Growing Broad Beans - What You Need to Know Before You Plant Them
Broad beans are ideal for beginning seed plants as they are easy to grow and maintain, but once planting they can take over your whole garden! Broad beans planted in the fall in a deep frame or in containers under cloches or in polytunnels can be the first bean to plug that 'hungry gap' in your garden next season. If you plant them in the fall, they may still be in their growing phase, but you won't need to water them excessively as they settle down into their autumn dormant state. Those planted in early spring without protection can also become an asset to any garden, as can those planted in containers. The small amount of space occupied by these various varieties makes them ideal for both container and permanent planting.
Broad beans seeds can be sown in either summer or early fall and they should be sown in a warm sunny area. They can also be sown in cold weather during the winter months, but once again, be careful, and make sure to protect the seedlings well. Planting them in colder temperatures means subjecting them to frosts and freezes, which are natural enemies of all seedlings. Another good method of protection is to grow them indoors under glass or plastic.
The majority of Broad beans seeds start out in a pod called a calyptra and these pods often separate from each other after a number of weeks. The pod now contains more seeds than can survive being planted individually at this stage so if you wish to continue to keep these seeds, there are other methods to do this. Some Broad beans seeds will stay in their pod, others will fall out and break off into smaller pieces, depending on the variety.
It's important to preserve the Broad bean seeds for later planting and they can be preserved in many ways. If you want to save your Broad beans seeds for later, it's best to place them in silica bags, labeled with the date, and stored in a cool, dry place. If you store them unopened in a cupboard, you risk losing these fragile seeds to sudden temperature changes or to dampness from cleaning out the pantry shelf, for example. Once the beans have been preserved, you'll have your choice of where to plant them.
Most people choose to plant Broad beans in the garden to get the valuable nutritional value as well as taste. Broad beans are a complete protein source that provides the needed energy and nutrients to help with weight loss. When sown in fall, early spring or late winter, you can expect seeds to germinate in about eight weeks from time to time. Most people find it best to plant in one row along the border of a row of plants that you want to grow. However, seedlings can be planted any direction, just be sure the plants you choose do not compete for nutrients and water.
Once you have chosen the location and seedling direction, it's time to move Broad beans to their outdoor setting. In order to do this, you will need to make sure your seedlings are in pots that are wide enough. The first time Broad beans are set out in their outdoor environment, you will want to check them daily to see if they are growing properly. This may be best done by pulling the plant out of the pots and observing it from a distance. You should be able to see dark rings around the seeds that indicate moisture. If the beans appear dark green around the edges of the leaves, it is not ready for outdoor planting yet and should be kept in a dark place until the proper weather conditions have given it a chance to germinate.
In the early spring when the weather is warm and moist, you can move Broad beans outdoors. This should be done as soon as the soil has warmed up. Thereafter, you should water them only when it starts to get really hot outside. You should keep your seedlings well watered but avoid standing on them too long, as this can cause them to break down. It is also best to spread Broad bean seeds evenly across the area, rather than pushing them into tight spaces.
For those who are considering replanting Broad beans, there are two different ways to do so. The first involves placing the entire plant into a pot, then covering the top with a plastic bag or Tupperware. Allowing the plant to settle in the ground and begin to grow roots is called sowing, and this method is effective for those with small spaces or who wish to continue growing Broad beans later on.