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Supporting Broad Beans

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Latest post from MARKSVEGPLOT – a blog about food and gardening in England”

My first row of (12) Broad Bean plants has grown to about 30cm / 1ft tall now, and they looked in need of some support. One of the disadvantages of having my veg plot just outside my back door is that I can see my plants being buffeted by the wind! We have had quite a lot of strong wind recently, and I don’t want to risk losing any of my precious beans. I have therefore given each one the support of a 1.5m / 5-foot bamboo cane.

“Why bother supporting Broad Beans?” you may ask. Well, the reason is that if you don’t, the bean plants will soon flop over into an untidy sprawling mess that takes up a lot more ground-space than if they are held upright. More importantly, bees find it difficult to access the flowers on a sprawl, so they won’t get pollinated and your crop will be smaller.

Over the years I have tried various different ways of support Broad Bean plants, using twiggy sticks, criss-crossed string, wire, etc, but the most effective way is this. I push a bamboo cane into the soil and then tie the plant to it loosely with soft string. As the plant grows I tie it to the cane in more places – usually about four in total.

Different varieties of Broad Bean grow to different heights and therefore need different lengths of cane. These beans are “Witkiem Manita”, which supposedly get to about a metre tall, so allowing for the fact that each cane is pushed into the soil about 30cm, the 1.5m canes should be plenty tall enough.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m growing a row of Radishes alongside the Broad Beans, and you can see them clearly here:

My second batch of Broad Beans is just germinating now.

To be honest, I’m not sure what variety these ones are. I got them at the Potato Day I attended in January, and I recorded them just as “the brown ones”!  It doesn’t really matter to me what variety they are, just as long as I manage to get a decent time interval between the two rows in order to spread out the harvest.

To read more articles like this, on Gardening and Gastronomy, please visit * *


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