This is the 5th year that I have grown Broad Beans (Fava), and I have reaped a bumper harvest for very little effort.
This year I sowed about 2/3rds of a 2.4 x 1.2 mtr garden bed, but planted them a lot closer together being about 10 cm apart. The seeds were saved from the previous year, and are the Aquadulce cultivar which are an heirloom variety. To save the seeds, I hang four stalks with the biggest pods up in the carport until the pods are totally dried out and store the dried beans in a sealed salsa jar in my seed box. This method has worked two years in a row now, so I have another four stalks hanging in the carport from today’s harvest.
Anyway, they grew very thick and tall, and I found that I didn’t need to pinch off the tops, or to tie them up. They just grew however they wanted, and even blew over when we had a strong wind a few weeks back, but they still grew fine. To harvest, you just cut them off at ground level leaving the roots in situ, as the roots are littered with nitrogen nodules, and they add this element to the soil as it rots.
Kim, Pam (Kim’s mum), and I sat down and shelled the beans over the period of about an hour. We started off slow….
Then ended up with two big bowls full of beans. The chooks will get the stalks tomorrow, as it got dark as we finished and they were already in bed.
I weighed them as I bagged them up after blanching them for the freezer. You can read about the blanching process at this post titled, “How to Blanch Fresh Produce For Freezing“.
So after not doing too much too them except a little bit of weeding when they were small, we ended up with 2.1 kg (4.6 lbs) of beans ready to freeze. The seeds cost me nothing, and neither did the water! We will use the beans for roast dinners, and for my minestrone soup. A great crop and very tasty.
Broad Beans soon loose their flavour and go brown and bitter due to an enzyme, so this is one of the reasons why you need to blanch them or cook them as soon as you can.
No wonder you never see fresh broad beans at the supermarket, only frozen ones. In this house, they are one of the best spring delicacies!