Gardening Magazine

The Last of the Broad Beans

By Mwillis
I've had a really good crop of Broad Beans this year, which is unusual  - they nearly always suffer from serious Blackfly infestation and Rust disease, and often produce a disappointing yield.
The last of the Broad Beans
This year I have grown 20 Broad Bean plants, mostly of the variety "Witkiem Manita", with a couple of "De Monica". This is a number that fits comfortably into one of my raised beds, which measure 1 meter by 2.4 metres.
The last of the Broad Beans
Last week I picked over 3kgs of pods:
The last of the Broad Beans
After this I thought there would only be a few pods left, because the plants were beginning to look very tired and some of them had started to shed their leaves.
The last of the Broad Beans
On Sunday I decided to pick all the remaining beans, and remove the plants.
The last of the Broad Beans
I was surprised how many pods I found - another 2.9kgs!
The last of the Broad Beans
Most of the pods were in very good condition, clean and well-filled.
The last of the Broad Beans
However, there were also some small wrinkly, contorted ones - those produced by the few plants that were badly affected by the weedkiller-contaminated compost problem.
The last of the Broad Beans
It was very evident which were the affected plants - their leaves were mottled, crinkly and pitted, like this:
The last of the Broad Beans
I cut the plants down to a few inches above soil level, removing the pods as I went.
The last of the Broad Beans
If I hadn't wanted the space immediately for another crop I would have left the bean plant stumps in place to gradually decay, because their roots have nitrogen-fixing nodules on them which can be beneficial for later crops.
The last of the Broad Beans
However, I have Brussels Sprouts and PSB waiting for a turn in that bed, so the bean plants had to come out! I know from experience that if you leave them in place they often re-sprout with another (weaker) set of stems and just get in the way.

The last of the Broad Beans

Young Brussels Sprout plants awaiting planting

I've dug a few handfuls of pelleted chicken manure into the soil of the now-vacant raised bed, and the brassicas will go into it soon. In a small garden like mine you can afford to leave any space vacant for long!

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