies having a cheeky nibble too.

Direct Sowing

  • Sow 1 seed, 4cm deep, every 10cm, rows 45cm apart.
  • After sowing cover the seeds with soil and give them a good water.
  • If frost or cold weather is forecast cover with horticultural fleece to add a little protection. Seeds require constant temperatures of 8 – 18c to ensure germination.
  • For autumn sowings avoid sowing too early, big plants may look impressive however overly large plants are less likely to survive the winter frosts. Small stocky plants are best (approx. 7 – 10 cm tall) and have a far better chance of surviving.Easy! You can do it, little ones can do it, anyone can…Few added tips:
  • Water regularly.
  • Hoe in between the rows regularly to keep weeds away and prevent them taking the much needed soil nutrients.
  • As soon as the first beans start to form, remove 8 – 10 cm of the growing tip of the main stems to help prevent problems from the dreaded blackfly.
  • When tall varieties reach 80 – 100 cm in height, use strong bamboo canes to add a little extra support. Every 100 – 150 cm along each row will do.
  • Tie string to an end stake and weave the string in between all of the stakes in the row before tying at the other end. Repeat this 2 – 3 times to every row leaving about 25 – 30 cm distance between each line of string.
  • Begin harvesting the broad beans when they are about 7 – 10 cm long, applying a sharp downward twist.

    That should cover everything you need to know, but any questions just comment below.

    Now for creating a delicious dish; Warm Bean Salad with Bacon…yum! Eat as a side dish or as a topping on toasted ciabatta bread with a sprinkle of feta cheese. This is making me hungry!

    Warm Bean Salad with Bacon
    Serves 4 (depending how hungry you are)

  • 500g podded broad beans fresh from the plot or garden
  • 150g rindless, smoked, dry cured streaky bacon
  • 3 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil, plus 1 tsp and extra to serve
  • 1 fat garlic clove, finely chopped
  • 50g (1-2) shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp coarsely chopped fresh flat leaf parsley or mint
  • Sea salt flakes
  1. Drop the beans into a pan of well-salted boiling water and cook for 5 minutes or until just tender. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, nick the skin of each one with your fingernail and pop out the bright green beans.
  2. Cut the bacon rashers crossways into thin strips (about 2cm). Heat the 1 tsp of oil in a large frying pan, add the bacon and stir-fry over a high heat for about 3 minutes until crisp and golden. Tip onto a plate lined with kitchen paper and set aside.
  3. Add the 3 tbsp oil and the garlic to the pan and put over a medium heat. As soon as the garlic is sizzling (but not browned), turn down the heat, add the shallots, then soften for 3-4 minutes. Stir in the beans. Stir for 2 minutes until warmed through.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, most of the crisp bacon, the parsley or mint and some seasoning to taste.
  5. Spoon onto a serving plate, drizzle over a little more oil, then scatter over the remaining crisp bacon and a few sea salt flakes and serve.
    Taken from delicious. magazine.

    What’s your favourite broad bean recipe? Comment below and share yours!


8 thoughts on “Broad Beans – Made Simple

  1. dogwooddays says:

    I’m looking forward to growing broad beans for the first time this year. Can’t believe I’ve not grown them before, but wasn’t that keen on then until last year. I know what you mean about windowsill space. By April even the kids have to have pots on their windowsills!! ☺

  2. Flighty says:

    A good, informative post. I grow broad beans every year but had a couple of years when the blackfly infestation was so bad all I could do was pull them up and add to the compost heap. This year I’m trying a heritage variety ‘Crimson Flowered’ which reportedly tend to be blackfly free. I grow short single rows, one early March and one a month later. I’ve no favourite recipe but I like the look and sound of yours. xx

  3. Mark Willis says:

    I was waiting for the recipe for Broad Bean wine! (Not that I would ever be able to grow enough BBs to make it justifiable).
    I grow only small numbers – usually 20 -24 plants – and with so few, staking them individually is viable.

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