Broad Bean Seed Experiment

Growing Broad Beans are easy.  Not much to them really, but this year I am performing a bit of an experiment to see which broad bean seed is better; commercially purchased or saved seed.

Will the saved seed be more suited to our climate seeing that it is a generation older in my care?  Will the germination rates differ between the two batches?  Will the saved seed be stronger in the long run?

Saved Seed vs Commercial Seed

My Saved Seed (L) vs Commercial Seed (R)

Last year, I purchased a variety called Early Long Pod from Mr Fothergills seeds.  I had a decent crop, without any disease issues, especially the dreaded broad bean rust that I experienced in 2012.  So thinking that they might be a little bit more resistant to diseases than my normal Aquadolce, I kept the seed from three plants in November 2013.

Not sure why, but my seed is pale green and the store-bought seed is brown?  Is that an indication of age?  I know that Broad Bean seeds are viable for up to five years, so they could be old.

I saved enough seed to plant out half of one of my 2.8 sqm beds.  In the other half of the bed, I planted a fresh packet of seed (again Mr Fothergills).  I dug in a bucket of sheep manure, some dolomite lime, and spread three buckets of compost which I raked over lightly to ensure it was all level.  Then I watered the bed well.

Bed prepared for broad beans

Bed prepared for broad beans

The interesting thing about this experiment is that even though they are close by each other, they are getting the same nutrients, the same amount of water, and sunlight.

I planted the seeds down 5cm (2 inches), and sowed six to a row about a hand length apart across the bed.  Then I mulched with pea straw.  The saved broad bean seed is planted at the front of the bed to about half way, and the commercial to the back of the bed.

Bed for Broad Bean seed mulched with pea straw

Bed for Broad Beans mulched with pea straw

It will be interesting to count germination rates over tomorrow, as most of the beans have poked through the surface.  I planted them two weeks ago, so I can now see the first leaves poking through.  As it is dark when I get home from work, I was unable to take a picture for this post.

I will post a quick update tomorrow regarding the outcome, as it is my downshift day.

I love a good gardening experiment!

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  1. says

    I’ve just planted some saved seeds in the new garden bed. This will be the third (or fourth) generation of saved seeds and they always do well.

  2. says

    Perhaps I misunderstood where you are going to plant the two seed types, but if you are going to plant one at the front of the bed and one at the back, then I suspect that the one at the back will have the advantage of stored radiated heat from the brick wall (during the night and cloudy periods in the day), and the one at the front may have some advantage due to more sunlight (depending on the orientation of your house and the eave overhang.

    Or have I got it wrong. In any case I’ll be interested to see the results in due course.


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