Broad Bean 'Witkiem' - Seed
This bean is a true delight!
Broad beans need no prior treatment although steeping them overnight in lukewarm water will encourage germination.Sowing
The seeds will germinate within 14 days if the temperature is above 5 degrees Celsius. Planting a row or two of broad beans every three weeks will give you several harvests throughout the season. There are two ways to sow: 1. Directly into the garden, preferably in full sun, from mid-February. The seedlings can withstand quite some frost. Fork the soil loose to at least 30 cm. Broad beans will appreciate a well fertilised soil but it should be well draining and not stay cold for too long. Draw a furrow along a string between canes at either end of the bed and plant one bean every 10 cm. Cover to a depth of 6 or 7 cm. Press firmly down and sprinkle with water if the soil is dry. Label your row – rows should be 70 cm apart. Lay some chicken wire above the seedlings to discourage birds. 2. You can get an earlier harvest if you start germination indoors from the end of January (and you will have no bother from birds). Plant one bean per pot filled with a fine potting compost, January to February. Cover to a max of 5 cm. Press lightly down and sprinkle with water. Stand the pots in the light at room temperature. If the seedlings are growing too fast for weather conditions, slow things down by standing them somewhere cooler (10 -12 °C). Do not allow the pots to dry out. Keep the pots far enough from each other that the leaves do not touch. Plant out from the beginning of March – one plant every 10 cm in rows 70 cm apart.
Broad beans are tastiest when freshly picked but they do freeze very well – still in the pod too! Left too long on the vines, broad beans can grow somewhat bitter so do harvest as soon as possible when ready. Broad beans can be kept for several days in the refrigerator. Broad beans themselves can be hulled for the insides of each bean which is also very tasty! Yield will then be slightly less and there is more work involved.Use
A short dip in boiling water will suffice to use your broad beans in a salad – cook slightly longer for say a pasta dish in a lovely creamy sauce with diced ham.
Give extra water in dry periods only. Broad beans appreciate fertiliser right through the season. Keep the bed free of weeds to encourage your broad beans to grow.Harvesting
Use both hands to harvest – this helps prevent damaging the broad bean plant too much.
When the pods are just about fully grown and the beans turning hard, the time to harvest has arrived. Break the pods off carefully and the plant will continue to grow and flower again for yet another crop.
The plant will have all dried up by the end of the season and can be dug up and discarded.