We have had our second meal with broad beans as a side serving. These have to be one of the most delicious vegetables to hit our plates yet.
The first time I tasted broad beans was at the local bistro last winter and knew that I had to grow my own. I was delighted to find them at the end of summer at our garden shop.
Broad beans can only be grown in winter in our Mediterranean climate. They take three to four months to start yielding and thereafter should be picked regularly.
Something that I learnt in my son's botany studies this year is that all plants primary goal is to make seed so that it can continue its type. Therefore if we pick the beans, the plant will make more flowers to make more seed (which we will again pick.)
The plants can grow to 1.5 m tall and can be staked individually or as a bunch like I did. I used 6 stakes and then tied a thick plastic rope around them to give some stability. The winds here can snap the stalk easily.
The flowers are gorgeous aren't they? My gardening book says the pollen (and the beans) can be fatal to people of Southern European Descent due to an inherited disorder called Favism!! Goodness! So if that's you, don't sniff them :-)
The pods can be eaten when very young, but the beans are best fully grown to the size of a R2 coin. Slit them open on one side, push the beans out into a pot with your thumb and steam lightly. Eat just like that. They taste like a soft-sweet-pea-cross-green bean, really intriguing.
As they are part of the legume family they are really good to plant after the heavy feeding crops of summer so that they can fix nitrogen in the soil.