Tried and tasted... Broad beans
By: Joe Maiden
There are many broad bean varieties available, but do they vary much? Joe Maiden took a selection to trial, sowing them in late winter and recorded their yields and compared flavours.
Over the last 30 years I have sown broad beans without fail and must have tried almost every variety available during this period. That said, I have never sat back and thought which is the better variety for taste, ease of growing and cropping, so I thought what a good trial this would make.
I chose the following varieties: ‘The Sutton’, ‘Meteor Veroma’, ‘Listra’, ‘Stereo’, ‘Sciabola Verde’, ‘Masterpiece Green Long Pod’ and ‘Bunyard’s Exhibition’.
To give all the varieties an even chance I decided to start them all growing in the unheated greenhouse. Seed was sown on February 27. I used a good multi-purpose compost and sowed seeds in a six cell tray. The seed was pushed down into the compost 21⁄2cm (1in) deep and sown on its side.
The germination was excellent for all the varieties and all were through 24 days later on March 27. The seedlings were then placed in a fully ventilated cold frame.
The ground was dug in the autumn, one barrow load of well rotted farmyard manure to the square yard. The pH was about 6.8 so very slightly acidic near to planting time, I worked the ground to get a fine tilth.
On April 27, the young broad beans were planted out. The plants were very well rooted and approx 13cm (5in) tall. They had been grown on the dry side and were very stocky plants. They were planted in double rows 35cm (14in) apart and approximately 25cm (10in) apart in the row.
When the plants were 30cm (12in) tall I placed stakes either side of the row, knocked in firmly with a hammer and tied with soft string to the stakes to keep bean plants supported.
It was dry early in the season and no water was given until late May when the beans were setting. This was because I wanted to swell the beans quickly and keep them young and fresh.
How they performed
During June and July we had very dry conditions, some varieties did better than others. The shorter varieties did very well.
• For the full results get Kitchen Garden magazine - October 2011!
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