If the soil is at least 5ºC and not too wet, you can sow direct into the soil in November or from March to April. As the large seeds are prone to rotting in cold, wet soil and are tempting to mice, it’s often safer to start them off in small pots before planting out when they're big enough to handle. Space seeds or plants about 20cm apart each way.
Caption: Sowing in pots is safer than direct in the ground
Caring for your plants
As they mature, plants become top-heavy and fall over, so grow them in double rows or blocks so you can run string round the outside to keep them upright. Broad beans shouldn’t need fertiliser as the nodules in their roots manufacture nitrates from the air.
Pick the pods from the bottom of the plant up when they’re large enough. Pull them upwards sharply to snap them off, while holding the plant to avoid uprooting it.
Caption: Pick broad beans from the bottom of the plant up
Blackfly can be a serious pest. Spray with an organic contact insecticide spray if they start to get out of control. If you’re vigilant, you can control them by pinching out the growing tips as soon as you see a colony beginning to form. Make sure you remove or squash each one – they multiply at a phenomenal rate. Pull out any badly infested plants.
Chocolate spot is a disease that causes brown patches on the leaves and stems. It is worse on over-wintered plants in a cold, wet spring.
Caption: Chocolate spot
Broad bean rust produces powdery rusty patches and is worse later in the season. Sadly, there are no remedies for either disease.
Caption: Broad bean rust