How to grow beautiful broad beans

Broad beans are an excellent crop for the cooler seasons when not much else will grow.

Photos: Rachael McKenna

If picked regularly, they will continue to produce pods over several weeks. There are some exciting varieties, including the crimson-flowering ‘Hughey’, selected by Denis Hughes of Blue Mountain Nurseries; the ‘Red Seeded’ broad bean available from Koanga Gardens (it stays red when cooked); the super-hardy giant-sized heirloom ‘Superaguadulce’; the compact and popular ‘Coles Prolific’; ‘Exhibition Long Pod’, which is a favourite of commercial growers; and ‘Lucifer’, a pink-seeded variety.


Best grown from seed

Plant in autumn, winter or early spring

Space: 20cm apart

Crops after 90-120 days, depending on variety and when planted

Crop rotation: Follow root crops

Plant family: Fabaceae


Broad beans will provide you with a tasty crop from mid to late winter, or late spring/early summer, depending on where you live. For a winter crop, the seeds are sown from March or April. For an early summer crop, plant in late winter or early spring. The seeds are hardy, so plant them directly into the soil. They will survive in soil temperatures down to about 4°C.

Sow in full sun in free-draining soil enriched with compost. Although broad beans are legumes and require only a modest amount of nitrogen, they respond well to the addition of organic matter.


Sow seeds 20cm apart in staggered positions and double rows set 60cm apart. Provide shelter from strong winds and insert stakes at planting time. Black aphids can be a problem in the warmer months when plants are water-stressed. Blast off the little critters with the hose, and ensure your beans get enough water.

Nadia This article first appeared in Nadia: A Seasonal Journal Magazine.
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