Growing broad beans under cover

If you have a greenhouse or polytunnel you can guarantee yourself a very early crop of broad beans in May

Not only are broad beans delicious if picked young, they are easy to grow too. I usually grow a crop outside but have given up sowing in autumn as the wind just plays havoc with them as I have a very exposed site. Fortunately, I have a polytunnel which I put up last autumn and last November I planted a fair number to see how they would get on.

Broad beans are self pollinating (self -fertile) but do better with insect pollination

I started the seeds off in cell trays first of all and then transplanted the young plants when they were about 15cms (6in) into the polytunnel soil. This had been well manured over the previous summer and I’d also added some lime a bit later to make sure the soil was not too acidic.

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After that, it was just a matter of keeping them lightly watered over the winter, and though even in the polytunnel they did wilt from time to time in the cold weather, they were quick to recover.

It’s now the first week of May – they have shot up with the warmer weather and they have been flowering well. I’ve watered them regularly and over the last few weeks and I’ve been leaving the polytunnel door open in the day so that insects can get in – although broad beans are self fertile (self pollinating) they do produce better crops with insect pollination. Pods are now forming on some of the stems.

Won’t be too long now before they’re ready so I’m looking forward to an early crop this year.

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Broad bean pods forming after flowering

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About the Author

Tony Flanagan
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