Plant Broad Beans for an Early Crop

Broad beans make a worthwhile crop for allotments providing a useful and tasty early summer harvest.  If sown in Spring, Broad Beans can give one of the earliest harvests, and can be straight forward and easy to grow.

A variety of types now available means that you can go for rows of tall, stalked plants as traditionally seen on allotments or a dwarf variety which would be suited to container growing or smaller gardens.  Selections with coloured flowers such as ‘crimson flowered’ look fantastic so as well as yielding delicious beans they add glorious colour to the garden too.

How to Grow

Broad beans like deeply dug, well drained soil.  They do not require feeding but it is a good idea to fork in some light compost.  As they are hardy plants, they can be planted from March onwards.

Sow the seeds about 2in deep directly into the soil, or sow into pots in a glass house for transplanting.  Spacing is important when sowing directly outside and should be between 6 – 9 in apart in double rows 2ft apart.  Sturdy support canes will be needed when the plants become sturdy.

Harvesting

Once plants are in full flower cut off the top 4 in of growth as this will help the pods develop and remove the part of the plant that can be most attractive to black fly.

Early spring sowings will start to crop in midsummer and continue for about 3 weeks, depending on the variety.

Pods can be picked when tiny, 2-3in long, and cooked whole like mangetout.  Usually though they are picked and podded when you can see the full bean swelling inside. 

Extra benefits

Broad beans create their own fertilizer by fixing nitrogen from the air so they do not need a rich soil.  Although potentially they could boost soil fertility for the next crop, most nitrogen ends up in the harvested beans with little left over.

Happy sowing …..

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How to grow potatoes

Growing your own potatoes is usually one of the first crops many people like to try.  At Mitzvahs and Marrows we have grown potatoes every year and it is always a pleasure to see how many we can dig up at the end of the season.  If you want to grow your own potatoes here are some easy instructions to follow:

  • First take your seed potatoes (seed potatoes are so-called because they are specially grown little potatoes which you plant to get your crop), and chit them. Chitting simply refers to taking your seed potatoes and placing them in a light and cool area to sprout or chit for a couple of weeks before planting them. Chitting is said to improve yield which means more potatoes.  Of course if you have bought some of our ready chitted seed potatoes then you can miss this bit out and save time!
  • Option A) To plant out your seed potatoes directly in the ground, dig a small trench about 15cm deep in a v-shape. 
  • Now plant each seed potato about 30cm apart along the trench in a row
  • Sprinkle around a little potato fertiliser (optional), and then earth up the trench from the sides to cover the potatoes. Lightly water in.
  • Option B) Now if you want you can grow potatoes in a bag rather than directly in the ground.  Just take your study potato bag (or even a supermarket jute bag!) fill it quarter full with compost.
  • Now place three seed potatoes equidistant into the compost.   Cover with more compost until the bag is half full. Lightly water in.
  • For both options as the potatoes grow pile in more compost/pile up more earth.  It won’t harm the shoots at all and will mean more potatoes and no ‘greening’ of the tubers.
  • Make sure you keeping watering your crop in hot weather too.
  • Now when are your potatoes ready to come out the ground? When the shoots are beginning to die off, then you can start harvesting!  In the case of those grown directly in the ground this means getting the spade out.  For the bag grown varieties just tip the bag out (yes, this is messy but that is half the fun!)
  • Remember there are three main types of seed potato: first earlies, second earlies, and main crop.  First earlies crop after about 8 weeks, second earlies after 10 weeks or so, and main crop after about 12 weeks.  This of course depends on weather and soil conditions … but it is always worth the wait!
  • If you have any questions please contact us by posting a comment at the end of this article and we shall do our best to answer you promptly 

Grow Your Own Seed Kit Instructions

So you have bought one of our ‘grow your own seed kits’ and now you are wondering what to do with it.  Here are some easy to follow instructions for growing success.

  1. Your biodegradable grow pot contains a block of compost and some seeds.  Take the seeds out of the pot, remember some seeds are very small indeed so do this carefully.
  2. Place the compost block in the bottom of the pot.
  3. Place the pot on a saucer or similar and then very slowly pour 1/3 of a cup of warm water onto the compost block and watch it grow.
  4. Leave the compost to expand for 5 minutes and it will slowly puff up and fill the pot.
  5. Fluff up the now puffed up compost with a pencil until crumbly.
  6. Push the seeds into the compost until they disappear.  Again, remember some of the seeds are quite small so do this gently and carefully.
  7. Put your now planted up grow kit somewhere warm to germinate.
  8. Keep the grow pot moist but do not soak the compost.
  9. When the shoots of your new plant are big enough, tease them out and pot them on into separate pots (you will need to add more compost).  Water well.
  10. OR, you can replant the whole pot into a much larger one without teasing out the shoots, and then grow them on further before potting on as described in no.9.  Again, water well.
  11. If you still have any questions about using your grow your own kit then please, post your question or comment at the end of this article and we shall do our best to reply promptly.

Happy growing from Mitzvahs and Marrows!