Hello and welcome to The Compost Bin. I'm Compostwoman and I live with my family in rural Herefordshire. We have nearly four acres of garden and woodland, all managed organically and to Permaculture principles, which we share with Chickens, Cats and assorted wildlife. We also grow a lot of our own food, run courses in all sorts of things and make a lot of compost!

I am a Master Composter and have spent more than a decade as a volunteer Community Compost adviser with Garden Organic and my local Council.
I'm a self employed Environmental Educator so I run workshops and events where I talk about compost, veg growing, chicken keeping, cooking, preserving and sustainable living. I also run crafts workshops and Forest School/outdoor play sessions in our wood.

We try to live a more self sufficient lifestyle here, as best we can, while still having a comfortable life and lots of fun.

To learn more about us click on the About Compostwoman tab and remember to click on the photos to make them full size!

Thursday 3 March 2011

Growing Broad Beans (Fava Beans) or French or Runner Beans

Broad beans are very frost hardy and will germinate in a soil temperature as low as 2°C (35°F). You could have sown them in the autumn, but I don’t as the mice always eat them if I do! I sow mine in pots/tubes in Feb or early March and then plant out good sized plants in March or early April. You can also sow the seed direct around mid March, if the soil is warm enough.

A good indication that it is ok to sow hardy seeds is if the grass has started to grow, the soil temperature will be above 5-6 degrees centigrade and you can sow/plant hardier seeds direct in the ground, or plant out tubers such as potatoes.

BUT IF you have a heavy clay soil wait! Seeds sown in wet or cold soil tend to rot and die. Waiting for a few more weeks won’t hurt.

A black or clear plastic covering over soil will warm it up, so you can sow some seeds a little earlier than usual. Spread plastic sheeting over the areas where you plan to sow the seeds. Weigh down the sides so it can't blow away in winter winds. After 3 - 4 weeks, the soil should be warm enough for seed sowing.

I use big sheets of Geotextile ( weed sheet) which we have a huge roll of, so we have 4 sheets which cover the 4 plots in the veg garden all winter. We turn them back to let the weed seeds geminate, then cover the weeds up to kill them off!

I soak my beans for a few hours to soften the cases and make it easier for the seed to germinate.

I put the tubes in old, broken seed modules (to help support them) standing in a gravel tray (like a seed tray but with no holes) and fill them to within an inch of the top with peat free growing medium. I then put a bean in each tube

and fill the tube to the top with growing medium

I label the trays ( so I know which is which!)

water them well (be gentle, you don't want to over water!)

and cover them with a clear lid, mainly to keep off the mice, but also it adds a bit of warmth in the polytunnel....if you have a cool windowsil that would be fine.

These will have grown leaves within a couple of weeks and will be rerady to plant out by the end of March (if the weather is OK)

For those of you who are interested, I planted these on a waxing moon in the second quarter.

I use the same technique (seeds in pots /tubes) for Runner and French beans a bit later on in the year!

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