Broad Bean

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Vicia faba

Sustainable Ewe favourites:

Superaguadulce,  Exhibition Long Pod,

Quick Reference

Optimum Soil Temperature 7-10°
Days to Germination 6-10 days
Days to Harvest 75 days
Direct Sow or Transplant Direct
Distance Apart 23cm
Soil pH 6.5-7.0
Annual/Biannual/Perennial  Perennial but grown as an annual

History

Also know as Fava Beans.

Not a bean at all, but a member of the pea family Broad beans are used as a food, animal fodder, or a cover crop.

Cultivation of Broad Beans started around 6800-6500BC.

The ancient Egyptians grew them for food and as animal fodder.  Beans have been found in pyramids.

In Roman times Broad Beans were used as election tokens – handed out by politicians during electioneering.

Frowned  upon by priests who claimed they were unclean food, in one 17th century convent banned them because of the sensual scent of their flowers.

Traditionally Beans come in two varieties Longpods with 8 beans per pod.  Or Windsors that had 4 peans per pod.  Modern varieties can have anywhere from 6 to 10 beans per pod.

Growing

Broad beans are easy to grow over the cooler months.  They prefer well worked friable soil that is not to high in Nitrogen but are not particularly fussy..

As they grow quite tall they will require staking as they are prone to wind damage.  For this reason Broad Beans are often planted in blocks rather than in rows, allowing them some protection.

Pick beans before they become overly large.  Harvest lower beans first, those nearest to the central stem.  This will encourage further growth.  As with other types of beans the more they are picked the more fruit will set.  Beans are at their best when the membrane inside the pod is green or white. (not brown or black).

As a baby vegetable they can be cooked and eaten whole.  These are ideal either hot or cold in salads, sauces, or as part of a vegetable bake.

The tips of the plant are also a great addition to salads.

Dried and ground they can be used as an alternative in Hummus.

Storing harvested Broad Beans:  Can be blanched and frozen or dried.

Seed Saving:  Self pollinating, insects do pollinate.  20 plants to maintain genetic integrity.

Seed Life:  Four years

Maintenance

When first flowers start to set pods pinch out the top growing shoot.

Fun Facts

Pythagoras, the Greek philosopher and mathematician refuse to eat Broad Beans as he believed they contained the souls of the dead.

Said to lower blood cholesterol and improve digestion.

A rich source of dietary fiber, protein, Bq, B6, B9, Iron, Copper and Manganese.

Favism is a genetic disorder which causes hemolytic anemia.  People with this disorder should avoid Broad Beans

Broad Beans contain the chemical L-Dopa which is used to treat Parkinsons Disease

The beans grew in popularity after the movie ‘Silence of the Lambs’ came out.  During the movie Hannibal Lector claimed he ‘ate her liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti’.

Problems

Chocolate Spot/Botrytis – a fungus that causes brown spots on leaves and streaks on the stems and pods.  This is more common in damp, humid weather.  Keeping the plants weeded and well spaced will reduce the risk of this.

Poor Fruit Set – too cold at flowering

Rust – purplish red spots particularly on underside of leaves.  Remove affected plants.  Crop rotation.

Pests

Both birds and mice love Broad Beans.

Green Vegetable Bug – distorted leaves and pods

Aphids – tips deformed with insect clusters.  Pinching out the growing tips removes the tender leaves that attract aphids.  Keep plants watered in dry weather.

Companion Planting

Cabbages, Corn, Lettuce, Marjoram, Potato, Spinach

NEVER  Chives, Fennel, Garlic, Onions