Harvesting The Broad Beans

We had a great time this morning harvesting our crop of broad beans. 

The beans grew to over 6′ tall and heavily laden with pods.  I usually know when the beans are ready to pick, when they all begin to fall over and the pods are swollen.  Here is a before shot of the bed.  All over the place.

I gave Ben my garden clippers and he managed to fell the entire bean forest (his words), and Kim and I picked the beans off the stalks and shelled them.

He did a great job, and this is what was left when he was finished.

Then I cleaned it up and chopped each of the stalks down to the ground.  I leave the root in because the broad bean roots have nitrogen nodules that break down into the soil and act as a fertiliser for the next crop.  It is known as fixing nitrogen.

This is a shot of the bed all tidied up and ready for a top dress of sheep manure and compost.

So how much did we harvest?  A whopping 3.6 kg (8 lbs) of Broad Beans (Fava).  Last years harvest we only managed 1.8 kg (4 lbs) from the same area.  The rain has been above average this season.

We also saved all of the finger sized pods and are having those with our roast dinner tonight. This is before  Kim had topped and tailed them ready for dinner.

We also saved about 400 gm (14 oz) of fresh beans to be sauted in a little butter and garlic with dinner.

I blanched the remainder for freezing and we have enough for soups and stews for winter.  It is such a great feeling to be able to harvest a crop like this with so little effort.  I think I fertilised twice over the winter with Powerfeed via the water butts, and that was it.  I did not weed at all and performed no pest control.  I saved 5 long stalks and kept the first 4 largest pods attached and hung them upside down in the garage.  When the seeds are dry I will store them in a sealed glass jar for next season.  

Broad beans are just the most easiest and tastiest crop to grow over our temperate winter. 


  1. says

    @ Deb,

    Had fun in Sydney, and it was indeed humid.

    @ Green Mama,

    I am going to plant tomatoes and tomatillos in that bed.

    @ Bruise Mouse

    I cooked some in a little olive oil and garlic. They were delicious.

    @ Amy,

    The variety I used was Aquadulce. I find it well suited to our conditions.

    @ Mark,

    I find that the higher beds are great to mulch in because the extra high stops the wind from blowing the mulch away.

    @ Tracey,

    Thanks for that info, I didn’t know about the rest of the plant fixing N as well. I do indeed compost the stalks, which is probably why everything goes crazy when I add the compost to the beds.


  2. Tracey says

    Hi Gavin,
    Just FYI, when legumes fix nitrogen, the plant incorporates the N into its tissues as it grows, the N doesn’t just sit in the nodules on the roots (or spread into the surrounding soil while the plant is growing, as many people assume). So if you want to get the most soil benefit from N-fixing plants, you need to dig the green parts of the plant into the soil and let it break down there. Or compost them (as I’m sure you do) and then dig the compost back into the garden bed.

  3. says

    Seems so odd to me here in the UK to hear you writing about harvesting broan beans! We’re all clearing things away for the Winter. Tonight I’m cooking parsnips and celeriac with my Game casserole… I love the way you have made those raised beds, by the way. I should have made mine double-depth like yours!

  4. says

    Do you happen to know what variety this is? I am just now sowing some small seeded fava beans. I also attempted to grow some last year, but we had a very early cold snap that wiped them out.

  5. says

    Must be the weekend for harvesting broadbeans- I just picked a big bowlful of broadbeans too- I wish I had have thought to weigh them! I took the time to photograph them but that’s it. What are you planting in their place?

  6. says

    Yes it’s been a great year for Broad beans, I harvest mine as I go because Hubby can’t wait for them but this year there are so many I will also be able to freeze some.

    Can’t wait to get rid of them because I have so many seedlings waiting for the space.

    Have fun in Sydney tomorow, it’s very humid at the moment.

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