Rescuing my broad beansPosted By: rocket veg Category:
Although not especially heavy in these parts, the snowfall in January put paid to most of my broad beans, crushed by the weight and frozen to the core. When the thaw came a day or so later, the poor bean plants were a sad and sorry sight, with broken and blackened stems and crumpled foliage. Gardeners expect a few setbacks: germination failure; rampant slug attack; blight – always disappointing when they happen. I aim to make a first sowing of broad beans in the autumn – Aquadulce Claudia, a variety famed for its reliable germination and resistance to cold weather, the young plants a welcome sight in the winter months when little else is growing in the veg garden.
Having taken a good look at my bedraggled plants, I decided on a ‘kill or cure’ approach and proceeded to dig them all up, discarding those in the worst state and replanting the others after I had cut off any damaged stems. While I was doing this, I noticed that many of the plants were putting out new shoots around the base, so I am hoping that they will recover in time.
I aim to sow broad beans in early autumn in the hope of getting sturdy little plants going by the time that winter arrives. If the autumn is mild (it was last year) and broad beans are sown too early, the plants will put on surprising growth – and this is their downfall when cold weather strikes. Aquadulce Claudia beans will withstand frost - unless they have long stems and the frost is especially hard, in which case the stems stand a good chance of being ‘bitten’ and will then turn black and die. I have lost a few broad bean plants to heavy frost in previous years, so from now on I intend sowing later, in November, in the hope that smaller plants make it through to spring.
Sowing broad beans in spring
Regardless of whether you make an autumn sowing of broad beans, the time is approaching for a spring sowing – now if you have a greenhouse, cold frame or similar structure to provide a bit of warmth and protection. Broad beans are easy to sow, the biggest veg seed, easy for young gardeners to help you pop into pots filled with suitable compost. If you don’t have space for a cluster of individual pots, fill a larger pot with compost and sow a dozen or so seeds in it, then tease the plants apart when they are big enough to handle and ready to go into open ground.
Broad bean varieties to try
Bunyards Exhibition, The Sutton and Robin Hood (dwarf varieties) and the wonderfully named Masterpiece Longpod!