Thursday, 11 September 2008

BROAD BEANS

I am about to leave and by the time I get back the broad beans will be just about ready. Today I staked and fenced them so they don't blow over on a windy spring imageday. I find it is not good enough to have string just around the outside, so I put diagonal lengths in every which way as well, forming smaller pockets which can't fall over. This is important because the bees need to be able to get in and pollinate the flowers...it is no good if the stems are all lying over one another.

This year I am growing 2 varieties. One is from an Egyptian friend of a friend and is very small and is what they prefer to use to make ful medames. The other is Coles Prolific that I have been keeping the seeds of for years. It may not be true to type now because I have had to buy some extra from time to time and have grown different ones. But they always turn out looking the same anyway. These 2 crops are separated by about 200', down a slope and on opposite sides of the house so I hope they won't cross!!

imageThe Egyptian ones I have been tip pruning for 3 reasons. Firstly, I love eating the tips...totally one of my favourite garden snacks....and secondly, this makes them branch out and so you get more stems and so more flowers and so more broad beans. Thirdly, keeping them shorter and bushier helps to stop them toppling over as the pods get bigger and heavier. This is the first year I have been so ruthless with the tip pruning and only stopped when I noticed the first flower growing. I didn't want to retard the flowering because I need them to be finished by early November so I can pull them out and use the space for summer things.And also because this way I usually don't need to water them more than once or twice because it won't be too hot between now and then......usually!! They are the perfect crop.... I eat the shoots all winter, they grow all winter, flower and produce late spring...out in time for summer planting.....don't need much watering. image

People often don't grow them because they remember their mother cooking them to a grey mass and smothering them in disgusting white sauce.....oh dear.... I just throw them in boiling water for a few seconds...maybe 20....sprinkle lightly with oil, lemon juice, pepper. Done. There are lots of delicious ways to use them so next year, if I were you, I would set aside a patch about 3m by 1m and let them grow all winter unassisted and pick them mid to late spring. If you can't use them all, then just blanch them and put them into little freezer bags so you can throw them into soups and stews the next winter. Let some dry on the plants and save them for next year's seeds and you can use those dry ones in cooking too.

5 comments:

Tina said...

Good luck to you (and your broad beans) for the coming expedition. Although I would be glad to be off exploring... I have a need to be home and see my garden do better this growing season... and boy do I have some work to do... both inside and out. Spring cleaning... hmmm... not my favourite thing until it has been done!
I will be so glad when the daylight savings hours arrive and I am able to spend more time in the garden... it is sorely needed, for me AND the garden. I am way behind in the plotting of veggies... But I will try to get a few seedlings in for you on your return. I just hope the spring is not as hot and dry as last year and that the summer is kinder to us this year too. Good luck to all our gardens and garden dwellers...
Happy travels... and take care :)

chaiselongue said...

I'll be interested to hear how the Eqyptian beans do, Kate, as I love ful mesdames. There's also a large variety which we buy dried to make felafel with - I don't know if they're a special variety or just happen to be bigger. You're right, broad beans certainly don't need to be boiled to a mush - when they're very small we eat them raw with a bit of salt. I've often seen recipes which say you should skin the actual beans (not the pods), but if they're young enough and straight from the garden that's not necessary. See you soon!

Ting said...

Thanks for the tips, Kate.
There are a few broad beans standing all over the places in my garden.
My landlord thinks there are too many of them. I already cut some out. There are some growing along the fence, and the neighbor was spraying poison on the other side of the fence the other day. Well...lucky I planted a lot.

Have a good trip.
We will be all excited to hear from you!

Melinda said...

Will they withstand winter frosts, Kate? This seems to be a crop that many Australian and New Zealanders plant, but virtually unheard of here in the US. I'd like to try them! But we do have frosts and an occasional snow...

Looking forward to seeing you!

Andrew said...

Depends on the frost. Where I am it gets to the -1, -4 range and they survived