This story is for Lynda🙂. Broadbeans grow pretty tall. In fact, if the conditions are right, they can grow to be TOO tall; as the flowers then little pods develop, the weight can topple them.  The ones in the picture above have toppled at the edge of the bed, and would all fall if affirmative action isn’t taken right away. Here are our top tips to keep them ticketyboo and straight up!

🌿 Pinch tips to limit top growth

Sometimes the plants will keep growing taller even though the flowers have formed. It’s unlikely to be helpful with more flowers or beans, so you can halt the upward march by pinching out the top shoot. That will signal the plant to concentrate on the side development. The best thing is that both the flowers and the shoots are edible – flowers in a salad and the shoots in a stirfry. YUM!! 

🌿 Stake and tie from the start

Sowing the beans in rows with stakes and string from the start can keep them evenly spaced and up straight. This method avoids overcrowding and great if you have the space. The strings are best doubled so that each stalk can be trapped between them. 

🌿 Plant beans into old corn beds

Here is my corn bed after the cobs are finished. I strip off all the leaves and usually leave the stalks tall and plant a broad bean next to each one. This gives the beans a support and also helps to draw  nitrogen back into the soil after the corn crop. The bed fills out but with the supporting corn ‘stakes’ in amongst the beans for support. This year I made a tactical error and cut them down too short to do this – brainfade 🤪 – and now the beans have grown way too tall. Aah well, I’ll tip them, stake the corners and wind some string round the boundary.  It’ll be fiiiiiine 👍😎

Broad beans are tasty steamed when still young pods. Once the pods are big and the ‘fluffy’ cushioning grows inside the pod, they must be shelled to cook and eat.  The flowers are great in salad, and the top shoots can be steamed or stir-fried.  The key is patience – they take longer to pod up than you might expect. If they start to collapse, take action to support them or slow the growth, and you will be rewarded.

Look wide; grow well, folks 🌿