Field Beans

Broad Beans (Field Bean): Everything To Grow In Your Garden

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The field bean or broad bean is a healthy vegetable for the garden. But how does the right care and cultivation of the bean succeed? For many, the broad bean (Vicia faba ), is not exactly a familiar face in their own kitchen. Up until the 18th century, it was one of the most important staple foods for the European population. Today, if at all, they are known more as fodder for cattle. The field bean is also rarely found in local supermarkets and discounters. Harvested early, however, the vegetables are very tasty and healthy. So why not try your own cultivation?

It has already been proven that the field bean was already 6000 years BC. Was cultivated. Unfortunately, these days the healthy bean is rarely available in grocery stores. The cultivation in your own garden and even on the balcony is downright easy. It can be harvested weekly for a good two months. When harvested early, the taste of the broad bean is excellent and the ingredients make it a valuable vegetable.

Origin and properties of the broad bean

Within the legume family ( Fabaceae ), the broad bean belongs to the genus of the vetch ( Vicia ), while the common bean ( Phaseolus vulgaris ) belongs to the genus Phaseolus. The origin of the field bean has not yet been clearly established, but with its excellent storage properties and nutritional values, it was able to spread quickly across Europe. At that time, their high protein and carbohydrate content was particularly important properties in order to ensure the supply of the population, which is why the field bean was one of the most important staple foods well into the 18th century.

In tropical and subtropical areas, grain legumes still play a major role in human nutrition. In recent years the field bean has experienced a small upswing in the wake of the boom in regional products and the promotion of organic farming. It is without question one of the oldest known cultivated plants of our time and deserves to delight more gardens and, above all, the palate.

Broad bean varieties

There are numerous varieties of broad beans. For use in your own garden, you should pay particular attention to delicate and aromatic grains. We have put together some tried and tested broad bean varieties for you below.

Recommended varieties of broad bean:

  • ‘Triple White’: Proven variety with very early yield; Grains are very tasty and stay tender and white even when cooked
  • ‘Hangdown’: Traditional tried and tested variety with green grain
  • ‘Hunsrück’: Very large-fruited variety with a yellow-beige grain
  • ‘Listra’: very good taste; the grains remain tender and aromatic
  • ‘Osnabrücker Markt’: Well-tried, medium-early variety with light grain
  • ‘Perla’: Popular variety, as it is quite delicate and delicate in its aroma; green grain
  • ‘Piccola’: variety with good yield; green-grained, vigorous and stable
  • ‘Robin Hood’: delicate and good taste; Low-growing variety that is also suitable for cultivation on the terrace and balcony
  • ‘Witkiem’: Very early variety with light, large grain

The broad bean variety 'Witkiem' stands out for its large, light-colored grains

Growing broad beans properly

The cultivation of the undemanding field bean turns out to be unproblematic. The plant is best placed in a sunny place. It tolerates heavy and loamy soils, which should, however, be loosened slightly before planting. On this occasion, it is worthwhile to work on some fertilizer with an organic long-term effect. Alternatively, compost is also suitable.

The field bean is one of the legumes and is often grown in preculture. The seeds are sown directly into the bed in frost-free soil at the beginning of March, preferably about five centimeters deep. The plants grow properly and need space, especially in the root area. Therefore, a planting distance of about 15 centimeters should be maintained.

The row spacing is also best chosen a little more generously. After about two weeks, the seeds will germinate. If the young plants have already grown a bit, they can be tied to a stick. This is particularly recommended for vigorous varieties in windy locations. It is also important that the soil is always sufficiently moist. Watering should be done regularly, especially in a dry spring or early summer.

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Before the plant can produce its own nitrogen, the broad bean should be helped through the starvation period. Organic tomato fertilizer with its organic long-term effect is ideal for this. If the broad bean is a hand’s breadth high, it gets its own nitrogen and does not need any additional nutrients. Fertilizing with nitrogen at this stage would even delay the formation of the nodules for natural nitrogen fixation.

How is the broad bean grown properly?

  1. First, the soil is prepared, it should be loosened up a little and filled with sufficient fertilizer or compost; otherwise, the broad bean has no great demands
  2. At the beginning of March, the seeds are put into holes 5 cm deep; here it is important to ensure that the ground is no longer frozen; A fleece cover protects against frost damage at night
  3. The distance between the plants should be about 15 cm (planted in rows also a little more generous); The seeds will start to germinate after just under two weeks
  4. As soon as possible the young plants should be attached to a stick; this promotes upward growth and reduces the risk of wind damage
  5. Make sure you always keep the broad beans moist; this is very important, especially on hot summer days
  6. You should fertilize the broad bean when planting; organic tomato fertilizer is ideal for this, which initially gives the plant the strength it needs to later supply itself with nitrogen

At the end of May, the time has come and the harvest can begin. Depending on the variety and location, the plants can be checked regularly until July, because they will bear fresh field beans for the entire period. You can find out more about harvesting and storing broad beans in the article below.

Field bean pests and diseases

The greatest danger for the robust field bean is on the one hand a rust fungus and on the other hand the black bean louse. An infestation of the rust fungus Uromyces viciae-fabae can be recognized by the rust-like spots and pustules on the leaf surface. There are remedies against the fungus, but in our opinion, you should remove the entire plant as quickly as possible and dispose of it in the residual waste. In the same bed, it is advisable not to cultivate broad beans for a few years, as the fungus can stay in the ground.

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The black bean louse ( Aphis fabae ) needs the snowball or the coat as host plants. If you have a regular infestation in summer, these host plants should also be sprayed with neem products in spring, for example. Alternatively, shredded rhubarb leaves ( Rheum rhabarbarum ) can be brewed and then left to steep for a day. The broad beans can be sprayed with this broth to drive away from the black bean louse.

For example, a broth made from rhubarb helps against the black bean louse

Slugs can be a problem for smaller plants. Here it helps to scatter slug pellets, set up beer traps, or protect the young plants with a snail fence. Japanese runner ducks are also downright hungry for the slimy snails.

Harvest and store broad beans

Depending on the location, you can harvest from the end of May. The harvest goes until the end of June, sometimes even into July if the sowing is late. If you want to prepare the broad bean including the pod, the pods should be harvested very young. Later the pods are too fibrous and only the grains can be eaten. If only the “beans”, i.e. the kernels, are to be eaten, they should be well-formed in the pods and clearly recognizable. Only then can you harvest.

It is best to store the broad bean including the pod in a cool place or in the refrigerator. The beans can be stored this way for up to a week and a half. The kernels can also be dried for later preparation. This way they hold up for many months without any problems.

Ingredients and uses of the broad bean

The kernels of the broad bean contain many valuable nutrients. With up to 2% fat and up to 30% protein, the broad bean is the perfect vegetable for building muscle. This is also one of the reasons why this type of vegetable is mainly grown as a fodder crop. The broad bean also contains up to 50% carbohydrates.

For preparation, the broad bean is best sautéed briefly and then fried in butter or fat. It is an ideal accompaniment to hearty dishes such as pork knuckles or braised meat. Even without meat, the broad beans are seared with spinach and garnished with cheese if necessary.

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