This Morning: Jeff Hordley on growing vegetables with Zoe Henry
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Broad beans are delicious and tender, works great in salads, soups and much more and they’re also very easy to grow. Whether you’re opting for green or white beans, you should give gardening a go if you have the means to.
When should you plant broad beans and how do you grow them?
When growing any vegetables at home, you should factor in the time of year, as certain cops will not flourish during different seasons.
Broad beans should be sown in spring or autumn, so roughly between the months of March and June, or September and October here in the UK.
Spring sowing is generally more reliable, especially if you’re using heavy clay soil.
Broad beans take around 15 weeks to be ready for harvest if planted during the springtime.
The autumn crop meanwhile takes around 25 weeks.
To prepare the seeds for sowing, clear your planting area and fork in compost or manure before raking the surface to create a crumbly texture.
Mark out two-inch (5cm) deep holes for each seed, leaving eight-inch (20cm) between each, as broad bean seeds are quite large and need some space to grow.
Once the seeds are in the holes, cover them with some soil, tap down well and water.
If you live in a cold area or have heavy, waterlogged soil then you will need to do things slightly differently to avoid seeds from rotting early on.
You should place your beans in deep pots instead, placing them in a frost-free place such as an unheated greenhouse, leaving them to germinate and grow a little.
Once six weeks have passed, you can plant out.
How to harvest broad beans
Timing is everything when it comes to harvesting your beans.
If you want to eat your broad beans in their pods then you will need to harvest the crop really young, whilst they are still only about 2.5 inches (6cm) long.
This is important as you will be harvesting before they get a chance to become tough.
However, if you would like to eat the beans shelled, you will need to wait a little while longer, keeping an eye on the pods until you can visibly see them bulging with beans
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After harvesting, ensure you leave the plants in the ground for as long as possible.
Like other legumes, broad beans have nitrogen-fixing bacteria in the nodules on their root system, which boost nitrogen levels in the soil.
If you decide to grow beans again the following year, the crops you plant in the same ground will reap the benefits of these nutrients in the soil.
What to do with broad beans after harvesting?
The best way to eat your beans is completely fresh.
But if you are thinking of storing some of your produce then you will need to prepare them first.
You can do this by popping them in a pot of boiling water for three minutes and then placing them straight into a bowl of cold water to stop the cooking process.
Then they will be safe for storing and cooking at a later date.
If you are eating the beans fresh, the younger ones can be eaten whole, much like mangetout or sugar snap peas.
However, the individual broad beans can also be left to mature, making them similar to garden peas or edamame beans.
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