Growing Guide – Broad Beans

Vicia Faba, or broad beans as it's more commonly known, is a flowering plant that is part of the pea and bean family Fabaceae. These long green pods with a white interior are grown around the globe and make their way into many delicious recipes. There are many varieties of broad beans, so you can taste a few and find the one you like the most.

It's not all about taste with broad beans, though, as they're packed full of health benefits too. Include broad beans in your diet and enjoy the following:
  1. Plenty of nutrients
  2. A boosted immune system
  3. Bone health benefits
  4. Improved blood pressure levels
  5. Weight loss support
If you'd like to include broad beans in your diet going forward, you'll be pleased to know they're super easy to grow. Find out just how easy growing broad beans is below.

When to plant broad beans  

There are two times of the year when broad beans are sown depending on their variety. Most varieties will be sown in early spring and ready to be picked in late spring or early summer. Early crop broad beans can even be sown as early as January in a polytunnel. Hardy broad bean varieties, on the other hand, are sown in autumn and picked early in spring the following year.

How to grow broad beans

Making broad beans the latest crop in your garden is as straightforward as can be. They're grown in a few simple steps and take up very little room. Here's what you need to do.

Sowing broad beans

The first stage of growing broad beans is to sow them. Sowing will usually be done between January and April, but October and November will work for autumn-sown broad beans.

Sowing can be done both indoors and out. Those living in colder climates or areas at risk of flooding should consider sowing indoors. If you don't, you run the risk of your seeds failing to germinate. If your seeds do successfully germinate, there's still a threat as wet conditions can cause the roots to rot before they grow into seedlings.

If you live in these climates but still want to sow your seeds outside, we recommend doing it in a polytunnel to protect your crop.

How to sow broad beans indoors
  1. Fill small pots with multipurpose compost
  2. Place one seed 5cm deep into the pot
  3. Place in a cool, dry spot and leave to germinate
  4. Plant outside once the roots have filled the pot
How to sow broad beans outdoors
  1. Place compost and manure into your planting area and rake it to a fine texture
  2. Mark out your planting locations. Your broad beans should have a spacing of 20cm
  3. Sow the seeds 5cm deep into the soil
  4. Cover with soil and water well
Planting out broad beans

If you sowed your broad beans outdoors then you'll just need to continue caring for them. Those with broad beans sown indoors, however, will need to transfer them outside between March and April. To do that, you will need to:
  1. Dig a hole large enough to fit your broad bean plant and its roots in. You will plant them in either single rows that are spaced around 20cm apart or double rows roughly 60cm apart.
  2. Plant your broad bean plants individually using a trowel. We recommend using a string to guarantee they're planted in a straight line.  
  3. Fill the hole with a good layer of compost and water well.
Growing and supporting broad beans

Broad beans need regular support to ensure a successful harvest. Those that have sown directly into the ground should cover the area with a net. This will keep birds and squirrels away. The net can be removed after a few weeks when the seedlings mature.

Caring for your broad bean plants starts when they begin to flower. Making sure you water them regularly is vital. Broad beans may face several external threats throughout their growing phase. That's why you must hoe between the rows to keep the site clear of weeds. You should also pinch out the tips once the flowers appear. This can prevent blackfly attacks.

How to grow broad beans in the UKTaller varieties of broad beans may need staking to help support their weight from the start and stop them from flopping. If this happens, there's a chance they'll fail to grow properly.

Do this by adding stakes to each end of your broad bean rows and wrapping string around them. This should be done at 30cm intervals from the ground to ensure they don't flop at any point. Tie them to a cane with string while they're still young so they can grow with the supports.

Common problems when growing broad beans

As previously mentioned, the broad bean is susceptible to damage from external threats. From pests to plant diseases, here are what you need to look out for and the combative measures you can take.


These sap-sucking insects are a threat to most crops and broad beans don't escape them either. They decrease growth rates after sucking the juices from the plants, which leads to the eventual death of the crop.

Check your plants frequently to prevent this from happening. Smaller aphid outbreaks can be sprayed off with a garden hose, but a persistent issue may require pesticide.

Root rot

Root rot leads to your crop dying after a few days. Common causes include uncultivated soil and insufficient spacing between your broad bean plants. Prevent this by properly cultivating your soil before planting and ensuring you measure the gaps between plants accurately.
One root rot can lead to those around it rotting too. Pull out your affected plant and replace it with mature compost to prevent an outbreak from occurring.

Bean mosaic virus

This virus interferes with the genetic signalling in the plant, stunting growth. Look out for new leaves on the plant being small and stiff, as this is a key indicator of the bean mosaic virus.

If an outbreak occurs, pull up and compost any affected plants. Dispose of unused seeds that may still be infected.

Harvesting broad beans

After a successful growth period and survival of the garden pests, it's time to harvest!

When are broad beans ready to pick?

You'll know when to pick your broad beans because they'll be roughly 6cm in length. This size ensures they aren't too tough or bitter when you eat them.

How to harvest broad beans

Once you're happy with the size of your broad beans, you can harvest them. Do this by simply plucking your beans off the plant.

Top tip: Leave your broad bean plants in the soil for a while after they've been picked. The roots have nitrogen-fixing bacteria that transfer to the soil. This boosts nitrogen levels, which will enhance next year's crop growth. Some examples of plants that thrive in nitrogen-rich soil include lettuce and spinach.

What to do with broad beans after harvest

After harvesting your broad beans, wash them with fresh water in your sink and store them in your fridge until you wish to use them. You can also freeze your broad beans if you want them to last a little bit longer.

You should avoid podding your broad beans until you are ready to eat them as this will make them lose freshness quicker.

Grow your broad beans with Premier Polytunnels

The ever-changing UK temperatures and weather conditions put growing crops at risk. With the aid of a polytunnel, however, you can provide warmth and shelter for your broad bean plant throughout its growing time.

Start your polytunnel journey today by browsing the wide range we have for sale. There are plenty of sizes available, so you can find the right one for your plot.

Get in touch with our team to find out more about our polytunnels and the many benefits of growing broad beans in one. You can call us or email with any queries you have about our products.

Check out our blog for more tips and tricks as you turn your outdoor space into a gardener's paradise.
0 Comment(s)
Leave a comment