Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Growing Broad Beans ~ Winter Delicacy.

We have had our second meal with broad beans as a side serving. These have to be one of the most delicious vegetables to hit our plates yet.

The first time I tasted broad beans was at the local bistro last winter and knew that I had to grow my own. I was delighted to find them at the end of summer at our garden shop.

Broad beans can only be grown in winter in our Mediterranean climate. They take three to four months to start yielding and thereafter should be picked regularly.

Something that I learnt in my son's botany studies this year is that all plants primary goal is to make seed so that it can continue its type. Therefore if we pick the beans, the plant will make more flowers to make more seed (which we will again pick.)



The plants can grow to 1.5 m tall and can be staked individually or as a bunch like I did. I used 6 stakes and then tied a thick plastic rope around them to give some stability. The winds here can snap the stalk easily.


The flowers are gorgeous aren't they? My gardening book says the pollen (and the beans) can be fatal to people of Southern European Descent due to an inherited disorder called Favism!! Goodness! So if that's you, don't sniff them :-)


The pods can be eaten when very young, but the beans are best fully grown to the size of a R2 coin. Slit them open on one side, push the beans out into a pot with your thumb and steam lightly. Eat just like that. They taste like a soft-sweet-pea-cross-green bean, really intriguing.

As they are part of the legume family they are really good to plant after the heavy feeding crops of summer so that they can fix nitrogen in the soil.

8 comments:

Kate said...

interesting - my gran used to grow them when I was a child, but they were my most hated farm product. Perhaps they were left to get too old, but they alway left that tanniny (sp?) feeling of furry teeth. Maybe I should give them another shot...

Nicole said...

Hi there,

Love the report on your broadbeans. We too are growing them at the moent for the first time and I would love to know the recipe you tasted at the restaurant. I love looking at your garden and home. We are so far away but so similar. We live in Australia. I am starting to homeschool my eldest little boy next year. Congratulations on a great blog!

Smiles and blessings
Nicole

Wendy said...

Hi Nicole

At the Bistro they did them in a fresh tomato sauce with oregano and black pepper.

Very yummy!

craftycherry said...

I enjoyed reading about you on Down to earth and I too am slowly gaining a urban homestead back yard. Like you I am finding that one thing leads to another in the simple way of living and I will enjoy returning to your blog to have a good read. maybe Ive been watching too many reruns of the Good Life (from the 70s) but Id like to have a goat next!!
love Cherry

Claire said...

Hi Wendy,
I've got the same beans growing in my garden, and I haven't been harvesting them as I wanted them to dry out so I could use the seed for next year. Should I be picking them madly instead?? Can one pick them while they're green and dry them for seed? How? Hope you can help as they are stunning beans and I want to plant LOADS next year.
Thanks,
Claire

Peter said...

Hi Wendy I think your ideas for green living and growing one's own vegetables are wise. I have heard that broad beans may be of help to parkins suffers and am tring to obtain seed?...And do you have a contact number where one may buy fresh broad beans for immediate consumption. If you can help I will appreciate it.

Peter said...

Hi Wendy I think your ideas for green living and growing one's own vegetables are wise. I have heard that broad beans may be of help to parkins suffers and am tring to obtain seed?...And do you have a contact number where one may buy fresh broad beans for immediate consumption. If you can help I will appreciate it.

Wendy said...

Hi Peter,
I have seen some packets at Fruit & Veg city locally. Perhaps call them and see if you can get the suppliers contact info.